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11 Vocational Skills in High Demand Today


As college graduates lament the difficult job market, vocational school graduates have a hard time identifying with their problems. Why? Many vocational skills are in high demand, especially among medical professionals, skilled labor, and financial services. Are you cut out to try on one of these vocational skills? Give it a try, and you just might launch an in-demand career.

  1. Health care and social assistance:

    Workers who are able to interact with the public in health care or social assistance situations will find the most demand for jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics identified this industry as the one expected to gain the most jobs this decade. All told, there should be 5.6 million new jobs for health care and social assistance, making it a high demand industry now and in the future. Jobs that fall under this category include work done in health offices, home health services, hospitals, residential care facilities, and day care services.

  2. Construction:

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to see rapid growth in the construction sector, an industry that’s poised to add 1.8 million jobs by 2020. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies construction as one of the top industries for wage and salary employment growth, at a rate of 2.9%. Construction workers include electricians, elevator installers, building inspectors, and plumbers, to name a few, and median salaries can be as high as $70,000.

  3. Manufacturing:

    Students in manufacturing trade schools are in such high demand, they’re often hired even before they graduate. CNN reports that manufacturers are “begging” for more workers trained in advanced manufacturing skills, specifically with training in computer design, machine shop technology, and machine shop math. New hires with higher-level manufacturing skills can earn starting salaries of about $40,000 per year, and often earn up to $65,000 within two years. For some workers, that means earning more with vocational education than they might have earned with a four-year degree, and enjoying a higher demand to boot.

  4. Trucking:

    Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers are among the top occupations with the largest projected employment growth, with a nearly 21% expansion of the workforce expected by 2020. Most truck drivers simply require a high school diploma and short vocational education or on-the-job experience. But even with this low barrier to entry, the pay isn’t bad, with a median annual wage of $37,770.

  5. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing:

    Financial services are important now more than ever, and financial support staff are in high demand. This sector will grow from 1.9 million to 2.2 million by 2020, a 13.6% growth rate. Financial clerks are in demand in many different industries, including those that provide accounting, tax preparation, and bookkeeping. Many bookkeepers learn their schools through vocational training or on the job, quickly becoming qualified for a median annual wage of $34,030.

  6. Veterinary technology:

    Pets are a part of many families, and taking great care of these family members means that vet techs are in great demand. By 2020, the vet tech labor force will swell with an incredible growth percentage of 52%. Vet techs can get started with a postsecondary program in veterinary technology that will allow them to become registered, licensed, or certified to practice in their state. Vet techs often earn around $29,000, but high earners can reach up to $44,000 per year.

  7. Food service:

    Everyone has to eat, and not every meal can be prepared at home. That’s why food service is and continues to be such an in-demand vocational skill. Food service workers, cooks, and chefs all enjoy a healthy job outlook that remains steady or growing. Pay can vary widely depending on experience and the setting, but one thing is for sure: anyone with food service experience and training can almost certainly find a job.

  8. Computer support:

    Computer software and equipment is becoming increasingly more useful and complex, creating a steady and ever-growing need for computer support specialists, often called technical support specialists. With moderate on the job training or vocational education, computer support specialists can earn a median pay of $46,260 per year.

  9. Dental care:

    Preventive services are among the easiest most popular ways to care for teeth, and dental hygienists are responsible for many of these services, cleaning teeth, examining patients, and offering education. Dental hygienists typically require an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, and are paid well for their relatively short education: a median pay of $68,250 per year.

  10. Hair styling and cosmetology:

    Beauty services are in high demand just about everywhere: people want to feel good about themselves, and barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists can help them do that. This industry has good growth and job security, with minimal training from state-approved cosmetology programs. The pay is not high, with a median annual salary of $22,500, but the opportunities are good, especially for those who are self-employed.

  11. Auto servicing:

    Employment of auto service technicians is poised to experience healthy growth, especially for those who have completed formal vocational training programs. The opportunities can be great, and the industry should add about 124,800 new jobs by 2020.

October 11th, 2012 written by Site Administrator

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