College isn’t suited for everyone, so it’s a good thing that bachelor’s degrees aren’t a prerequisite for success.
Vocational schools — institutions that teach and provide certification for trades — are well adapted for potential laborers and workers who enjoy working with their hands in the field.
In the 1970s, post-Vietnam War America saw a decline in the popularity of vocational jobs as the prestige of academic degrees rose. Millennials are the most educated generation in history, but many still struggle to find employment out of college — unemployment for young people is at about 14%.
The demand for blue collar jobs, meanwhile, is high. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 3.9 million job opportunities that require vocational training, many of which, surprisingly, pay extremely well:
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Average annual salary: $73,560
Average Hourly Wage: $35.37
10% Annual Top Pay: $105,750
Top Paying State: Massachusetts
Training: Some states require certification or work as an apprentice beforehand.
Other information: Economists predict demand to exceedingly increase by 2020.
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2.) Underwater Welders
Average Annual Salary: $54,750
Average Hourly Wage: $26.32
10% Annual Top Pay: $94,440
Top Paying State: New York
Training: Requires welding and diving certification.
Other information: Some successful underwater welders reportedly make over $300,000.
3.) Power Distributors and Dispatchers
Average Annual Salary: $78,170
Average Hourly Wage: $37.58
10% Annual Top Pay: $107,880
Top Paying State: Nevada
Training: Certification from vocational school and a license through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) if operating with nuclear reactors.
Other information: There are many career advancement opportunities within this field.
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Average Annual Salary: $75,000 – $80,000
Average Hourly Wage: $60-120 per pool
Top Paying State: California
Training: Requires knowledge of pool chemicals and owning a business.
Other information: Technicians who work on their own pool route within the Sunbelt areas typically make more as opposed to those working in colder climates.
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Average Annual Salary: $51,520
Average Hourly Wage: $24.77
10% Annual Top Pay: $74,540
Top Paying State: Michigan
Training: Most require welding certification and starting out as an apprentice.
Other information: Millwrights working in utilities receive the highest salary, averaging $72,020
6.) Chemical Plant and System Operators
Average Annual Salary: $61,880
Average Hourly Wage: $27.01
10% Annual Top Pay: $78,380
Top Paying State: Texas
Training: Just a GED or high school diploma is required.
Other information: Within the plastics product manufacturing industry, the average operator makes $66,830.
Average Annual Salary: $60,170
Average Hourly Wage: $28.93
10% Annual Top Pay: $87,320
Top Paying State: California
Training: Requires starting out with an apprenticeship.
Other information: The average boilermaker within the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry makes $71,490.
Average Annual Salary: $54,520
Average Hourly Wage: $26.21
10% Annual Top Pay: $85,590
Top Paying State: Alaska
Training: Becoming licensed is required, and apprenticeships are recommended.
Other information: Electricians within the amusement and recreational industry make an average of $85,190 annually.
Average Annual Salary: $57,000
Average Hourly Wage: $27.41
10% Annual Top Pay: $77,600
Top Paying State: Washington
Training: Requires Federal Railroad Administration certification.
Other information: Within Washington, the average locomotive engineer makes $71,770.
Average Annual Salary: $94,590
Average Hourly Wage: $45.47
10% Annual Top Pay: $150,250
Top Paying State: New Jersey
Training: Requires knowledge of construction and certification through the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).
Other information: This is a job that requires people to work their way up the ranks, unless they have a college degree.
Because many of these unique career opportunities are not on young workers’ radars, those that have chosen to learn these trades are highly sought after. Perhaps for some, it’s time to start researching vocational professions and exchange those pens for tools.