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The skilled trades may not get as much attention as high-profile careers in law or medicine, but there is never any shortage of demand for plumbers, welders, HVAC maintenance specialists, telecom and electronics technicians--the list goes on and on. If you're good with your hands, a career in applied technology, maintenance, or repair provides steady and potentially lucrative work.

While jobs in many fields--retail, travel, and entertainment to name a few--rely on the disposable income that comes with a healthy economy, those in the skilled trades are often insulated from the ups and downs of the economy because the jobs they do are needed whether times are lean or lavish.

Employment Outlook and Potential Salary

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean WageProjected Job Growth Rate
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics639,700$42,6606.3%
Electricians631,080$57,9109%
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers307,060$49,53014.7%
Manicurists and Pedicurists104,020$24,98012%
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters428,260$57,07015.8%
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Get Your Foot in the Door with Vocational Training

In most of the skilled trades, the key to success is experience. But how do you get the experience that leads to your first job? In general, the answer is at technical or vocational schools. Many community colleges also offer certification programs in the skilled trades. In some cases these programs will include apprenticeships that give you real world experience and boost your career.


If time and transportation issues are keeping you from attending vocational education classes, consider an online program. There are numerous online certification and degree programs that can give you the education and credentials you need to start a career in such fields as automotive repair, HVAC, beauty and cosmetology, computer and appliance repair, plumbing, and welding. These programs are often less expensive than on-campus programs, allow you to study from home, and can help you make the jump from a job to a career.

Online Technical & Vocational Career Training

Browse training programs in telecommunications, audiovisual (A/V), electronics, computer, aviation, building, engineering, industrial, diesel, civil engineering, and marine technology.
Find auto mechanic training programs with courses in advanced diagnostics, aircraft mechanics, auto body repair, diesel, NASCAR technology, collision repair, and more.
Launch your aviation technology career with courses and programs in avionics, aviation electronics technology, aircraft mechanics, airframe technology, and aviation management.
Become a licensed cosmetologist with convenient courses in aesthetics, skin and nail care, and salon management.
Search career training programs in computer electronics technology, appliance repair, and electronic repair technology.
Electrician training programs include electronic technology, electronics engineering technology, basic electronics, electrical technician training and electronic repair.
View HVAC certificate and diploma programs in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration maintenance and repair.
Prepare for a high-demand, high-paying career with a certificate or diploma in plumbing technology.
Learn to be a truck or tractor trailer driver.
Welding diploma programs provide the career training you need for this skilled trade.

Pursue your Vocational & Trade major today…