What You Didn't Know about Four Growing Trade Occupations

Wouldn't it be nice if you could find a growing, relatively well-paying job that didn't require you to spend four or more years in college? You can, if you pursue a skilled trade like the four listed below. Yes, you say, but are trade careers really sexy enough to win me the respect of my peers? My mom's admiration? Score me a date? We can't speak to your smooth moves, but we can assure you that trade professions can be exciting. Need proof? Read on.

Sexy Facts about Four Growing Trade Careers

The following represent just four of the many promising trade careers that could make your future.

Auto Repair

Auto maintenance and repair might not seem sexy on the surface (unless you have a thing for greasy jump suits), but this growing field is an excellent option for those who want a relatively secure future without investing years in college. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects demand for these pros will grow by 17 percent between 2010 and 2020. Other interesting facts:

  • Think auto repair is just for men? Tell that to the women like Sarah "Bogi" Lateiner, an Arizona-based mechanic and shop owner who told CBS News that she finds working in this traditionally male-dominated field "empowering."
  • You probably know that auto mechanics can save lives (and money) by ensuring our cars are in safe and working order, but did you know their specialized know-how can save wildlife, too? At least that's what one group of Nashua, N.H. mechanics did when they heard the panicked squawking of baby ducklings in a storm drain last month. Their solution: Flush the drain with water to propel the ducklings to the other side of the street for an easy rescue.

Home Inspection

Home inspection is a booming field, and not just because HGTV's Mike Holmes has become a regular household name (at least among us home-design junkies). According to the BLS, home inspection careers are expected to grow by 18 percent between 2010 and 2020. Their median 2011 earnings: $52,360, which is higher than the national average. Other interesting facts:

  • You don't need to go to medical school to save lives. Home inspectors scope out unsafe wiring, deadly mold and more, ensuring now and future home owners' health and safety. Don't believe us? The Internet is chock-full of stories and photos showing what can happen when homeowners forgo this important process.
  • Hidden mold and sub-par ventilation isn't the only thing home inspectors can find on the job: Because they may need to peer into walls or enter long-forgotten crawl spaces, these professionals can find their share of lost or hidden artifacts, like long-lost letters or artwork.

Electrical Repair

If you want to enter a field with some staying power, consider becoming an electrician. Electricians are a hot commodity. In fact, the BLS projects that demand for these pros will grow by 23 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all professionals. Most states require would-be electricians to pursue formal training and an apprenticeship.

  • According to a 2011 report from Georgetown University's Center for Education and the Workforce, electricians rank among the top five highest paying careers in the nation relative to their requisite training. Of course, formal electrician degrees from online trade school programs could lead to even higher earnings.
  • Electrician may sound like an old-school job title, but when it comes to energy production, this field is on the cutting edge. According to the National Science Foundation, solar, thermal and wind energy are generating new opportunities for these pros.

HVAC Maintenance and Repair

Job market cooling down? A career in heating, ventilation and air conditioning could be your saving grace. According to the BLS, demand for these techs is projected to grow by a whopping 34 percent between 2010 and 2020, and prospects could be even better for those with HVAC degrees or certificates. More interesting facts:

  • HVAC and repair might not sound sexy, but it is one hot industry (pun intended). So hot, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Labor ranks HVAC repair as the ninth fastest growing career in the country for professionals with less than a bachelor's degree.
  • During massive heat waves -- like those that swept across the East Coast last summer -- HVACs aren't just a site for overheated eyes, but superheroes who can save lives and sanity.

Trade schools: Online training pays off

Advancing your education can usually earn you more money and better job prospects, whatever your industry, and thanks to online education, pursuing that training is more convenient than ever. Yes, you say, but aren't all of the above careers too hands-on for web-based learning? Thanks to advances in web-based learning -- like streaming video -- online trade school programs are on the rise. The trick is to find a program -- online or otherwise -- that suits your budget, goals and learning style. Our advice: Research a number of campus-based and online trade school degrees before choosing a program. You won't regret it.

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