Train for a Job in a High-Growth Industry

You'll Almost Certainly Find a Job in One of These Industries

If you're thinking about going back to school, you may wonder if the investment is worth it. After all, you'll be spending a lot of time and money. Will your hard work really pay off?  The answer is yes -- if you learn skills in the right field.

These 13 high-growth job industries are on the lookout for skilled employees. Pick one that really interests you, look into the type of jobs you'd like to prepare for, and then choose the right school at which to learn the necessary skills.

For help finding the right degree and school:

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This is the big one! Computer systems design is one of the fastest growing industries. Technical and professional certification is important for all IT jobs. The industry changes quickly, and workers need to stay current on the latest technology. Community colleges are a great resource for this training.

People interested in IT should earn an associate's degree and have the following skills:

  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Troubleshooting
  • Writing

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Most health care jobs require training that leads to a vocational license, certificate, or degree. The industry is so expansive, though, that a brief paragraph can't do it justice. Opportunities range from medical and nursing careers to administrative jobs, technical jobs, and more. created a health care industry competency model that may be helpful in determining necessary education.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 264,000 job openings in manufacturing in March 2014. Some of the specific jobs they mention include machinists, maintenance technicians, and welders. Non-production opportunities include biomedical engineers, dispatchers, and truck drivers. 

But what if you're interested in 21st-century technology? Innovation is the key here. Manufacturers need skilled workers with the ability to create new products and services that allow companies to compete globally. Here's the breakdown of the skills needed:

  • Technical, including production, process design and development, maintenance, installation, and repair
  • Teamwork
  • Strong computer skills
  • Ability to read and translate diagrams and flow charts
  • Strong supervisory and managerial skills

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The aerospace industry includes companies that produce aircraft, guided missiles, space vehicles, aircraft engines, propulsion units, and related parts. Aircraft overhaul, rebuilding, and parts are also included. The aerospace workforce is aging, and lots of jobs in this sector are expected to open up.

Students interested in aerospace need to be able to keep up with the rapid technological advancements in this industry. Many companies provide on-site, job-related training to upgrade the skills of technicians, production workers, and engineers. Some provide computer and blueprint reading classes, and some offer tuition reimbursement for colleges expenses.

Many jobs in this area require an apprenticeship, especially for machinists and electricians. Most employers prefer to hire workers with a minimum of a two-year degree. Creativity is a definite plus.

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor, changes in economic conditions generally have minor effects on the automotive service and repair business. The department also reports that the industry is striving to increase its diversity of workers as far as race, gender, and language.

The automotive industry has become increasingly sophisticated. Service technician and mechanic jobs usually require a formal training program. Courses in automotive repair, electronics, physics, chemistry, English, computers, and mathematics provide a good educational background for a career as a service technician.

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The biotechnology industry is growing fast. It's a broad-ranging field that includes genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, virology, and biochemical engineering. The most important job skills are in computer and life sciences. From the Department of Labor site:

"For science technician jobs in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry, most companies prefer to hire graduates of technical institutes or junior colleges or those who have completed college courses in chemistry, biology, mathematics or engineering. Some companies, however, require science technicians to hold a bachelor's degree in a biological or chemical science."

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The construction industry expects an increased need for electricians, carpenters, and construction managers. Many construction jobs involve apprenticeships. The following skills will give you the best chance of landing the job you want:

  • Math
  • Mechanical drawing
  • Woodworking
  • Reading
  • Several years of informal on-the-job training

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The energy industry includes natural gas, petroleum, electricity, oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and utilities. There are a variety of education requirements in this industry. Jobs as engineering technicians require a minimum of a two-year degree in engineering technology. Geologists, geophysicists, and petroleum engineers must have a bachelor's degree. Many companies prefer masters degrees, and some may require a Ph.D. for workers involved in petroleum research.

All levels require skills in computers, math, and science.

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There are three primary sectors in the growing financial services industry: banking, securities and commodities, and insurance. Managerial, sales, and professional occupations usually require a bachelor's degree. Courses in finance, accounting, economics, and marketing will help you in this industry. Agents selling securities are required to be licensed by the National Association of Securities Dealers, and agents selling insurance must be licensed by the state in which they are employed.

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If you love maps, this might be the industry for you. The Geospatial Information & Technology Association states that because the uses for geospatial technology are so widespread and diverse, the market is growing at a rapid rate.

An emphasis in sciences is important for careers in photogrammetry (the science of making measurements from photographs), remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS). Some universities also offer degree programs and certification in GIS.

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The hospitality industry is popular with first-time and part-time job seekers. The jobs are varied, and education of all kinds is helpful. People skills and English are important in this industry. Managers will do best with a two-year or bachelor's degree. Certification in hospitality management is available.

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Did you know that the retail industry is the largest employer in the U.S.?  While many jobs are available for first-time or part-time job seekers, those who want a management job should have a degree. The DOL states, "Employers increasingly seek graduates from junior and community colleges, technical colleges, and universities."

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The transportation industry is global and includes trucking, air, railroad, passenger transit, scenic and sightseeing, and water. This is another gigantic industry. Each sub-industry has its own requirements, of course.

  • Trucking: Training schools for truck driving are your best bet here. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires these minimum qualifications for interstate trucking--at least 21 years old, have at least 20/40 vision, good hearing, and the ability to read and speak English. You must also have a good driving record and a state commercial driver's license (CDL).
  • Air: Job requirements vary widely here, but helpful are customer service and strong communication and interpersonal skills. Mechanics and pilots require formal training. of course.
  • Railroad: Conductors must complete a formal training program. Engineer positions are almost always filled internally with workers who have railroad experience.
  • Passenger Transit: Federal regulations require drivers to have a commercial driver's license (CDL). Diesel service technicians and mechanics have the best chance of getting a job in this industry with formal training. Diesel repair programs can be found at many community colleges and trade and vocational schools. Communication skills, customer service, and basic understanding of physics and logical thought are also important.
  • Scenic and Sightseeing: This includes aircraft mechanics, who must learn their job in one of about 200 trade schools certified by the FAA. Basic computer knowledge and good interpersonal skills are important. Customer service reps must have strong communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Water: "Entry, training, and educational requirements for most water transportation occupations are established and regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard. All officers and operators of commercially operated vessels must be licensed by the Coast Guard, which offers various kinds of licenses, depending on the position and type of vessel. Sailors and unlicensed engineers working on U.S.-flagged deep-sea and Great Lakes vessels must hold a Coast Guard-issued document. A medical certificate of excellent health attesting to vision, color perception, and general physical condition is required for higher level deckhands and unlicensed engineers. No special training or experience is needed to become a seaman or deckhand on vessels operating in harbors or on rivers or other waterways.