8 Highest Paying Vocational Careers

8 Highest Paying Vocational Careers

These are most lucrative jobs for students without a degree – and what it takes to join their ranks.

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Individuals who become radiation therapists are responsible for administering radiation treatments to cancer patients.

Everyone wants to find a successful and financially rewarding career after they graduate. While the school you earn your degree from is certainly important, it isn’t always about name recognition. In fact, attending a vocational school can be more valuable than you might think.

Whether you chose your career field hoping to make the most money possible or you simply picked something you love, there’s a lot of money to be made with a trade school certification. Here are the eight highest paying vocational careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

8. Aircraft Mechanics: $64,380

Job description: Aircraft mechanics are responsible for keeping commercial and airline aircraft working. Whether they specialize in jets, helicopters, or 747’s, mechanics work on the thousands of intricate inner mechanics of aircraft. They need to be able to repair and inspect different parts, and assemble components to keep the plane in one piece.

Education requirements: In order to become an aircraft mechanic, the FAA requires individuals to have more than 18 months of practical experience. There are also three required exams. If you are primarily interested in doing aircraft repairs, you’ll need either an FAA repair certificate or experience working at a repair station.

7. Auto Insurance Appraisers: $56,230

Job description: Ever wondered why your auto insurance rates skyrocket after an accident? Insurance appraisers are the ones who determine the extent of damage and cost of repairs. They work for insurance companies and deal with customers on a daily basis. Usually, they contact customers who have reported accidents and discuss the circumstances, events, and fault with them.

Education requirements: Appraisers need to complete a certificate program in auto damage appraisal. These courses might include repair classes, so appraisers can accurately note the kinds of damage they will come across on the job. Some certificate programs, like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, require students to have hands-on experience before taking classes.

6. Commercial Pilots: $67,500

Job description: Working as a commercial pilot is very different than flying as an airline pilots. Commercial pilots fly planes and helicopters whenever needed. They don’t have a set work schedule, and typically don’t know when or where they will be flying until they are assigned a route. There are a lot of options for commercial pilots — they can fly helicopters and assess traffic conditions, transport patients to hospitals, or even spray pesticides on fields.

Education requirements: Commercial pilots need a pilot’s license before they can enter the profession. You don’t necessarily need to attend a trade school or community college; alternatively, you can earn their credentials through military or civilian flight school or with a private instructor.

5. Fire Fighting Supervisors: $68,240

Job description: Whether their official position is fire chief or fire lieutenant, the fire supervisor must oversee their crew during emergencies and in down times at the fire station. However, the job isn’t without risks. The injury rate for a fire supervisor is significantly higher than other emergency workers, such as EMTs or emergency room nurses.

Education requirements: Fire fighting supervisors are expected to have at least a year of fire fighting experience under their belts. They are required to complete a fire certification program. These programs are available at both independent fire academies and vocational schools all over the country.

4. Nuclear Medicine Technologist: $68,560

Job description: Entering the field of nuclear medicine is, in some ways, similar to becoming a nurse. Technologists give patients radioactive drugs and then use equipment to monitor the patients’ bodies as the drugs react. This work assists all other health workers — the reactions technologists observe and the notes they take help doctors diagnose illnesses or diseases.

Education requirements: Nuclear medicine technologists need a state-approved certification from the American Registry of Radiological Technologists (ARRT). Some states may also require employees to earn additional certifications from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board. There is little to no on-the-job training.

3. Radiation Therapist: $74,980 per year

Job description: Individuals who become radiation therapists are responsible for administering radiation treatments to cancer patients. They give each patient a prescribed dosage of radiation, monitor their reactions, and take detailed notes on what occurs over the course of treatment. Radiation therapists work in what is considered a semi-dangerous environment, since high amounts of radiation can be harmful.

Education requirements: All that’s needed to enter the radiation therapy field is a certification. Most community colleges or vocational schools offer the necessary certifications. In order to earn their certificate, students must pass the ARRT exam.

2. Construction Manager: $83,860 per year

Job description: A construction manager is responsible for overseeing building projects from the ground up — literally. They must coordinate all aspects of a project. The manager drafts contracts, hires workers, manages cash flow, monitors progress, and interacts with clients, among many other duties. Managing construction requires both business know-how and hands-on experience.

Education requirements: Construction managers must have a high school diploma. The most important education, however, is on-the-job experience. Many managers begin their careers by working various construction jobs, from carpenter to excavation. Apprenticing under a construction company is highly desirable.

1. Air Traffic Controller: $108,040 per year

Job description: Air traffic controllers are an integral part of the flying industry. They are responsible for choreographing the movements of thousands of airplanes. The day-to-day life of an air traffic controller is both stressful and exciting. Not only do they have control over which planes take off or land, but they also must monitor the behavior and flight patterns of all aircraft in their area.

Education requirements: To become an air traffic controller, all you need is Federal Aviation Association certification. However, earning a spot in an airport tower requires a lot of hard work. Applicants must complete an FAA-approved training program. They must also be under 30 years old and pass a 12-week course at the FAA Academy, as well as a few months of on-the-job training.

Quick Facts

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the healthcare industry to explode with job opportunities over the next ten years.
  • Many careers that require only vocational school provide on-the-job training for individuals who are interested in moving up within their industry.
  • Sometimes, a high-paying job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree can lead to higher stress and increased chances of injury — such as jobs in construction or emergency medical services.

Stats source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

Vocational and Career Scholarships
Taking Vocational Courses in High School
Vocational and Training Schools
Types of Skilled Trade Certificate Programs
Community College: Is It For Me?

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