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10 Best Vocational Careers that Pay Well

Buzzle Staff
A vocational career is something that prepares one for a specific job. In vocational education, the emphasis is on developing skills and knowledge required for a specific trade. This story explores 10 best vocational careers that pay well.
"Over the past 10 years or so, vocational school enrollments have gone from the 700-range to the 1300-range. There is an increase of 45% over the last decade."
― Richard Gross, Superintendent, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Vocational Technical High School
Normally, when a person intends to carve out a career in a particular field, he goes through the regular educational procedure of primary school, high school, college, graduate school, etc.
Doing so gives him the opportunity to work in his field, and when the situation arises, he may work in a different domain too, that may or may not be directly related to his specialization.
However, if he is very sure of working only in a particular field, he can undertake vocational courses and achieve his goal. Not all of them pay very well, though there are some exceptions. Some of the best vocational careers in demand are enlisted below.

An Overview

  • Certificate courses and associated degrees can be considered to be vocational courses too.
  • A vocational course is something that helps you specialize only in one particular domain.
  • These courses can be a part of large educational programs, training programs, etc.
  • They are offered in a variety of fields, like computers, medicine, electronics, creativity, etc.
  • Vocational careers help students work in the domains they like.
  • They are offered by vocational schools, community colleges, specialized trade schools, etc.
  • Off late, the demand for vocational courses has been on the rise.
  • Most of them get good jobs immediately after completing their course.

Top Vocational Careers

Air Traffic Controller

Educational Requirements:
  • A crucial necessity here is a certification from the FAA.
  • To become an air traffic controller, you need to complete a 30-month course at the FAA academy.
  • You also need to complete a training program approved by the FAA.
  • Rising up the ranks in this field is tough; there is a lot of competition as well as a lot of responsibility. Reaching up to a position in the airport tower will need time.
  • Even after that, you will have to undergo on-the-job training for a few months.
  • Age is an important factor here too; the applicant is required to be below 30.

Job Description

  • You will need to be alert and vigilant and decide how the traffic on the runaway needs to be controlled.
  • The main responsibility is to co-ordinate the movements of the planes.
  • The work requires tremendous presence of mind; it can be highly demanding and stressful as well.
  • He needs to monitor their movements and schedule.
  • An air traffic controller is an intrinsic part of the industry; he has complete control over the multitude of planes that land and take off.
  • He should also be aware of the flight patterns of his area.
  • The average salary is believed to be more than a whooping USD 120,000.

Radiation Therapist

Educational Requirements
  • Alternatively known as a radiologist technician, this job in health care is as crucial as any other.
  • To become a radiation therapist, one needs to undertake the required certification from either a medical school or any other specialized vocational school.
  • You will be awarded the certificate after you pass the ARRT examination.
  • Following this, you can enter the radiation therapy field; initially, you will be working under supervision, and later, you can be independent.

Job Description

  • Your job would include giving the proper, prescribed dosage of radiation, monitor the effects, make notes, and report back to the concerned doctor.
  • Radiation therapists are those who administer radiation therapy to patients undergoing cancer treatment.
  • This job can be slightly dangerous, as it involves large amount of radiation in the work environment.
• The average salary is supposed to be more than USD 80,000.

Computer Specialist

Educational Requirements
  • There are plenty of technical schools that offer you the required courses.
  • In fact, it is one of the most sought-after fields, given the increasing number of software industries.
  • You will have to undergo the required certification and then some training, after which you can start working.

Job Description

  • Do not think that you can start engineering software codes without the appropriate degree. A computer specialist is different from a computer engineer.
  • A computer specialist can be considered more of a hardware specialist, who is an expert in the hardware components of the system.
  • You will have to manage the entire system and your job profile will vary with different projects and companies.
  • Whenever the system fails to boot/reboot, shows other related bugs, it is your job to remove them.
  • You could specialize in system update, web designing, network security, etc.
• Your average salary can be around USD 70,000.

Fire Lieutenant

Educational Requirements
• More than formal education, what you need here is experience.
• You will be dealing with fire - a very risky component, consequently making your job very risky as well.
  • After that, you will need to start at the base - you will not become a supervisor immediately.
  • You need to complete a certification program from the required vocational school or at fire academies.
  • After about a year of experience of dealing with fire (to say the least), you can probably qualify for a supervisor.

Job Description

  • Also known as fire supervisors, fire lieutenants are supposed to supervise their crew during emergencies.
  • These emergencies could include fire accidents as well as accidents within the fire station itself.
  • The job is highly risky and is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
  • Most importantly, you need to keep calm, not panic, and take crucial decisions with an alert mind.
  • You need to oversee your staff, issue proper instructions, and see to it that everything is under control.
  • The average salary is around USD 68,000.

Nuclear Technologist

Educational Requirements
  • The required courses are available at many technical schools.
  • To be a nuclear technician, you will need a certification from the ARRT as well.
  • Some states may want you to obtain an additional certification from the NMTCB as well.

Job Description

  • As the drugs react, you will have to use special equipment for monitoring.
  • You will be required to give radioactive drugs to patients.
  • You will take appropriate notes and report promptly to the doctor so that the illness can be diagnosed quickly.
The salary is supposed to be around USD 100,000.

Commercial Pilot

Educational Requirements
  • To begin with, understand that a commercial pilot is different from an airline pilot.
  • To become a commercial pilot, you need a pilot's license.
  • You can take the course from a private instructor or a flight school; meaning, you don't necessarily have to attend a college.
  • You can even take a course from the military flight school.

Job Description

  • The former is aware of what route to take, what his flight schedule is, where the stopovers are, when he needs to change the route, etc.
  • As already mentioned, an airline pilot is different from a commercial pilot.
  • A commercial pilot, on the other hand, is more like a personal pilot.
  • He does not have a fixed schedule or route, he will fly the plane when needed (rather, when commanded).
  • He can fly small planes as well as helicopters.
  • He can work as the personal pilot of business magnates, politicians, presidents (in other words, all the big shots), etc., he can also fly planes in case of rescue missions during natural calamities, transport patients to hospitals, and shoulder a myriad of other responsibilities, depending on what they are assigned.
  • The average salary is more than USD 115,000


Educational Requirements
  • There is no standard educational requirement, but there are certifications and diplomas approved by the American Bar Association.
  • You can have an associate degree program that lasts for a couple of years, or a certification that ranges from 6 months to a year, depending on the school and the subjects you undertake.
  • You can take subjects, like maths, legal writing, legal research, personal injury, intellectual property, etc.

Job Description

  • As a paralegal, you will be working as a lawyer's assistant.
  • You will help him prepare for the trial or a court meeting.
  • You will research into various laws and facts pertaining to your case, and write reports that will help your lawyer during the trial.
  • You can work with established law firms, private attorneys, court offices, large corporations, even banks and insurance companies.
  • What you need to remember here is that a paralegal cannot present a case independently in court, nor can he set any fees. He can freelance after sufficient experience, of course, but he cannot offer legal advice or suggestions.
• The salary can range from USD 50,000 to USD 65,000, based on your experience.

Aircraft Mechanic

Educational Requirements
  • You will have to undergo a rigorous training module at the concerned technical school.
  • Moreover, you will be required to have more than 1 and a half years of practical experience to be a licensed aircraft mechanic.
  • You will be required to give three exams, after which you will be granted an FAA certificate and then, after some more practical experience, you will be qualified to do aircraft repairs.

Job Description

  • Your main job would be repair and maintain the aircraft.
  • Planes contain complicated machinery and equipment; your job would be to keep them all in working condition.
  • You would be required to inspect the parts, check for glitches, undertake testing, assemble components, etc.
  • You would be working on the intense internal mechanics of airplanes, helicopters, etc.
  • Your mean average salary can be around USD 60,000.

Fashion Designer

Educational Requirements
  • Depending on your interest, you can specialize in a particular domain.
  • You will need specialized training regarding fabrics, drapes, cuts, and the other dos and donts of the fashion industry.
  • The courses are of a short duration and there are plenty of job opportunities.

Job Description

  • You can begin by assisting a big-shot fashion designer.
  • You can also begin your career at a small garment factory.
  • You will be required to know how to cut fabrics, stitch them accordingly, create designs using different materials, draw new designs, etc.
  • As you gain sufficient experience and have a loyal clientele, you might be able to open your own boutique.
  • Approximately, you might be able to earn around USD 70,000.

Electronic Technician

Educational Requirements
  • An associate's degree in electronics and telecommunication and related fields involving circuit design and the like.
  • A certification in any related field.
  • Specialized training at a technical school.

Job Description

  • You will be in charge of repairing and maintaining electronic equipment.
  • You would be responsible for troubleshooting whatever electronic errors occur in the equipment, especially in cooking ranges, LEDs, circuits, etc.
  • The average salary can be around USD 57,000, annually.
It is good that more and more enrollments are being accepted for vocational courses. Of course, this does not mean you should stop taking graduate classes and start undertaking only vocational careers. Nor does it mean that you are stuck in a rut once you have a vocational career.
Being a regular student, completing graduate school, research, etc., has its own advantages. Also, as you can see above, vocational careers are well-paid nowadays.
And there is no age for education, right? If you feel you need to explore more options, you can always go back to college and continue your career. There is no limit to gaining knowledge. All the best!