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HAPPENINGS: Potential careers for high school grads and others

By Janice Crose | Special to Gannett

There are many careers these days that pay well and need people to choose them. With all of the attention on a college degree, the trades and the skills required for those trades have been left behind.

Our country has a shortage of electricians, plumbers, qualified air conditioner and heater repairmen, auto mechanics, machinists, pharmacy technicians, security managers, warehouse managers, and medical billing specialists, as well as handy persons.

Janice Lynn Crose

While all of these jobs require training and specific knowledge — and in some cases, working as a journeyman to get experience — they pay well and won't cost tens of thousands of dollars to get started.

For instance, a good car mechanic can learn some needed skills by helping others work on their vehicle, changing the oil, brakes and so on. Classes can be taken at a trade school. Then Automobile Service Excellence (ASE) offers many certifications for mechanics, from engine repair, suspension, transmission, brakes and so on.

Once the classes are completed, the mechanic must pass a test on what was learned. Each specialty has its own test to receive certification. A beginning auto mechanic can start between $15 to $18 per hour. The median income for a mechanic is $60,000 per year. This all varies with years of experience, certifications, the shop and so forth. Some of the top mechanics make $90,000-plus per year. An auto shop owner can make more than that.

Electricians are very much needed. Basic requirements are a high school education and then enrollment in a trade/technical school to learn the basics of the electrician's job. Then one applies to become an apprentice electrician, with a master electrician teaching all the needed skills.

An apprenticeship is basically on-the-job training. It takes four to five years of being an apprentice before you can become a fully licensed electrician. In most states an exam is required before the electrician's license is granted. There are many skills required to be an electrician, particularly an aptitude for math, as well as how to read blueprints.

A beginning apprentice starts at around $11.77 per hour, with the median salary being $27.01 per hour. Top electricians can make over $46 per hour, which translates to $95,680 per year. Obviously if one becomes an electrical contractor and owns their own company, the sky could be the limit.

Plumbers also make good money. As with electricians, one would need to enroll in a trade/technical school for about a year, then become an apprentice plumber. The process takes about five years and then the plumber's exam will be required before the state or other government agency will grant your license.

Apprentice plumbers start at about $15.14 per hour, with the median salary for a licensed master plumber between $48,000 to $75,000 per year. If one opens their own business, then the amount of money that can be made is much higher. 

One doesn't need to go to college and incur a huge debt in order to make a good living. So think about these careers when deciding upon your future.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.