Search Jobs Jobs and Careers in Vocational Trades


Who would think that a certificate or degree from a 2-year career and technical college could make you more in demand and pay you better than a degree from a 4-year college? In many cases this is true. Work-based learning, internships and apprenticeships are available for teens.

"Vocational" jobs are some of the most skilled and technical today. Jobs of this nature fell out of favor among new workers in the Internet era of the 90’s but you should know they have become some of the more technologically advanced (and high paying) jobs you can pursue.

The best news is high school students and graduates are being sought after for work-based training, internships and apprenticeships in high demand, high growth, skilled and technical fields. There is a serious shortage of skilled workers and you can earn while you learn.

They include such trades as millwright, electrician, machinist, welder, nuclear med tech, network cabling specialist, cook, horticultural technician, mechanic, plumber, and early childhood educator to name a few.

Today, many of the jobs are getting highly technical, and math and science knowledge is crucial. For example, there are many types of welding specialties. Some of the subfields are so technical, that the welders doing the work are using state of the art computers and programming them to do the work.

More and more employers are looking for young people who bring passion, dedication and intelligence to the workplace. We feel that some of the brightest and best of today’s emerging workforce should look to the skilled and technical vocational trades for the future.

Vocational Trade Workers Needed!

Vocational Trade employment is the fastest-growing segment of the labor market. And it pays very well second only to managerial/professional jobs.

Below are just a few of the many jobs and careers available in this industry.

Construction and Extraction workers build roads, bridges, and other structures, and work in mines, quarries, oil and gas fields, commercial and residential buildings. Employment of these workers is expected to grow 22 percent. Job growth will result from increased construction of and the repair and replacement of the nation’s infrastructure.

Qualifications, Education and Training

Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools provide the education, work-based learning and primary access to internships and apprenticeships.

Most vocational workers learn their trade through a formal apprenticeship program or on the job training. There are vocational and junior colleges that award Associate degrees or Certificates in the construction trades.

Apprenticeship connects job seekers looking to learn new skills with employers looking for qualified workers. 

Apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by joint employer and labor groups, individual employers, and/or employer associations.

Applicants for apprenticeship programs must be at least 16 years old and meet the program sponsor's qualifications. Generally, applicants must satisfy the sponsor that they have the ability, aptitude, and education to master the rudiments of the occupation and complete the related instruction required in the program.

Through the Apprenticeship Agreement, an apprentice, as an employee, receives supervised, structured on-the-job training combined with related technical instruction. The instruction, usually classroom study, in a specific occupation can be held at public secondary or post-secondary schools, employer or union sponsored schools or community colleges.

Some apprenticeship programs also have dual accreditation through post-secondary institutions which apply credit for apprenticeship completion towards an Associate Degree.

Upon completing a one to five year (2,000 hours to 10,000 hours) apprenticeship, the worker receives an Apprenticeship Completion Certificate and is recognized as a qualified journeyworker nationwide. This Certificate is one of the oldest, most basic, and most highly portable industry credentials in use today. The Certificate is issued by a federally approved State Apprenticeship Council or Agency or, in those States not having such an agency, by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.

To learn about Apprenticeship in your state if available, see below.

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Entry Level Jobs

There are several jobs in this field that don’t seem to require a High School Diploma/GED though they may require you to be an adult teen 18 or older.

Here are some sample jobs in the construction and extraction area:
Masons use bricks, concrete blocks, and natural stones to build fences, walkways, walls, and other structures.
Carpenters construct and repair building frameworks and structures–such as stairways, doorframes, partitions, and rafters—made from wood and other materials. They also may install kitchen cabinets, siding, and drywall.
Carpet installers lay carpet in homes, offices, restaurants, and many other types of buildings.
Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers pour, smooth, and finish concrete floors, sidewalks, roads, and curbs. Using a cement mixture, terrazzo workers create durable and decorative surfaces for floors and stairways.
Construction and building inspectors ensure that new construction, changes, or repairs comply with local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.
Construction equipment operators drive, maneuver, or control the heavy machinery used to construct roads, bridges, buildings, and other structures.
Construction laborers and helpers do many basic tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers hang wallboards to walls and ceilings inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboards for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers do both installing and taping.
Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.
Elevator installers and repairers install, fix, and maintain elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and other lifts.
Glaziers install glass in windows, skylights, storefronts, and display cases to create distinctive designs or reduce the need for artificial lighting.
Hazardous materials removal workers (hazmat) identify and dispose of asbestos, radioactive and nuclear waste, arsenic, lead, and other hazardous materials. They also clean up materials that are flammable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic.
Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems to help control and maintain temperature.
Oil and gas workers carry out the plans for drilling that petroleum engineers have designed. They operate the equipment that digs the well and that removes the oil or gas.
Painters, construction and maintenance apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls, buildings, bridges, and other structures.
Plasterers and stucco masons apply coats of plaster or stucco to walls, ceilings, or partitions for functional and decorative purposes. Some workers apply ornamental plaster.
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases to and in businesses, homes, and factories.
Reinforcing iron and rebar workers install mesh, steel bars (rebar), or cables to reinforce concrete.
Roofers repair and install the roofs of buildings using a variety of materials, including shingles, asphalt, and metal.
Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets, such as ducts used for heating and air-conditioning.
Structural iron and steel workers install iron or steel beams, girders, and columns to form buildings, bridges, and other structures. They are often referred to as ironworkers.
Tile and marble setters apply hard tile, marble, and wood tiles to walls, floors, and other surfaces.

If you are interested in pursuing a job in this field, search for these types of job titles in the database and from our supporters.

Look for positions that are entry level, internship, coop, apprenticeship and volunteer as well.

Helpful Services

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, Construction and Extraction Occupations