Research Schools

Top 10 Trade School Programs

Top 10 Trade School Programs

The main goal of vocational training programs is to prepare people to work in technical related positions such as mechanics, electricians or in roles that aim to support other professionals such as veterinary assistant or dental assistant. Vocational training programs often include practical activities in the field that an individual wish to pursue a career. For example, during a vocational program an auto mechanic will practically learn how to work on an automobile, how to repair and maintain it and how to work with clients.

The growing economy and the fact that a big number of people have decided to follow career paths that step out of practical activities has left open gaps in careers related to vocational training programs. Nowadays, a great number of vocational training programs can be found in accredited universities. Although, normally this programs are given in a classroom or directly in the work place nowadays there is a great number of vocational training programs online.

In this article, we are focusing on the top ten vocational training programs in the U.S. The selection is based on the current number of employed people and the projected growth of the careers to which the programs can lead. The information about projected growth, expected number of new jobs and median annual wage in 2015 for each of the careers listed below is taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Statistics unless stated differently.

#1 Auto Mechanic
Nowadays, cars are becoming more affordable, more comfortable and they come with much more functions than a decade ago. Furthermore, streets are becoming much better and commuting to work or to a desired location is mainly done by car. As a result, when we go out of our houses, even if we do not use a car to commute to our desired destination, we see a huge number of cars in the streets moving towards a destination or being parked near houses or commercial zones. This does not come as a surprise, since the total number of registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2016 was approximately 260 million.


auto mechanic careers

This huge number of vehicles that we see around us every day sometimes do not perform as well as we want, thus we need people who can repair and maintain them. Furthermore, to ensure that a vehicle is armed with equipment which is not worn-out due to their regular use, a regular service is needed. Auto mechanics are responsible to test and ensure that auto equipment is working properly, they identify mechanical problems of a vehicle and work towards their solution. Moreover, they have the ability to disassemble and assemble a vehicle and maintain all its mechanical parts. In small companies’ auto mechanics are required to have a broad view on how a vehicle works and how to repair and maintain it. On the other hand, in bigger companies an automobile mechanic might specialize and be responsible only for certain equipment such as care brakes, suspension or hydraulic systems.

Currently there are approximately 739900 auto mechanics in the U.S. and this number is predicted to grow by 5.3% which means that an additional 39100 new positions are expected to open by 2024. An increasing number of vehicles results, of course, to an increasing number of auto mechanics. Auto mechanics, after their vocational training can work in big or small companies or in some cases follow their own venture in opening their own repair, maintenance or equipment shop. The average annual salary of an auto mechanic in 2015 was around $37000.

#2 Electrician
Nowadays, one of the most essential goods in our lives is electricity. Although in the old days’ people could easily survive without electricity in their houses, today the majority of the population has access to it and cannot even imagine few days without it. We are able to open our computer or smartphone and read articles online, we can watch television, enjoy the light from our light bulbs during night, boil water in a matter of minutes, wash our clothes in fancy washing machines and many more. All the above-mentioned appliances are powered by electricity. Some of us have already been wondering how electricity can be supplied to all this equipment in our house and how do wires end up in our roofs and provide energy for lamps to light up our houses during the night.

For everyone to enjoy a day with electricity a group people have worked on bringing the cables to our houses, or to our workplaces or to our favorite restaurant. After that, another group of people is responsible to wire the inner part of the buildings and make sure that we can plug in our devices, get access to electricity and enjoy our lives. The former group of people refers to outside linemen electricians. These electricians work mostly outdoors and, as already mentioned above, they are responsible in doing what it takes to ensure electricity is supplied from a power station to a certain destination. The latter group on the other hand refers to inside wiremen. The inside wiremen are responsible in installing wires in a new building or rearranging and installing new wires in an old building that is being renovated. As the name, might reveals the latter group of electricians works mainly indoors.

In 2016 there were 628000 electricians in the U.S. and this number is expected to considerably grow in the following years with an addition of 85900 new electricians by 2024. This translates into a growth of 13.7% in a matter of 10 years. The growth is a result of the growing electricity demand and the growing population, which of course demands to have electricity. The average annual salary of electricians in 2015 was around $51000. Electricians have the highest median annual salary from the career paths included in our list.

#3 Gunsmith
In the U.S., it is estimated that the number of guns per 100 residents is equal to 112.6, which attributes into 1.13 guns per resident. Subsequently, it is evident that the estimated number of guns in the U.S. is higher than the whole U.S. population. Guns normally consists of mechanical parts which ensure their proper functioning such as bullet launch, exhaust, cooling mechanism and the aiming mechanism. Some guns further include extra mechanisms such as a silencer or a laser aiming system.


gunsmith careers

The maintenance and reparation of all the above-mentioned gun mechanisms is done by gunsmiths. If a gun is to be expected to function well, then a regular service by a gunsmith is a must. In short, as a gunsmith you deal with clients in everyday basis and you are responsible to provide the required help regarding gun reparation or maintenance and propose solutions in problems that might arise from gun use such as overheating, pure aiming mechanism or high noise levels. A gunsmith can work in a small or big weapon reparation and distribution company or follow his own venture as a gunsmith expert. The average annual salary of a gunsmith is approximately $36000.

#4 HVAC technician
We all want to work and live in a human friendly environment where temperature levels are optimal and ventilation is done properly. Our effectiveness sometimes is highly dependent on this environment since we cannot focus to write an article with cold hands, or we cannot focus on reading an article regarding the top ten vocational training programs when we are sweating due to high temperatures. To regulate the temperature and the air quality in our workplace and home environments we are using heating elements, air conditioning and ventilators. Furthermore, in order to keep something in very low temperatures, for example create ice cubes from water, we are using refrigerators.

The installation and maintenance of the above-mentioned appliances is usually performed by HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning) technicians. HVAC technicians have the ability to follow blueprints and properly install HVAC systems, including electrical wiring and connection to fuel systems. Furthermore, they are responsible in maintaining the above-mentioned systems and in case it is needed perform any reparations. It is, sometimes, expected that the HVAC technician will be working in humid, hot or cold environment since they will have to repair problematic equipment.

The growth expectations for HVAC technicians are very promising. The total number of job opportunities in 2016 was 292000 and the estimated growth for the following years is 13.6%. Thus approximately 39600 new job opportunities will be added to the current ones by 2024. This growth might be further enhanced due to the ongoing rising earth temperatures resulting from the greenhouse effect and overpopulation of the planet. The average annual salary of HVAC technicians in 2015 was $45000, one of the highest among the career paths in our list.

#5 Locksmith
Few days ago, I was rushing to leave my home because I was running late in a scheduled meeting with a friend. In my rush, I totally forgot to grab my key which was left on the dining table. As bad as it sounds, it might happen to anyone at any time. To get in my house I had to either try to break in, which is not one of my hobbies and I have no experience in it, or call a professional to open the door for me. I decided to go with the latter option which seemed safer and wiser. The person who let me in my house was the locksmith which is located few squares away from my house.


Locksmiths are not only responsible in helping people that left their house without their keys but also in installing and repairing locks in buildings, cars, windows, safes etcetera. They can create keys, fabricate locks, install and maintain security systems in order to secure the safety of a client.

In 2016 there were approximately 20000 open positions for locksmiths. Although it is expected that the total number of locksmith opportunities will decline by 14.8% by 2024, there is a high number of locksmiths that are expected to get into retirement by then. Thus, in total the expected number of new job openings for locksmiths is expected to reach 10700 which is a relatively high number if we consider that the current number of open positions is 20000. The annual average salary of a locksmith in 2015 was approximately $39000.

#6 Medical Assistant
It is expected that during the following years the sector which will face the higher growth in job opportunities is the healthcare sector. This comes without a surprise since the U.S. population increases but also becomes older. More specifically, in 2012 39.9% of the total U.S. population was older than 45 years old. The majority of people that are in their senior age visit hospitals regularly in order to ensure that they remain healthy and to prevent any unexpected problems. Furthermore, some people might need a type of treatment or stay in a hospital or clinic for a certain period. It is of course, of crucian importance that people after a treatment or people that need care are treated properly by specialists in the field.


medical assistant careers

A medical assistant will mainly be the right hand of a physician or a nurse. They are responsible to make the life of the physician, nurse and the patient easier by performing their daily tasks regarding the treatment of the patient. In short, a medical assistant might perform administrative work such as receptionist duties, handling billing or the forms filled by patients. Moreover, they are responsible in making patients feel at home and answering any of their questions and performing clinical duties such as examining samples taken by patients and communicating medication programs to them.

The number of medical assistant job opportunities in 2016 was 591000 which is one of the highest in this list. This number is expected to grow further by 138900 in 2024 and reach 729900 open positions. This translates to 23.5% growth which is the highest in our list and attributes to the reason that medical assistant is one of the top ten vocational training program options. The average annual salary of medical assistants in 2015 was approximately $30000.

#7 Dental Assistant
As already mentioned in the previous career path in our top ten vocational career list, health care sector related job opportunities are expected to grow the most, in terms of numbers, during the following years. We have seen that this is probably attributed to the growing population of the U.S. Another reason that is positively affecting this growth might be the fact that nowadays people care much more of their wellbeing. To ensure a healthy life we need to also ensure that our teeth retain their structural integrity. After all we use our teeth daily in order to process our food, to speak clearly and to look beautiful.

Similar to the medical assistant, which is responsible in helping physicians, nurses and patients with medical related problems, dental assistant is assisting the dentist and helps patients with dental related problems. More specifically dental assistants help patients to feel comfortable in the dental chair before an operation, they make sure that dental instruments and treatment area remain clean before, during and after an operation, they support dentists during an operation by holding or using certain dental equipment and they educate patients about topics related to their dental health. Finally, dental assistants can be responsible in scheduling meetings between the dentist and patients, and arranging billing and payments with patients.

As already discussed healthcare related careers are expected to considerably grow in the following years. Subsequently the number of the 318000 job opportunities for dental assistants in 2016 is also expected to considerably grow and reach 376500 in 2024. This translates to 18.4% growth which is one of the highest in our list. In 2015, the starting annual salary of a dental assistant was reported to be $26950 while the experts in the field earned approximately $50660 per year. The average annual wage in the same year was around $35000.

#8 Truck Driver - CDL License
Products are fabricated or packed in a factory and then transferred to a shop or directly to a customer. Every day products like cars, fruits, small healthcare products and many more are transported within the U.S. and exported to or imported from other countries. The transportation is mainly done by ships, airplanes, small vehicles such as cars or motorcycles or big vehicles such as trucks and trains. When we refer to short distance transportation motor vehicles take the lead. More specifically, referring to only domestic trade, nearly 10.5 billion tons of freight has been transported by motor vehicles, mainly trucks. This accounts to 70.1% share of all freight transported domestically in the U.S. in 2016.


truck driving careers

Since we are not yet in the position to have automated track lines that are able to effectively and safely move cargo from one destination to another it is essential that the 10.5 billion tons of freight are driven by a professional. In this case a truck driver. Truck drivers are responsible in distributing products from retail centers, manufacturing plants or distribution centers to a client. Truck drivers are expected to travel long distances, thus stay away from home for long periods of time. Consequently, one can say that truck driver is not a normal career path but more like a lifestyle. Furthermore, truck drivers are expected to be able to effectively deal with challenges regarding transferring a product to a client such as bad weather, punctured tires, mechanical problems etcetera. Earn your CDL license from an accredited truck driving school.

As we can see from the amount of freight transported domestically in the U.S. a high number of truck drivers are required. Namely, in 2016 there were 1797000 job opportunities for truck drivers and this number is expected to grow further by 5.5% to 1896500 open positions in 2024. This makes truck drivers the career path with the highest number of job opportunities in our list. As a truck driver, you can work for a company or even own your own truck and follow your own venture. The annual average salary for truck drivers in 2015 was $40000 which is among the highest in our list.

#9 Graphic Designer
By opening a website one can see a variety of colors, images and a certain website structure. In some cases, the visuals will be tiring, too bright or very complex while in other cases they are very smooth, calm; they can help you concentrate and feel the topic of the website. The same happens when we look at a banner during our commuting time in the road, or a commercial in the television or in a store or our workplace. There is always an optimal way that visuals can be used in order to communicate a message to a target group of people. The way something is structured, the colors, the detail that is given to something, the contrast in an image, all these aspects can be used to create an image, or design a place in order not only to look more appealing but also to deliver a certain message. For example, an image of a rotten apple can deliver the message that the food is not good while healthy apple points out that the food is healthy.

These visuals that might represent only an image or complex messages are created by professionals, graphic designers. As we can see in the above discussion, nowadays, there is a necessity in working with graphic designers. Graphic designers are responsible in conveying a message with the use of visual effects. More specifically they work with clients to determine a message that a specific design will convey to a target group of people, then they create visual images, either by hand or with the use of specialized computer software, which can be used to convey this message. Finally, they are responsible in reviewing the designs and ensuring that they are error free before they are published.

As already mentioned, nowadays there is a high demand in graphic designers due to their high impact in marketing and their ability to convey messages with visuals. This reflects into 261000 job opportunities for graphic designers in 2016, which is one of the highest in our list. This number is expected to grow further to 264500 in 2024. As a graphic designer, it is possible to work for a company, open a graphic design office or work as a freelancer. The annual median wage of graphic designers in 2015 was $46000 which is among the highest in our list.

#10 Veterinary Assistant
It is reported that in 2012 there were approximately 70 million dogs, 74 million cuts 8.3 million birds and 4.8 million horses as pets in the U.S., not to mention exotic pets such as ferrets, guinea pigs, snakes and others. The above-mentioned numbers of pets are living in approximately 84 million households and the average annual expenditure per household for veterinary professionals was $284. This gives us a number of 23856 million dollars spent for animal treatment in the U.S. in 2012. This number is one of the reasons that veterinary assistant is in our list of the top ten vocational training programs.

Veterinary assistants mainly care about non-farm animals. They act under the instructions of veterinarians or animal scientists and they are responsible in taking care of animals and monitoring their progress after a surgery, ensuring that operation and living places of animals are clean and surgical equipment is sterilized properly. Moreover, they have the ability to provide medication or vaccination to animals, collect blood or other samples from them for testing purposes and make sure the animals remain clean and healthy during their presence in a clinic. For people that love animals this is one of the most exciting career paths.

In 2016 there were 24000 open positions for veterinarian assistants. This number is projected to grow by 9% and reach 26160 in 2024. Veterinarians assistants, usually work in animal clinics, laboratories or universities. Annual salaries for veterinarian assistants in 2015 ranged from $18000 for young professionals up to $36600 for experts in the field. The average annual wage in the same year was $24000.

Veterinarian assistants is the last entry in our list. In this article, we have presented the top ten vocational training programs based on their career perspectives and growth potential. We have discussed a great variety of programs, we have presented daily life problems that one might encounter in a career after finishing a training program and we talked about the potential of being employed and the average salary to be expected for each career path. Our list serves as a guide on which vocational training programs can potentially lead to an engaging career path.