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Government economic reports say that America is facing a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople, even in the current economic climate. Online vocational schools can make you desirable to employers and potentially lead to a higher salary and some job stability in this turbulent time.

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America's Skilled Trades Shortage: Online Vocational Training Offers a Measure of Job Security

The job market may be tough, but according to a government report issued in July 2009, many career fields are still growing quickly--particularly the skilled trades.

The Vocational Training Crisis
Where will these jobs come from? The construction industry is expected to rebound, creating demand for plumbers and electricians. A decline in new car purchases means that people will be looking to repair their existing vehicles, creating demand for automotive service technicians. And our nation's interest in green energy means that technicians in the environmental sciences and HVAC specialists will be needed as well. After all, even in a down economy, people need their cars, air conditioning, heating, water, and electricity.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that by 2014, the U.S. will need 100,000 workers to fill job openings in these skilled trades, and yet only 6 percent of high school students polled would consider entering these professions. Many say this supply-demand gap could lead to a crisis in the years to come, in which we simply don't have enough workers to perform these important tasks.

What's in It for You?
A number of myths surround vocational training--among them the idea that vocational graduates go on to work low-paying jobs. That's simply not true. Check out these 2008 mean annual salaries from the BLS:

•    Auto Service Technicians and Mechanics: $37,540
•    Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers: $42,240
•    Electricians: $49,890
•    Plumbers: $49,200

There's also evidence that vocational graduates are more likely to be employed than their non-vocational counterparts. Plus, those with vocational training also have a high rate of self-employment and business ownership, making them more able to have flexible schedules and increased pay and independence.

Online Vocational Training
If you're interested in a skilled trade, you're probably a hands-on learner, and a traditional 40-hour work week at a desk job isn't for you. And if you already have some on-the-job experience and are looking to enhance it with formal training, you need that same flexibility and learning style out of any vocational training program you enter. That's where online vocational training can help.

Online vocational schools offer numerous benefits--especially flexibility. Online vocational schools operate 24/7, utilizing a variety of delivery methods, from streaming video tutorials or CD-ROM training to live chats with instructors, and some even offer a mix of online and on-campus instruction. If you already have a job or a family to raise, you need to study at times that work around that schedule, and online vocational training is a perfect fit. You can then put those new lessons to work while on the job, and impress your employer.

Also, these programs can be completed in anywhere from six months to two years, so you can enter the workforce quickly, filling employer demand while it's at its most acute.

You should carefully research any online vocational school you're considering. Look at the kinds of lessons offered and how they're delivered. Try to find faculty that is experienced and up-to-date on the latest industry trends and methods, and offer enough access to suit you. Be sure to take the job placement rates among the school's graduates into consideration as well. And, of course, make sure it's fully accredited.

Online vocational training might just be your ticket to job security. Get started today.