Pick the Right Career: These Industries Need Workers
As you try to settle on your perfect career, you’re likely to feel anxious about what types of jobs you can land, when and where you’re going to find them and how much training you’ll need to get them.
Ed Capodanno has some good news.
“I think the trend of the future is that while college degrees are important, you can have a very good career without a college degree,” says Capodanno, president of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Delaware.
While it’s always a good idea to get training and education after high school, there are many fields that offer immediate employment opportunities with excellent salaries, plus a chance for advancement and skill development. According to Michael Quaranta, president of the Delaware Chamber of Commerce and head of the Delaware Manufacturing Association, someone who completes a three-to-five-month certification program in manufacturing after high school can get an entry-level position with a salary and benefits package of “$65-70,000, and maybe more” — all before their 20th birthday.
Quaranta also says adults who have manufacturing experience and return to the field can reach six figures in compensation — far above the average family income in Delaware, which is $72,724, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
But it’s not all about the money. People want careers that fulfill them, provide security and offer the chance for them to grow professionally. There are plenty of those available.
Capodanno says apprenticeships in the building and contracting trades, which last four years, provide workers with a chance to earn money during the day while gaining training at night. At the end, apprentices earn journeyman craftsman designations or are even master craftsmen. That allows them to get full-time positions. From there, they can move up in an industry that has seen back-to-back years with $1 billion spent by the state on building projects — and much more by private entities.
“They can become supervisors, then move into the office to oversee an entire project,” Capodanno says.
According to the Delaware Department of Labor, positions for construction managers are expected to grow at a rate of 2.6% a year through 2030. The average hourly entry wage for such positions is $45.65. That translates to $91,300 a year.
Demand for construction laborers and electricians also is expected to grow significantly. Even at the entry level, electricians in Delaware can expect to make about $38,000 a year.
Manufacturing and Logistics
Quaranta says there is a growing need in the manufacturing industry for people able to work in the chemical and pharmaceutical fields. These positions are well-compensated too —for example, the average wage for a chemical technician in Delaware is $63,238, according to the Delaware Department of Labor. Other well-compensated positions include electrical and electronics engineering technicians ($64,654), industrial machinery mechanics ($60,777) and machinists ($57,848).
Places like Delaware Technical Community College offer certification programs in general and specialty manufacturing, as well as courses that can help people move into management, and computer classes that provide important technical education. And high school students in the state can participate in Pathways programs and co-op opportunities to prepare them for careers after graduation.
Quaranta says the pandemic showed us how vulnerable the nation is when it relies on supplies from other parts of the world. Therefore, manufacturing in this country — and Delaware— is picking up, the better to provide companies with components they need. And logistics specialists are needed to make sure processes move smoothly throughout the supply chain.
“If there is a hiccup in one step, it can mess up the whole flow,” he says. “Logistics are an important part of the economy.”
In the logistics sector, there is always demand for truck drivers, who can have salaries in the range of $65,000 to above $100,000 even in their first years on the job, according to Bryan Ward, department chair for commercial transportation technologies at Delaware Technical Community College. While drivers spend a lot of time on the road, there are federal regulations that ensure adequate rest periods.
Another area of transportation and logistics— aviation — also has well-compensated jobs available. For example, aircraft mechanics and service technicians in Delaware can expect to make $68,840 on average.
One area of the economy that offers opportunities early on for high school students is hospitality, which has many jobs for those who have not yet graduated. “Our industry is in tremendous need of labor,” says Raelynn Grogan, executive director of the Delaware Restaurant Association and Foundation. Grogan says there are 1,000 unfilled jobs in Delaware alone. She cites the flexibility available in the hospitality sector, as well as the opportunities for rapid advancement.
Students in Delaware can take part in ProStart, a two-year program that teaches practical skills and provides experience. There is a Pathways program that can teach culinary skills, and a U.S. Department of Labor grant has provided apprenticeship opportunities for Delaware high school students.
“It’s all competency-based,” Grogan says.“ As you achieve things, you can move up and also get wage increases as you complete the program. The skills you obtain in our industry are transferable across the board in all industries.”
If you’d like to stay in hospitality though, chances are good: restaurant cooks are projected to be Delaware’s second-fastest-growing occupation through 2030, according to the Delaware Department of Labor.
There is no faster-growing field than healthcare. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 13% growth in employment between now and 2031, resulting in about two million new jobs in a variety of the industry’s sectors.
Careers that don’t require a four-year degree include nuclear medicine technologists ($84,420 average wage in Delaware), who prepare and administer radioactive drugs for imaging or treatment; EMTs/paramedics ($45,529); and medical secretaries ($37,003).
At ChristianaCare, which is headquartered in Wilmington, the Patient Care Technician Training program will help people learn standard medical care, such as how to take blood pressure, read charts, understand the need for patient confidentiality and help caregivers anticipate patients’ needs. Another opportunity for job seekers is “Coder University,” the name used to describe the training provided to those who want to become competent in medical technology and coding. The training helps ChristianaCare attract and maintain workers.’
“It allows us to recruit people to work here, but we can also re-recruit and retain people who are already here,” says Pamela Ridgeway, VP of talent & acquisition and chief diversity officer at ChristianaCare.
The kind of training done at ChristianaCare is replicated at other healthcare institutions throughout the state. The goal is to teach people how to do specific jobs while also offering pathways for them to advance and enhance their careers. ChristianaCare offers shadowing opportunities for high school students investigating whether healthcare is an available employment path for them, and Ridgewaysays the health system will “take it up a notch” in terms of offering further opportunities to those still in school. It’s a wise strategy and one that continues to help high school students and graduates find jobs in Delaware— and prepare themselves for other opportunities that arise.
The financial services sector has long been one of Delaware’s strongest, with major institutions such as JPMorgan Chase and WSFS Bank located here.
While many jobs in banking require four-year degrees, not all do. As technology has grown ever more important in the financial sector, tech positions need qualified candidates. Local training providers like Zip Code Wilmington and Code Differently have stepped up to teach the required skills to job seekers. (JPMorgan has teamed up with both organizations to fund workforce development programs.)
Non-tech careers in financial services that don’t require a four-year degree include insurance sales agents (average wage of $65,042), brokerage clerks ($60,557), loan interviewers ($42,267) and tellers ($34,168)