What are “middle skill” jobs? These are occupations that need workers who have more than a high-school diploma, but less than a four-year degree. While the educational training time involved is less than for many skilled fields, middle skill careers can net far more than “middle wages,” and all of these fields are expected to grow faster than average.
The Brookings Institution classifies as middle skill occupations those in clerical, sales, construction, repair, production, and transportation fields, along with many careers in healthcare, engineering, law, manufacturing and protective services.
Here are 10 middle skill occupations with high projected job growth over the next decade.
1. Registered nurses
Registered nurses (RNs) provide patient care and support to family members in a variety of healthcare settings. With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, nursing and other healthcare provider job openings will rise dramatically in the next
$31.48 per hour
Entry-level education: Associate degree
+19% through 2022
526,800 new jobs
2. Nursing assistants
Nursing assistants and orderlies provide basic patient care, most often in hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Because of the growth in the elderly population, demand for nursing assistants is expected to grow faster than the average for other occupations.
$11.73 per hour
Entry-level education: Nursing assistants and orderlies must complete a state-approved education program and typically earn a certificate for healthcare training.
+21% through 2022
321,200 new jobs
3. Administrative assistants
Administrative assistants maintain the order of offices across nearly every industry by performing clerical tasks, organizing files, scheduling appointments, and supporting other staff.
$16.99 per hour
Entry-level education: While high school graduates may qualify for entry-level positions, training in computer programs and business skills is increasingly preferred by employers.
+12% through 2022
4. Customer service representatives
As more transactions take place online, customer service representatives (CSRs) play a greater role in the shopping experience and business environment. CSRs interact with customers, process orders, resolve service problems, and communicate with clients and the public.
$14.70 per hour
Entry-level education: CSRs typically need a high school diploma for an entry-level position.
+13% through 2022
298,700 new jobs
5. Construction workers
Construction laborers prepare sites, move materials, build scaffolding and foundations, and operate construction equipment.
$14.02 per hour
Entry-level education: Although entry-level labor positions require no special certifications, higher paying positions typically need certifications or associate degrees.
+25% through 2022
325,200 new jobs
Carpenters build and repair structures made from wood and other materials. These skilled construction workers must follow blueprints, and have a keen eye for measurements, craftsmanship, and detail.
$19.20 per hour
Entry-level education: Most carpenters learn their trade through apprenticeships or a career and technical education training program.
+24% through 2022
218,200 new jobs
7. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
“Paperwork” is no longer what it once was, as many businesses are transitioning to computerized financial recordkeeping. The tasks of bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks include maintaining accurate records and online databases, and balancing the books of public agencies and companies across all industries.
$16.91 per hour
Entry-level education: Associate degree is preferred. Extensive on-the-job training and certifications are often required.
+11% through 2022
204,600 new jobs
8. Truck drivers
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers often haul loads long distances, planning their routes with satellite technology. Some truck drivers buy or lease their own trucks and operate independent businesses.
$18.37 per hour
Entry-level education: Commercial driver’s license (CDL) required.
+11% through 2022
192,600 new jobs
9. Medical assistants
In addition to clerical, phone, and organizational duties, medical assistants must be familiar with medical terminology associated with hospitals or other clinical settings. Administrative professionals are often the first face in a patient’s relationship with a healthcare provider, so good communication and people skills are a must.
$15.33 per hour
Entry-level education: Associate degree or
post-secondary certificate is preferred.
+22% through 2022
252,500 new jobs
10. Licensed practical nurses
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work under the direction of doctors and RNs to care for patients in many medical settings. With the growth in the elderly population, retirement communities and nursing homes will need more LPNs
to administer basic care.
$19.97 per hour
Entry-level education: Post-secondary certificate or associate degree.
+25% through 2022
182,900 new jobs
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook