The Top 9 Best Trade Jobs Ever

As more and more students graduate from high school and attend college, they increasingly look over trade schools. In turn, this has caused a drastic shortage of labor for jobs that require skilled trades and vocational training. Electricians, welders, and construction workers are all receiving higher pay and better benefits for the work they perform. If you’re curious about becoming a skilled tradesperson, there are many different potential jobs and schools you could attend.

To qualify for these jobs, you must first learn to work a skilled trade. These skills are often taught at vocational schools. You may also hear them called technical schools, trade schools, or career schools, but they all perform the same function: to train individuals to work jobs that require complicated or dangerous tools. For years, high schools in the United States taught these vocational skills alongside academic ones. Since the dawning of the 1990s, however, vocational training has waned as schools began to emphasize academics and test scores as a means to get more federal money flowing into already shrinking budgets. As a result, many young individuals perceive trade schools negatively even though they often offer more opportunities and higher paying jobs than their academic counterparts.

In society, humans will always need houses to live in, buildings to conduct work in, and transportation to move between them. Inevitably, these things need to be built, maintained, and repaired, and these services don’t come for free. Vocational training is an essential part of society today, and figuring out a perfect trade job for yourself can be an invigorating and life-changing experience. In great detail, here is a list of 9 of the best trade jobs ever.

1. Construction Manager

construction manager

These managers, also known as general contractors, are the central role of any construction project. Construction managers work with engineers and architects to ensure everyone involved in a construction project, whether residential, commercial, or federal, is on the same page. Contractors also ensure estimates are accurate and that building is occurring at a reasonable pace. The job description quite literally says it all: construction managers manage construction.

They must determine what resources a project requires and then figure out how those resources can be put into action, no matter if they’re building a residential kitchen or a palatial mansion. Contractors are responsible for using blueprints to determine the amount of materials, cost estimations, and the number of hours a project will take.

Furthermore, managers have to hire the labor force of construction workers to get the job done, and make sure they’re working consistently throughout the operation. Gathering permits and managing client expectations are also key to the construction manager career.

Estimated Salary: $87,000

2. Energy Manager

energy manager

These skilled laborers evaluate the amount of energy a structure uses, whether it’s a home, business, or other type of agency. Also known as energy auditors, these individuals use the data collected from their sources to form plans for reducing energy use, methods for bolstering efficiency, and ways to lower energy costs. Energy managers often work for government agencies or in offices. Sometimes, environmental agencies may work alongside energy managers to make sustainable forms of energy that also keep costs down.

Generic companies may hire energy auditors to lower manufacturing costs due to energy, while other times utility companies hire them to instruct residents on how to maximize the energy efficiency in their homes. This job requires a number of analytic abilities, including ways to inspect HVAC, appliances, or wiring to determine how much energy a structure is using.

Estimated Salary: $74,000

3. Landscape Designer

landscape designer

Crafting beautiful landscapes and gardens does not happen by chance. The individuals responsible for the planning of these verdant areas are landscape designers. The job requires attention to detail, creative thinking, and the ability to think outside the box. In terms of employment, landscaping designers often work for a landscaping company, planning projects for residential or commercial spaces. Residential areas may require planning different types of vegetation, constructing irrigation systems, or installing various garden implements. 

Those designers with strong entrepreneurial drives may find themselves working on independent contracting, often in conjunction with housing developments or apartment complexes. Municipal governments also hire landscaping designers to plan public spaces or to assist landscape architects with large projects, whether they are city parks, schools, government agencies, or grassy medians on wide boulevards.

Estimated Salary: $64,000

4. Electronic Engineer

electronic engineer

These engineers develop and design various electronic equipment in all sorts of capacities. From GPS systems to radio towers, smartwatches to smartphones, electronic engineers test products and perform maintenance on all sorts of electronic devices. Some engineers work with computer hardware, crafting circuit boards and other internal components of computers that your average person never sees or thinks about. Electronic engineers can work in a wide variety of fields because the work they do is so widely needed. Computer companies, government agencies, cellphone companies, or instrument makers all may hire electronic engineers to build the products they want to sell.

Estimated Salary: $61,000

5. Electrician


An electrician is one of the classic vocational trades, a flexible position that can work in almost any industry. The modern world is powered by electricity in nearly every capacity, from the pacemakers in our hearts to the smartphones in our pockets. The two main types of electrician work are Inside and Residential. Inside electricians focus on motors, machines, and implements at manufacturing plants or factories, fixing the electronics therein. Residential electricians focus on houses, ensuring that light fixtures and wiring are up to code and appropriately installed. From installation, construction, repair, and maintenance, working with electricity can be a lucrative career.

Estimated Salary: $52,000

6. Carpenter


Another traditional vocational trade, carpentry is one of the most widely-needed jobs in the construction world. Carpenters are in charge of the raw building materials needed for a project. They cut, form, and shape these materials and eventually install them in the necessary way to form basic structures like walls, stairs, windows, and hundreds of other common building fixtures. Carpenters can work in many different construction industries, from commercial to residential, even within the same day. Whether it’s analyzing blueprints or measuring materials, carpentry takes an eye for detail and a patience for accuracy.

Estimated Salary: $42,000

7. Mason


Many different buildings aren’t built of single, solid masses of material. Instead, they are built like mosaics, by combining individual units one by one until a beautiful structure is built. This process is known as masonry, performed by an individual known as a mason. Masons ply their trades in all types of environments, whether building a house from brick or an assembly hall from pieces of glass. Schools built from cinderblocks often require skilled masons, as do residential kitchens that use stone walls for a backsplash. Brickmasons, blockmasons, or brick layers are all responsible for interpreting blueprints and determining what types of materials a project requires. Masons often work for construction companies, cutting bricks and mortaring them together.

Estimated Salary: $40,000

8. Welder


Welding is famous for being a highly-paid and highly-skilled career, and this perception has yet to wane. To become a welder, a person must take extremely specified training, because the job requires a great amount of precision and safety. Welders join metals and thermoplastics together by using sculptural fusion. The energy used to weld metal together may be lasers, gas flame, or ultrasound, which all vary in their degree of danger and excitement. Welders can work in a large variety of different areas, including manufacturing or construction. Of course, welders not only join metal together but also have to rip old machines or cars apart to get that metal in the first place.

Estimated Salary: $38,000

9. Car Mechanic

car mechanic

From cars to trucks to vans to motorcycles, automotive mechanics fix nearly any form of transportation on the road today. Vehicles require many different types of work to be done, ensuring that a car mechanic’s day-to-day job experience is never stale or boring. Mechanics perform preventative maintenance on cars, including making sure the oil is regularly changed and brakes are in good shape. 

Basic maintenance, like changing tires or figuring out what’s wrong with an engine, is also required. The big daddy of them all, of course, is diagnosing and performing repairs on vehicles that need it. Although the majority of mechanics work in an automotive shop, some may choose to work as teachers, at a dealership, or for mobile mechanic service companies like AAA.

Estimated Salary: $38,000

Parting Thoughts

No matter what trade job you find yourself interested in, all nine of these top-quality positions offer competitive salaries with on-the-job apprenticeships or trainings. The practical skills required to work these jobs will never stop being necessary in society, even with the advances made in automated technology. In fact, automated technology is only a boon to the trades—someone has to wire, design, and maintain those machines! As more individuals pursue paths outside of vocational training, the skills trade schools teach only continue to become more valuable. By pursuing a career in the vocational world, you may be able to set yourself up for more success than you could ever dream of.

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Baking School Basics

If you have a passion for baking, then you might consider attending a baking school. This type of school focuses on teaching you all the different aspects of baking. The challenge will be finding a school dedicated to just baking. More often, you will find baking courses as part of a culinary education program. Some culinary schools may offer a baking option. You may also have to take pastry courses because schools often lump these classes together.

The Difference Between Culinary, Pastry and Baking

gourmet chef
gourmet chef

It is important to understand that culinary programs and baking programs are different. Culinary programs focus on producing meals, appetizers, soups and other food items that are not dessert-related. Even a pastry course and a baking course differ. A pastry course would focus on pies, tarts and similar foods. Baking courses specifically focus on baked goods, such as cakes and cookies. While pastry and baking are similar in that they focus on sweets, they do not always teach the same concepts, which is important to understand.

Before choosing a program, you really have to find out what type of program it is and ensure it will teach the concepts you need to learn related to baking. You also probably want to avoid having to take cooking classes if you have no desire to become a chef and wish to solely focus on baking. Learning some pastry techniques will typically be a part of any baking program, so that's not as big of a concern.


kneading dough

Once you find a good program, you can expect that it will cover many different baking techniques and practices. Some of the things you may learn in a program include:

  • Food science: Baking is a science because it requires specific measurements to bring about reactions that produce the type of baked good you are making. You have to understand the science behind baking to be really skilled at it.
  • Kitchen math: Measuring is an important part of baking. You will learn all about how to measure the different types of ingredients, including measuring by weight.
  • Eggs: You may think there isn't much to learn about eggs, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are plenty of baked goods that rely on eggs to make them what they are, such as meringue and souffles. You will usually have an in-depth study of eggs and how to use them correctly, how to choose them, how to know when they are good or bad and how they affect your baked goods.
  • Yeast: Yeast is another important ingredient in baking. It is a very tricky ingredient, so you will learn how to use it properly. You will also learn the science behind yeast to help ensure your yeast-based baked goods always turn out.
  • Cake decoration: This is a true art and involves many different techniques that you are sure to learn in a baking program.
  • Sugar work: Sugar is an important part of any baked good. You will learn how to work with it and use it to create amazing treats.
  • Plating techniques: Serving up your finished baked goods can be done with flair. A program may include classes on how to plate your baked goods or how to finish them so they look wonderful.
  • Safety: Baking can be dangerous. You are working around hot ovens and machinery. Most programs will have courses on kitchen safety.
  • Sanitation: You always have to think about keeping a clean workspace and not doing anything that could make people sick. Courses will usually cover sanitation requirements and techniques.

You will also likely learn to make specific baked goods. Here's a list of things you may learn to make while attending baking school:

  1. Choux pastry
  2. Bread
  3. Buttercream
  4. Cookies
  5. Layer cakes

Some programs may be more business focused, offering you courses and classes that teach how to run your own bakery. Additional topics covered in such a program may include how to manage inventory, how to market and how to plan your menu.

How to Know If Baking School Is the Right Choice

making deserts

Not everyone is meant to be a baker. In fact, many professional chefs shy away from baking. It is one of the hardest culinary arts to master because it requires preciseness and is science-based. Obviously, if you have a natural inclination towards baking or you already like to bake, then you probably don't even need to ask if this is the right path for you. However, if you are on the fence, it may help to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you mind working in a hot environment?
  2. Do you want a job where you are on your feet for long hours?
  3. Do enjoy working with people?
  4. Are you a creative person?
  5. Do have good attention to detail?
  6. Are you physically able to lift heavy things?

Your answers to these questions are important because working as a baker requires you to work long hours in a hot kitchen. You will be on your feet for many hours a day. You will have to work with customers to get orders and make sales. You have to be creative, so you can make items that people will want to buy. Attention to detail is a must or you won't be able to create yummy and beautiful treats. Finally, you will be lifting large bags or tubs of ingredients and hauling around baked goods a lot, so you need to have some muscle.

Of course, the exact job duties you have will depend on where you want to work. There are plenty of options. You could work in a bakery, a grocery store, a restaurant or own your own business. There are even opportunities with large companies and private individuals. Where you work can bring about other obstacles. For example, starting your own business requires taking on all the duties of a business owner in addition to baking.

The bottom line is that you should make sure baking really is your passion before you invest in school. Baking school can be intense and time-consuming. You don't want to spend money and time on something that is not going to turn into a career. You may be better off taking a hobby class in cake decorating or pastry making instead of enrolling in a baking school.

Words of Advice

If you are committed to enrolling in baking school, then you should get prepared before you embark on this journey. There are many aspects to the process that you may not even think about, especially if you are just excited about getting your start in the field.

The first thing you should know is that it will be intense. Bakers take their craft very seriously. You will probably be taught by instructors who have dedicated their lives to baking. They want to help you succeed, but if you aren't taking things seriously, they will know, and they won't be happy about it. They will expect perfection or as close to it as possible. You may have to bake the same item over and over before the instructor passes you on it. Expect to spend plenty of time outside of school baking and perfecting your techniques.

head chef

Baking school tools are much different than your kitchen tools. Not only are the instructors intense, but the tools you'll use are intense. You will probably use commercial grade products to bake with. They may work differently than your home tools. Be ready for a learning curve as you get used to using them.

Accidents can and will happen. You are working with sharp knives, high-speed mixers and steaming hot ovens. There is bound to be an accident or two. Safety in the kitchen will be highly stressed, so severe accidents are usually avoided, but do not be surprised to get some burns and cuts as you work through the program.

Finally, it can be an emotional experience. Baking is art, and anything that you put your heart and soul into can be draining. You may struggle with certain assignments. There may be techniques that you just can't seem to get. You may beat yourself up over it. You may get upset. All of this is totally normal. In fact, if you weren't so passionate about baking, you probably wouldn't care, and that is not good. Just know that you may be all over the spectrum of emotions.

Wrapping Up

chef miniature on top of cake

Baking school can be a great option if you really want to be a professional baker. Through such a program, you will learn all the formal techniques and practices that will help you to become a master at your craft. Remember, though, finding a baking program may be tricky since baking sometimes is lumped in with pastry and culinary programs. Just choose carefully.

Furthermore, a formal education in baking may not be for everyone. Make sure you have the passion to go through with a program. In the end, if you really are a baker at heart, you will be so happy that you took the time to ensure it was the right path. You will have many avenues open up to you for a career in the field of baking and be prepared to tackle any baking challenge that comes your way.


How To Pick the Perfect Electrician School for You

For good reason, more women and men today are choosing to pursue a career as a master electrician. Opportunities abound, from helping families light their homes to designing complicated electrical networks for skyscrapers, sports stadiums, and everything in between. Electricians earn a competitive salary, as much as $90,000 a year on average by some estimates, and experts predict double-digit job growth through 2025.


Making the decision isn’t as easy as actually doing it, however. Becoming an electrician takes dedication and a long-term commitment to learning. The process begins with an apprenticeship and technical schooling. That’s where you gain the real-world experience you need to obtain your journeyman license, a necessary credential to becoming a master electrician and contractor.

Learn Your Local Licensing Rules

Before you select an educational program, it is important you learn your local licensing rules. Usually, licensing rules apply statewide, but there are instances in which those rules change at the city and county levels. Each local jurisdiction establishes its own on-the-job training and classroom hour requirements.

Students must meet these prerequisites before they can take the journeyman examination and move on to the next level of their careers. On average, including schooling, this is somewhere between four and six years as an apprentice electrician at a contracting company or a state utility. This equates to something close to 575 to 1,000 hours of classroom study and 8,000 to 10,000 hours of on-the-job training.

Contact your local building department to learn more about what is required of you. The staff may know the rules or can point you in the right direction. Also, consider reaching out to your local electricians union to both network and understand licensing expectations. Finally, contact the National Electrical Contractors Association, the national voice of the electrical construction industry. NECA’s website includes links to state licensing rules as well as content focused on core curriculum and other studies.

Get Ready To Go to School

Selecting an electrician school is the first step on your journey. Here are some tips on how to pick the right one for you.

1. Make Sure You Have a Solid Foundation


Apprenticeship programs do not require a college degree, but some high school courses are called for. Most programs require the completion of at least one year of algebra. Others may necessitate, or strongly suggest, classes in physics, mechanical drawing and industrial arts.

2. Determine Your Type

While no more than a high school diploma is necessary to become an electrician, many apprenticeship programs encourage future electricians to pursue some higher education. Students who take that advice and search for the right secondary school have some options.

They may select a vocational or trade school. Vo-Ed schools offer diploma or certificate programs and often take no more than a year or two to complete. Courses are often available to high schoolers, allowing students to get a jump on their apprenticeship commitment.

Others may choose to get an associate’s degree from a community or junior college. Attending a community college gives students the opportunity to explore electives outside their degree program, which may help them develop complementary skills that will support their electrical career.

Finally, many electricians get both their schooling and apprenticeship hours by joining the military and serving their country while learning the skill. They may even reach journeyman status while serving.

3. Add Up Those Hours


As you are reviewing licensing rules, check to see if any part of your formal coursework counts as on-the-job experience. You may find a year of school equals up to 1,000 hours of real world experience. Two years of higher education could reduce your work experience commitment by 2,000 hours, the usual limit for most apprentice programs. That still leaves you with 6,000 to 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, though your school may have that covered, too.

4. Get Help Finding Work

shake hands

When choosing an electrician program, ask about job placement. Many vocational schools and some community college programs offer job placement assistance. Once you connect with the right employer, you would continue your apprenticeship requirement.

Your school may even offer a journeyman program. Typically two years long, the programs align with state requirements and include on-the-job experience in parallel with classroom study. Once the program is completed, you could graduate with 4,000 hours of apprenticeship under your belt. Many students who complete this type of program remain with their employer and finish their required apprenticeship hours.

5. Red Flags to Watch Out For

red flag

Because the profession is booming, there are many educational options available to new students. Not every electrician program is built the same, however. Do your research and avoid schools with any of these red flags:

6. Guaranteed Certification


Do not let this turn of phrase fool you. There are no “certified electricians,” only licensed electricians, and no student leaves school as a licensed electrician. You may get a certification of completion from the school, but that really does not mean anything with respect to your apprenticeship requirements.

7. Pristine Labs

trade school

Do the labs look too good to be true? If so, they probably are. Many vocational schools will stage classrooms and workspaces for tours. While it may look like you will have everything you need, the truth may be different. Ask to speak with students in the middle of the program. See what they think about the coursework, what they are learning, and if there are enough opportunities available to get real hands-on experience.

8. Inexperienced Instructors

trade school instructor

While the instructor may sound like he knows what he’s talking about, there is a chance he only has enough experience to teach the class adequately. Program instruction requirements may only ask for a few years of hands-on work. When it takes nearly 10,000 hours to get to journeyman licensing, you don’t want to learn from someone who may not even have that. Ask for credentials and make sure the instructors are master electricians.

9. The School’s Tools are Required

trade school tools

If you have to purchase tools from the school, there is a chance those tools are subpar. Some schools make money marking up tools and selling them to students. A high quality set likely costs the same — or less. It is worth making sure you can bring your own tools to class.

10. The Program Paints with a Broad Brush


This is another way of saying program coursework tries to cover everything under the sun. While it is true that there are many opportunities for electricians, it is also true that most electricians focus on one specific skill. In other words, a program with broad coursework won’t adequately prepare you for apprenticeship. Rather than learn a little bit about many work environments, hone in on the area in which you hope to build a career and focus on that.

Other Avenues of Education

Not every future electrician will choose a school to gain their classroom and lab-based technical training requirements. Others may choose one of two professional options.

One option is a union apprenticeship. Union apprenticeships are available through the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees, a collaboration of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association. Interested students can find JATC locations offices in every state and nearly every major metropolitan area.

construction engineers

The JATC places students with union employers. Students work toward their journeyman requirements with the employer while, typically, completing their coursework and labs at the local JATC office. Students who opt for this option must join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Another option is a non-union apprenticeship. Industry professionals call the companies that provide these avenues to journeyman status open shops or merit shops. Choosing a merit shop for your apprenticeship means forgoing some benefits of union membership, including collective bargaining. On the other hand, you will not pay union dues. It is best to do some research to determine which apprenticeship is better for you.

If you choose a non-union apprenticeship, there are two organizations that will help you find a placement, Independent Electrical Contractors and Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. Both have offices in most states and larger cities.

Preparing for the Journeyman Exam

The goal of both classroom work and apprenticeship is to prepare every future electrician for their journeyman exam. The exam often takes more than four hours to complete, comprising a test with hundreds of questions. It can be daunting, even for an apprentice who has completed all work necessary. Thankfully, help is available for those who need it.

Aspiring electricians should start by visiting the official site of the National Fire Protection Association. There you can purchase and download the most up-to-date version of the National Electrical Code, the basis for much of the journeyman exam.

An online search reveals numerous workbooks and preparatory exams. Prices range from $30 to $300 for these products, so do your research before spending too much — or too little. You may opt instead for a preparatory class taught by experienced master electricians. Several popular courses are available. Many take place over five days or 40 hours.

With a little research and a focus on the discipline you want to study, you can find the right electrician school for you. Remember, too, that becoming a master electrician requires dedication and commitment.


The Locksmith School: Basics and Other Practical Information

Maybe you are fresh out of high school and are still trying to decide which career path you want to take. Perhaps you went to a traditional college but decided it wasn't for you. Maybe you've already had an established career and are simply looking for a change. There are many reasons people decide that they want to become a locksmith, but because the industry isn't as widely advertised as some other career paths, it may leave you wondering where to start. This guide will help you learn more about becoming a locksmith, including how to find a locksmith school, what you'll learn, and even how much you'll make and how to start your job search after becoming certified.

Benefits of Becoming a Locksmith



Becoming a locksmith offers several benefits. For many people, the biggest benefit is that they get to help people during stressful and sometimes emergency situations. There are fewer things as stressful as being locked out of your car or home, but a locksmith brings people peace of mind. For others, they like the idea of being the brains behind keying a new security system for someone's home, car, or commercial business. The technology involved in today's locks can be quite a lot of fun for someone who likes solving problems and working with high-end electronics. Additionally, locksmiths work varied hours, which means your schedule may be more flexible than it is in other jobs. If you work for an established business, you may be able to request a certain type of schedule, such as being on call overnight so that you can spend time with your family during the day. If you start your own locksmith company, you can decide when you'll work and when you'll take time off to spend with your friends and family, or you can opt to be on call all the time for people who truly need your services.


Education Required To Become a Locksmith



First and foremost, a locksmith must possess a high school diploma or general education diploma. From there, prospective locksmiths have several options. Many enroll in certificate programs that are available at technical schools or community colleges. Earning a certificate this way involves spending time in the classroom as well as gaining hands-on experience. The other option is to obtain an apprenticeship. During an apprenticeship, a potential locksmith shadows an established one and works under him or her while learning about the industry. However, finding an apprenticeship can be difficult unless you already know someone in the business. Additionally, if you intend to work for an established company, it may require you to receive formal training from a school first.


Continued Education Options


registered locksmith

Although licensing isn't required in all states, 15 do require locksmiths to have licenses. This means passing a comprehensive exam to earn a certification. The exams prove competency in residential, institutional, and commercial locksmithing. Those who become certified can then take on one of several roles:

  • Registered locksmith
  • Certified registered locksmith
  • Certified master locksmith
  • Certified automotive locksmith
  • Certified professional locksmith

Professional development resources are also available to people who become certified. The continuing education programs allow professionals to keep up with evolving trends in locking mechanisms and locksmithing as a profession. Additionally, a locksmithing conference is held each year that features trade show representatives and guest speakers. Some technical and vocational schools also provide ongoing classes.


What To Expect From Your Classes

locksmith training


Most locksmithing classes follow the same curriculum, which begins with an introduction to locksmithing, its tools, and how to identify key blanks. Once you learn the most basic elements of the trade, you'll learn about lock identification, including disc and pin tumbler locks and padlocks. You'll also learn about storefront door locks. This course will teach you about the functions of the knobs and levers, how to remove and replace locks, the basics of latches, strikes and swings, and about deadbolt preparation. You'll take several other classes as well on topics including the following:

  • Lock cylinders, including drilling and shimming
  • Basics of re-keying
  • Impressioning
  • How to handle clients
  • Residential lockouts
  • Commercial lockouts
  • Codes and laws, including fire codes and key duplication
  • Automotive lockouts
  • Assembling and disassembling basic locks
  • Basics of picking locks
  • Enter and exit devices, including panic alarms


Some locksmithing schools take your coursework even further and teach you how to choose a specialization and how to plan and start your own locksmithing business. Before you begin training, discuss the curriculum to ensure you'll be learning everything you want to.


The Cost of Locksmith Training

The amount of money you spend on learning to be a locksmith depends on where you attend school and what the school offers. As you search for courses, you should look for one that offers either live training or training via a DVD, provides basic locksmith tools, offers support at least five days per week, and offers a certification exam at the end of the courses. Schools that offer all four of these features typically cost a few hundred dollars when you take them online and up to $1,000 when you take them in person. Although live classes cost a bit more to cover the use of a physical classroom and paying an instructor, many people find they learn more when they get hands-on training. Some schools may charge more for extra features, but experts recommend starting with a basic course to ensure you enjoy locksmithing before shelling out money for extra training.


Length of Training to Become a Locksmith

The length of training varies depending on how you learn. If you attend a school, expect classes to take several months. The fastest courses take about two months, but many take four or more. Should you decide to go the route of an apprenticeship, expect to learn for up to three years before you know enough to become certified and work alone. The difference in training times is one reason so many people choose to attend a school instead of finding someone to shadow.


Organizations Locksmiths Can Join

Like most professions, locksmiths have a professional organization they can join. The most popular one is the ALOA Security Professionals Association, which was founded in 1955 under the name Associated Locksmiths of America. The trade association is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has more than 6,000 members. Locksmiths who join the ALOA become listed on the website Joining requires a membership fee, proof of certification, and adherence to a technical standards policy, positive ID policy, and code of ethics. The ALOA also offers courses and certification testing for people interested in becoming a locksmith. Ongoing training, seminars and many other benefits are available to members.


Annual Earnings for Locksmiths

The median income for a locksmith in the United States is $40,680 per year, which is about $19.56 per hour. Those who are just starting out will typically only earn between $11.00 and $14.00 per hour while those who are established or specialized in a certain type of lock can make more than $30.00 per hour. Texas, California, Florida, New York, and New Jersey have the most available positions for locksmiths. However, locksmiths earn the most money in Alaska, Washington, D.C., New Hampshire, California, and Connecticut.


Job Outlook for Locksmiths

With new residential and commercial properties going up daily, not to mention the ever-changing technology in traditional keying as well as electronic keypads, the need for certified locksmiths is not expected to dwindle anytime soon. Although growth is average in the United States, other parts of the world, such as Asia, are seeing a much higher demand due to faster construction methods. Still, you won't need to travel to the other side of the world to get a job as a locksmith, especially if you want to start your own company.


How To Find a Job After Graduation


locksmith job

Finding a job as a locksmith is much like finding any other job. If you have a solid network of friends and family, start by asking them if they have any leads. Research has shown that people who get jobs through networking rather than "cold leads" are often happier in their position. If nobody you know has leads, you can turn to other traditional methods of seeking employment. Search online for local job ads or in local forums. If you intend to work for someone else's company, consider calling local locksmith companies to see if they're hiring. If you intend to start your own company, you'll need a business license as well as advertising and your own tools.

Regardless of whether you want to become a locksmith to key new buildings, help people get into their homes or cars after being locked out, or simply because you want the freedom of starting your own business, one thing is for sure: you can't just get up and apply for a locksmithing position. First, you'll need to do the work in school. With a bit of research, finding the right place to earn your certification is much easier. You'll be on your way to a rewarding career in no time.


Plumbing Trade Schools Deliver In-Demand Career Skills

Want a career with good pay that grows with your experience? One where you can learn valuable skills and help others too? How about one that will always be in demand and is practically recession-proof? The answer to all of these questions may be a career in the plumbing industry.

It may not sound exotic, and it’s not for everyone, but it is a field that continues to outpace growth in other markets by more than double the average rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the plumbing industry are predicted to increase at an annual rate of 16 percent through 2026, while the average for all occupations combined is just seven percent. That makes plumbing an excellent career choice, with plenty of potential for hard workers. To get started, consider enrolling in a plumbing school.

Plumbers Work in Many Settings

Plumber At Work In A Bathroom


Many, if not most, people need the help of a plumber at some point, whether it’s for clearing clogged drains, removing a backed-up pipe or installing new appliances. But plumbers also handle a variety of challenging projects that require a good head for math and the ability to think ahead.

As a plumber, you may have a hand in designing a home’s interior pipe system, including where to place tubes to provide gas for an oven. In an industrial setting, you may design delivery systems for pressurized steam. Or you might help ensure clean oxygen is available for hospital patients. Completing a trade-school program can help you compete for, and obtain, a position in one of the most in-demand career fields.

Annual Salary Expectations

 You can expect to earn around $30,000 annually in your early years as a plumber, and as much as $90,000 as a master plumber. The sky’s the limit if you want to go into business for yourself. Otherwise, your salary depends on where you live, what skills and experience you have, and if you wish to specialize in a specific industry. Plumbers who work in manufacturing make an average $8,000 more than those in construction and engineering fields. The median salary for plumbers is about $53,000 annually.

What Does a Plumber Do?

plumbers at work

Plumbers have a variety of skills and duties and often perform work in industrial, residential and commercial buildings. As a plumber, you plan for and maintain the transportation of water, steam, air, wastes and other liquids throughout factories, hospitals, office buildings and homes. You may perform a wide range of tasks, including studying blueprints and planning plumbing systems that meet building codes, as well as creating budgets and meeting deadlines.

During planning stages, plumbers must assure that the plumbing system does not interfere with plans for electrical wires and panels. Once the planning phase is complete, plumbers begin to finish the physical work of installation, beginning with cutting holes in walls, floors, and ceilings for pipes. Holes can also be drilled into joists in the floor in order to accommodate waste and water tubing. Next steps include:

  • Readying pipe materials, including bending, cutting and threading pipes
  • Mount and fit a variety of pipe sizes and install waterlines following blueprints
  • Put in plumbing fixtures such as showers, sinks, and toilets
  • Install water and gas appliances, including dishwashers and water heaters

Once everything is in place, you must conduct testing to ensure a watertight, airtight or gastight fit. That means inspecting systems and materials, including appliances and fixtures, to ensure they meet code standards and everything works correctly.

Work on Existing Systems

When dealing with an existing system, a plumber’s focus shifts to troubleshooting and repair, which can include replacement of parts. As a plumber, you also have the opportunity to help people in distress. You can expect emergency calls at all times of the day, night and on weekends for a variety of problems. Anxious homeowners may be dealing with a burst pipe or backed-up septic system. An industrial plant or factory may be concerned with the same issues, as well as systems that contain dangerous gases or acids. Stressed factory managers must also consider the cost of downtime, so you may be pressed to make quick repairs.

For existing systems, plumbers perform the following functions:

  • Inspect plumbing systems to diagnose the source of problems
  • Develop estimates of repair costs, including labor and parts
  • Troubleshoot issues in pipe systems, appliances or fixtures
  • Replace worn or damaged and broken parts to prevent further problems

As a plumber, you will work with different types of materials in residential systems, such as steel, plastic (PVC) and copper pipes. You may also be called on to install stainless steel systems in factories or dairy farms, where their use ensures liquids are not contaminated.

Benefits of a Trade School

The path to becoming a plumber can start with on-the-job training, called an apprenticeship. However, those who complete a trade-school program have more skills and are in a better position to be hired as an apprentice. Most states require apprentices to have a license as well. Additional advantages of completing coursework are that you may be able to earn a better salary while working as an apprentice and your on-the-job training period should be much shorter.

What You Will Learn

Typical coursework at a plumbing school includes learning the ins and outs of water drainage and supply systems, along with pipe structures and venting, fittings and valves. In addition, you will learn about:

  • Creating and reading blueprints
  • Building and national codes
  • Gas piping systems
  • Backflow principles
  • Cross-connection protection
  • Flammable and toxic materials
  • Workplace hazards and safety
  • Math, chemistry and applied physics

Business fundamentals are a staple of your training as well, including skills such as how to estimate costs, interpreting isometric drawings, project management, accounting, marketing and entrepreneurship. You will also learn management principles that will serve you well if you plan to open your own business in the future. In addition to coursework, you will benefit from a variety of hands-on training, including:

  • Installation and testing of plumbing fixtures
  • Design of pipe systems for drainage, waste and venting
  • How to troubleshoot plumbing
  • Techniques for soldering and brazing
  • How to prepare for a licensing exam

Courses at a plumbing school typically take between six months and one year to complete, while an Associate Degree takes two years and a Bachelor’s Degree takes four years. Another option is entering the plumbing field as an apprentice and completing both coursework and on-the-job training at the same time. If you enroll in a technical or trade school that is partnered with a trade association or union for apprentice training, you may be able to graduate sooner.

If you want to finish coursework before beginning an apprenticeship, check with your local association or union first. Be sure that the coursework and any hands-on training that comes with the classes will count toward your apprenticeship. That will help you advance to becoming a journeyman plumber more quickly. 

Becoming an Apprentice

apprentice plumres

The most significant benefit of working as an apprentice is the opportunity you have to learn from journeyman plumbers with many years of experience working at actual job sites. This training is invaluable, and you should take the initiative to learn by asking plenty of questions.

Typically, your area union or a trade industry association manages apprentice programs, which differ with each group. Some permit you to complete coursework and learn theories online, while others require class attendance. Some apprentice programs partner with trade schools and technical colleges to teach essential theories and courses, while hands-on learning takes place on the job.

A typical apprenticeship takes between four and five years to complete. During this period, you will earn while you learn. You can expect to earn between 30 and 50 percent of what a licensed plumber makes; however, there are several other job benefits including health insurance and a pension. Most apprentice programs require 2,000 hours of on-the-job training, plus an additional 250 hours of classroom instruction.

Earning a License, Certifications



Upon finishing an apprenticeship program, you will have earned “journeyman” status and acquire the skills to handle jobs on your own. After working as a journeyman plumber for several years, you can take an exam to earn “master” status. Having this skill level opens more doors for you, professionally and financially. For a business to qualify for a contractor’s license, some states mandate that the business must have a master plumber on staff.

Plumbers must have a license in most states, and many businesses require it as well. You must have between two and five years of experience on the job as a journeyman plumber before taking the licensing exam, which tests your knowledge of the trade, as well as local plumbing codes. Once you have a license, you can work independently.

Plan on participating in ongoing education and training to earn certification in specialty fields, which adds to your skill base and makes you a more valuable employee. Like mechanics, plumbers can receive in-depth training in specific areas, such as pipe/steam fitting, fire sprinkler fixtures, gas, refrigeration and more. Many employers sponsor the training and testing themselves.

Plumbing Industry Opportunities



A reputable plumbing school can get you started in a career that offers a stable income in a growing field where you will have opportunities for growth and advancement. With increasing demand for eco-friendly business practices, including building construction itself, plumbing trade schools offer exciting new avenues for career development.


Easy Jobs That Pay Well Besides Doing Freelancing Jobs


Many individuals spend most of their lives working at a dead-end job that doesn’t pay much. These positions are often high-stress and low-reward. If you are one of these workers, you may long for better working conditions and higher pay. Your workplace goals don’t have to be pipe dreams. With a bit of effort, you can likely find an easy job that pays well.

That’s where we come in. We have put together a list of 22 jobs that pay high wages for comparatively little effort. In compiling our list, we tried to find jobs that don’t lead to fatigue, burnout or injury. Because what constitutes an easy job varies from worker to worker, we specifically looked for the following:

  • Enjoyable job duties
  • Reduced workloads
  • Low stress
  • Good work schedules
  • Few on-the-job injuries

If you are contemplating a career change, you may not want to spend years enrolled in a higher education program. You may also not have the financial resources to pursue extensive training or special certifications. As such, we have tried to limit our list to mostly jobs that have few educational and training requirements. We did, however, include a couple jobs for those who have earned higher degrees. Read on to see which jobs we think are simple and lucrative.

Top 22 Easy Jobs That Pay a Good Salary

1. Tour Guide

Aspiring actors and history buffs alike love working as tour guides. Whether you are guiding walks through a park, leading tourists a historical adventure or participating in a reenactment, working as a tour guide is fun and easy. Even better, tour guides often accept tips, which can increase your base salary considerably. Likewise, you may be able to work as a tour guide during peak seasons, freeing up the rest of your year for other endeavors.

tourist guide

2. Swimming Instructor

If you like splashing around in the pool, serving as a swimming instructor may be right for you. This job requires some basic certifications but is relatively stress-free. Not only can you impart a lifelong love of swimming in your students, you can use your teaching skills to compete for higher-level training jobs. You may also earn a nice tip at the end of the season.

swimming instructor

3. Remote Customer Service Representative

There are many benefits of working from the comfort of your home. If you choose to become a remote customer service representative, you earn a decent wage for talking on the phone. With this job, you may need to invest in a computer or landline, though.

Remote Customer Service Representative

4. Dog Walker

To most, dogs are members of the family. When busy professionals go to work, they often have anxiety about leaving their pooches unattended. As a dog walker, you walk dogs and ensure their basic needs are met. If you want to earn even more, take some behavior and training classes.

Dog Walker

5. Personal Care Assistant

As seniors age, they often need a bit of extra help around the house. Unlike high-stress nursing jobs, personal care assisting is simple. In fact, your charges may only request house cleaning, cooking or running errands. To succeed in this role, you need a caring, responsible personality. Even better, the flexibility of the job may allow you to attend college or pursue other interests.

Personal Care Assistant

6. Audio Transcriber

If you work as an audio transcriber, you listen to recordings and make transcripts. You may work in law enforcement, the courts or for a private company. In addition to commanding a comparatively high salary, you often get to work from home as an audio transcriber. Good typing and effective listening skills are usually the only prerequisites for this position.

audio transcriber

7. Front Office Receptionist

Interacting with new people is often a way to make time fly. As a front office receptionist, you greet customers and clients who come into offices. You may also track the schedules of the professionals who work inside the organization. If you want to compete for this role, earn an administrative assistant certificate to distinguish yourself from other applicants.

Front Office Receptionist

8. Security Officer

As a security officer, you put your interest in law enforcement to work without joining a police force. These jobs are often simple, as they mostly involve patrolling. If you notice criminal activity, you can usually leave investigation and apprehension to police officers. Being able to work overnight shifts or other flexible hours makes you a standout candidate for security officer positions.

Security Officer

9. Librarian

If you have a degree in library studies, working as a librarian is usually an easy job that pays incredibly well. Those who choose this career path catalog books, assist with research and maintain the library’s collection. Municipal libraries aren’t your only option, however. Many corporations, governmental entities, museums and educational institutions have libraries.


10. Model

With the explosion of ecommerce, many startup sellers need models for their products. Art courses also hire models for students to sketch or paint. If you have the right look, you earn cash by simply being yourself.


11. Software Tester

During beta testing, many software developers need help from real-world testers. As a software tester, you look for software problems and provide input to programmers. You can probably do this job from home or on the go.

Software Tester

12. Parking Lot Attendant

As far as low-pressure jobs go, parking lot attendants have it made. These professionals usually work in a booth collecting parking fees. They may also patrol lots and issue citations. The obvious benefit of this job is being able to leave your work at the jobsite.

Parking Lot Attendant

13. Sales Representative

If you have an outgoing personality, you may appreciate working as a sales representative. After learning the product in-depth, you connect with potential customers. You may set up displays, send marketing messages or interact with customers face-to-face.

Sales Representative

14. Dispatcher

When you work as a dispatcher for a private company, you manage the location of deliveries or pickups. You may work for a taxi service, a warehouse or a medical transportation firm. While most dispatchers work in a communications center, some work from home.


15. College Professor

Working as a professional in a high-stress industry can cause burnout. If you have a terminal degree, you may decide to pursue work as a college professor. With positions in four-year, two-year and trade schools, you choose the perfect climate for your interests.

college prof

16. Landscape Architect

Being cooped up in an office isn’t right for everyone. If you have a passion for gardening, you may love working as a landscaper. In this job, you design outdoor spaces for individuals, companies or governmental entities.

landscape architect

17. Driver

In the modern marketplace, many individuals decide to work for a driving service. If you choose this career path, you have the flexibility to choose when you drive. You also don’t have to worry about keeping regular working hours. While some services provide you with vehicles, you may need a decent car to work as a driver.


18. Remodeling Contractor

Even though some are responsible for large-scale builds, many contractors work exclusively with interior remodels. Remodeling contractors usually have less stress than their full-service counterparts. They also often get to choose the types of projects they want to tackle.

Remodeling Contractor

19. Garbage Collector

While working as a garbage collector seems like a tough job, it usually isn’t. Since these jobs don’t usually appeal to the masses, they are often easy to land. They also pay comparatively well.

Garbage Collector

20. Door Attendant or Concierge

As a door attendant or concierge, you greet individuals who enter buildings or hotels. You may provide directions, schedule appointments and answer general questions. You may also ensure the premises stay safe and secure. If you have an outgoing personality, you can likely excel in this job.


21. Accounting Clerk

You don’t have to be a CPA to put your accounting skills to work. On the contrary, as an accounting clerk, you are responsible for general accounting. This usually includes basic calculations and simple posting. If you can work flexible hours, you may be in high demand at busy corporations or multinational firms.

Accounting Clerk

22. Phlebotomist

Not everyone knows how to handle a needle or draw blood. If you do, you can work as a phlebotomist in a lab or medical facility. With temporary offices popping up in pharmacies virtually everywhere, you may not have much difficulty finding a position that works with your busy schedule.


You don’t have to be stuck in a job that you hate. There are a variety of easy jobs that pay comparatively well. While our list includes 22 of these, it isn’t exhaustive. In industries around the globe, you can likely find a job that piques your interests, offers low stress and pays you a livable wage. Use our list as a starting point for your next job search.


Fifteen States in the U.S. With the Lowest Cost of Living

Life is about more than a constant struggle to pay everyday expenses. As you probably know, the cost of living varies wildly from state to state. If you are considering moving, you may want to relocate to an area where your dollar stretches a bit further.

That’s where we come in. We have compiled a list of the 15 states with the lowest cost of living. In compiling our rankings, we looked at the average cost of the following:

  • Transportation
  • Healthcare
  • Groceries
  • Utilities
  • Housing

As you may suspect, cost of living expenses also vary considerably within states. Major metropolitan areas often cost more than rural ones. Therefore, you should conduct additional research to find out more about any specific areas you are considering. On average, though, the states are on list are more affordable than those that don’t appear. Read on to find out which are the lowest cost of living states.

15 States Where Living Expenses Won’t Bust Your Budget

1. Mississippi


Without a doubt, living in the Magnolia State is an excellent option for anyone looking to save a bit of cash. Mississippi offers the lowest overall expenses of any state in the Union. In fact, if you relocate to this storied southern state, you can expect to spend under $900 on rent. If you would like to buy a house, you can probably find one for about $155,000. That’s more than $30,000 less than the national average. Since property taxes are low in most places in Mississippi, you don’t have to worry about saving a fortune for when yours come due.

Housing isn’t the only affordable expense in Mississippi. On the contrary, healthcare, transportation, grocery and entertainment costs in the Magnolia State are all lower than they are in most other places. With a decent economy and mild winters, Mississippi may be the perfect place for you to put down roots.

2. Tennessee


The home of Music City, Tennessee is also one of the most affordable places for anyone to live. If you are looking for cheap housing, the Volunteer State needs your attention. The median house value in the state is only $120,000, providing an excellent opportunity to acquire an ideal property without breaking the bank.

While grocery, transportation and healthcare expenses are a bit higher than Mississippi, you still get a great value in Tennessee. For example, food in the Volunteer State costs about seven percent less than it does in most other parts of the United States.

3. Indiana


Most houses in Indiana cost about $140,000, which is significantly less than the national average. The Hoosier State also boasts some of the lowest property and other taxes of anywhere in the United States. If you choose to relocate to this midwestern state, housing isn’t the only place you can expect to save some serious dough. Across the state, food, transportation and healthcare costs are low.

Even better, many parts of Indiana are experiencing economic growth. With jobs in manufacturing and other growing sectors, you can likely find a decent job to help your lower living expenses.

4. Kentucky


Like Tennessee to its south, Kentucky offers some of the lowest living expenses of any state in the country. For budgeting purposes, you can expect to pay around 20 percent less for housing in the Bluegrass State. In fact, many homes rent for around $850 per month.

Most areas in Kentucky offer lower healthcare and food prices than other parts of the United States. This remains true for metropolitan areas and rural ones alike. As such, if you want to live in a city, Louisville may be an affordable option.

5. Alabama


Alabama is another southern state where living expenses are cheap. If you move to the Heart of Dixie, you can likely find a house to buy for around $160,000. While this is considerably less than the national average, you can save even more by purchasing real estate in a gentrifying area. For example, some decent houses in Mobile sell for $50,000 to $60,000 less than in other parts of the state.

As with other southerners, Alabamians spend less for healthcare, transportation and food. With factories, agricultural operations, recreational outfitters and other economy-boosting businesses, the Yellowhammer State has something for every professional. Likewise, Alabama’s mild climate is a draw for retirees.

6. Arkansas


Even though the real estate market in Arkansas is hot, you can plan to pay around $145,000 for a house. If you prefer to lease your dwelling, you can find a bargain in the Natural State. With most single-family homes going for around $850 per month, you save more of your hard-earned wages by relocating to Arkansas.

Home to Walmart’s headquarters, Arkansas offers some of the lowest food expenses anywhere in the United States. Likewise, healthcare and transportation costs are comparatively low in the Land of Opportunity.

7. Oklahoma


South meets west in Oklahoma, where you can probably buy a house for about $150,000. If you prefer to rent, you will likely pay more in the Sooner State. In fact, most renters pay about $950 for a single-family home in Oklahoma. Still, rent prices are a bargain when compared to the national average.

With affordable utilities, groceries and transportation, Oklahoma provides an ideal economic climate for anyone who wants to stick to a savings plan. While you may think of the Sooner State as a rural place, it has several cities that offer a variety of employment opportunities.

8. Kansas


Homes are a steal in the Sunflower State. If you relocate to Kansas, you can likely snatch up a property for under $145,000. This is more than $40,000 less than the national average. Housing expenses aren’t only what make Kansas affordable, though. Transportation costs and utilities are lower than in most other parts of the country.

Kansas also offers low property taxes. Accordingly, you may be able to buy a more expensive home in the Sunflower State than you could elsewhere.

9. Nebraska


For decades, Warren Buffet has called Nebraska home. The Oracle of Omaha likely knows something about the Cornhusker State that you don’t. That is, housing in this part of the country is more affordable than it is practically anywhere else. If you want to rent a home in Nebraska, you can expect to pay around $900 per month.

Nebraskans live the good life in their state. With low food and fuel costs, citizens of the Cornhusker State have more disposable income. When they do go out to eat, Nebraska residents spend less than individuals who live essentially anywhere else.

10. Georgia


Housing costs in the Peach State are a whopping 24 percent less than the national average. As such, if you relocate to Georgia, you have more to spend on other expenses. While groceries cost roughly the same as they do in most other parts of the United States, transportation costs are significantly lower. Healthcare costs, however, are a bit higher in Georgia than they are in the other states on our list.

11. Missouri


Most houses in Missouri listed for about $150,000. This is considerably less than median house prices in more expensive states. Your mortgage isn’t the only place you can plan to save money if you relocate to the Show-Me State, though. Groceries cost about 3 percent less in Missouri than they do in other parts of the country. Transportation and utility expenses are also lower.

12. Idaho


Soaring peaks and fertile farmland make Idaho a beautiful state. The Gem State also appeals to anyone who wants a lower cost of living. In most parts of the state, housing costs 75 percent less than it does in the rest of the United States. Groceries are also downright cheap in Idaho, costing about 85 percent of the national average.

13. Michigan


While it has lost some residents in recent years, Michigan is an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to spend less on living expenses. Houses in the Wolverine State sell for about 75 percent of what they would in other parts of the United States.

14. Iowa


With farms, cities and natural areas, Iowa is a lovely place. It is also an affordable one. Housing costs in the Hawkeye State are roughly 80 percent of the national average. Food prices, healthcare costs and utilities are also significantly less in Iowa.

15. Texas


Everything is bigger in Texas except living expenses. With housing costing roughly 15 percent less in most parts of the Lone Star State than it does in the rest of the country, you can spend money on other things after moving to Texas. Food and healthcare costs are also cheaper in the Lone Star State.

If you are tired of struggling to make ends meet, you may want to move where your dollar goes further. The 15 states on our list offer the cheapest housing, transportation, healthcare and utility costs of any states in the country. Rather than spending a fortune on everyday expenses, use our list to see which parts of the country offer more for less.



The Ins and Outs of Diesel Mechanic School

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a diesel mechanic was just over $46,000 in 2016, and the field is expected to grow around 9 percent by the year 2026. In the past, a person might have learned the diesel mechanic trade on the job after high school. In the current market, more employers are looking for people who have completed a postsecondary training program that results in either a degree or certification. Going to diesel mechanic school and starting a new career can feel like a big commitment, but the reward of an in-demand job that pays well can make the extra time in school worthwhile. Before making such a decision, it is good to find out more about what diesel mechanics do, how to become one and what sorts of jobs you could get with a diploma or certification.

What Do Diesel Mechanics Do?


First and foremost, they make small and large repairs to diesel engines. They can also work on a vehicle’s exhaust or electrical systems. A good mechanic knows how an engine works, but he or she must also be able to work with the computers that are either inside or related to modern engines. More and more engine parts and systems have computerized aspects to them, so learning the technical skills required for working with computers is more important than ever.

While most diesel mechanics work on all types of large vehicles, some might specialize in a particular kind of vehicle or equipment, like those used in farming or even on smaller engines, such as those on boats or motorcycles. The basic knowledge about how these engines work is similar though, so any training or school courses on diesel engines is likely to apply to whatever diesel engine work you end up doing in the future.

What Skills Do You Need?

In addition to the technical skills needed to work on engines, a mechanic also uses many other abilities in his or her day-to-day work. Good customer service skills are essential in order to help determine where to start on a problem and to communicate to the customer the work that needs to be done.

A mechanic also needs to be able to plan his or her workday effectively and be able to decide when to prioritize and switch tasks in order to be as efficient as possible. Because you generally have several vehicles in a shop at any given time, it is a good idea to follow checklists and to document your work well, so it is easy for anyone to see where in the process a particular task is.

Mechanics dealing with large engines also generally use larger and more complex tools, which can be heavy and require a good deal of technical knowledge to operate, in addition to physical strength.

How Do You Become a Diesel Mechanic?

Education and Training

Before beginning a training program or school curriculum, you generally need a high school diploma or its equivalency. Then, while you may be able to find a shop that is willing to train you on the job without any previous experience, most employers want to see a degree or certificate from a program specializing in diesel engine repair. These programs are available through vocational or trade schools, as well as many community colleges. In addition to more traditional classroom work, most programs offer lots of hands-on opportunities to work on engines as part of the regular coursework.

The length of time it takes to complete a program depends on the program itself and the pace at which you work to finish it. Some people are able to go full-time, in which case they may complete their program within as little as six months to as long as nineteen months, while others can only go part-time or choose a more intensive training program, which could take much longer.

Most areas will have several options to complete your training, so it is usually possible to find a program that can fit your needs. Going to a traditional community college will often result in an associate’s degree, which will include some general education credits that can later be applied to a bachelor’s degree if you wanted to continue your education later. Vocational schools and technical schools will usually only include the classes that are directly related to the field you are studying, which can be a better option if you are looking to enter the workforce in your new field as soon as possible.

Schools will vary in cost both by the area of the country they are in and the exact services they are providing, but most programs qualify for some type of federal financial aid or loans. Every school or program will have an office of financial assistance that can help you fill out the paperwork required to be eligible for such aid. Eligibility is generally tied to your current and past income, whether you can be considered a dependent and what other financial obligations you may already have.

Licenses and Certifications


After you receive a degree or certificate, you may need to get certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). In order to obtain the certification, you need to choose specific repair areas, show two years of work experience and pass ASE examinations in the areas of specialization you have chosen. Additionally, every five years, you need to take a recertification exam in order to maintain your certification.

Also, since diesel mechanics often test drive vehicles they are working on, you may be required to obtain a commercial driver’s license in order to get behind the wheel of semi-trucks, buses and other large vehicles. You can find the requirements for a commercial driver’s license through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles office.

What Do You Learn in Class?

Engine and Mechanical Systems

Your coursework in diesel mechanic school will cover a range of topics from actual engine repair to technical math and human relations. Most programs will start with a course that gives an overview of the program you are beginning and helps you prepare for the commitment you are undertaking, as well as the benefits and job outlook for when you complete the program.

The next set of courses generally covers the basics of engine repair and may include the opportunity to completely take apart and reassemble an engine as part of the coursework. Once you have gained basic familiarity with engines overall, you learn about specific engine systems, such as the drive train, the fuel system, steering and suspension, both air and hydraulic brake systems, the electrical systems and heating and cooling systems.

Other Skills


Some programs of study will stop after learning about diesel engines and their related systems, but others will go further, including coursework on other aspects of being a mechanic. Courses may cover issues like the standard procedures and protocols used in service shops, how to complete repair orders, learning about electronic retrieval systems and even preparing your resume.

Other topics may include human relations issues, such as how to supervise people and personnel psychology. You can also take courses in technical math, which emphasizes unit conversions and basic elements of geometry and trigonometry, such as the properties of triangles, metric measurements and beginning statistics. Computer literacy is also covered and includes information on computer networks, internet security, maintaining electronic records, spreadsheets and even presentation software.

What Is the Job Outlook?

car mechanical

In an increasingly global economy, freight shipments move from one area of the country to another, which also means that more diesel engine trucks are on the road. The average projected growth rate for jobs in the next eight years is 7%, while the expected rate of growth for diesel mechanics is 9%. Additionally, because technical knowledge and training is required to enter the field, those that are already trained and certified have good job security within the industry.

The median pay for diesel mechanics is also a few thousand dollars more per year than regular engine mechanics, which can add up to a lot over an entire career. Some diesel mechanics who work for truck dealers and their repair shops may also be eligible to receive commissions on top of their base salary, which gives them even more earning potential.

What Comes Next?

whats next

The diesel mechanic trade is growing and in need of skilled technicians to work on every aspect of diesel engine repair and maintenance. Job opportunities include mechanics who work on engines of multiple sizes in a variety of settings, opportunities in shop management, as well as others. To get started in this well-paying career, you need to acquire the skills that employers are looking for, including hands-on experience building and repairing diesel engines. Learning on the job may give you some experience, but attending a diesel mechanic school or training program can give you a well-rounded set of experiences to better prepare you to get your ASE certification and land the job you have been looking for.


15 Neat Ways to Make Money To Survive College Life

15 Neat Ways to Make Money in College

Going to college can have its challenges, especially when it comes to money. Your first priority going to school has been to study and pass your exams, but along the way, you need to pay the rent, eat decent meals, and occasionally go out at night with your friends. This can drain your pocketbook. Additionally, you may still have tuition to worry about. Finding creative ways to earn money in between busy class schedules can become an additional concern. We know 15 interesting and effective ways to make money in college that may help you earn a few extra dollars.

1. Get Paid to Exercise

a dollar bill handed

Getting paid to exercise seems almost too good to be true. Not only are you engaging in something that benefits you personally, but you can also get financially compensated for it.

If you have ever used FitBit or RunKeeper to track your fitness level, you can take it further with a site called Achievement. It will pay you through direct deposit or PayPal when you monitor your steps. You can even earn money by logging your meals, meditating, and sleeping.

When you connect with any health apps from their list, Achievement will reward you with points for your participation. Then you can simply redeem your points for cash

2. Become a Rideshare Driver

rideshare driver

If you don’t mind acting like a taxi driver, you may as well get paid doing it. Companies such as Uber and Lyft can employ you as a driver to give rides to individuals as well as groups of people. Although you get paid by these companies, you get to work as an independent contractor and can choose your own hours and the location you want to work. You must be at least 21 years old, have a 4-door vehicle, and have driving experience for a minimum of 3 years.

3. Sell Stock Photos

pineapple photo

Taking pictures can benefit you more than simply having the satisfaction of documenting a memory. You can sell your photos on sites such as Depositphotos, iStockPhoto, and Shutterstock. When you contribute your portfolio to these companies, you get paid royalties each time someone buys one of your images.

You can take photos of people, backgrounds, animals, food, business-related items, places, technology, architecture, nature, and sports. There are many categories to satisfy your creativity.

These stock photo sites are not only interested in still photographs, but they are also interested in buying videos, illustrations, and digital art. They either pay a percentage or a flat fee for your work.

4. Act as a Film Extra

film extras

Film studios are always looking for people to be in the background of their movie scenes. If you live near a studio, take advantage of the opportunity to walk around the movie set or stand for a few hours and earn a couple hundred easy bucks.

Once you work with a studio, you can get on their regular list where they will call you whenever extras are needed. To get started, you can look into Backstage Extras Casting, Central Casting, or other movie casting sites.

5. Help People With Resumes

fist bump

If you have expertise in writing and know a thing or two about composing a resume, you could help other college students with their documents. For a fee, you can assist people in creating a resume that will increase their chances greatly of landing a job.

Resume formatting is constantly changing with the times. If you decide to give this money-making opportunity a try, study up on the latest layouts. Check into infographic resumes and how they can supplement the traditional documents.

6. Restaurant Delivery

service crew boy

Delivering food is a hot business around college campuses. Get in on the deal by earning money delivering meals from local restaurants. You can also find opportunities on sites such as UberEats or DoorDash.

7. Pet Care

cuddling kitten

If you are an animal lover, you could earn money looking after other people’s pets. When people go on vacation, they need a caretaker for their furry pals. Even fish need someone to sprinkle food in their bowl every day.

Additionally, your college friends who own dogs may need someone to watch their loyal companions while they study for a test at the library. Look for opportunities from your fellow animal-loving friends.

8. Buy and Sell Textbooks

textbooks and throw pillows

You can earn more money by selling your used textbooks directly to sites such as BookScouter, Decluttr, Amazon, and rather than college bookstores. Empty that box of books sitting in your storage closet and fill your pockets with some extra cash.

Different sites will vary in the amounts they pay out, but you can compare the prices and get the most for your books. By researching the market, you can even buy popular used textbooks to resell at a higher rate as the demand rises. Try checking yard sales for some used textbooks.

9. Freelance Writer


Earning money from writing can be a great source of income. You don’t even have to be a journalist or professional freelance writer. There are so many opportunities on the web where you can earn money for writing content for blogs and websites.

Tighten up your writing skills by studying the style guides and style books available. There is a style guide in most dictionaries that can help you freshen up on your grammar skills. Remember to proofread your work before submitting it for pay. Above all, use your own material and don’t copy anyone else’s.

Rely on your own knowledge about the topics you are familiar with and research the issues you don’t know as well. Give accurate and original information, with a flare of your own personality.

10. Blog


If you are skilled in a particular subject, you may want to consider blogging. Starting a blog can help you earn money through affiliate marketing. This type of earning is especially great, since it is passive income, meaning you get paid with minimal effort. By placing affiliate links of products, such as those associated with Amazon, on your blog, you can earn a commission when guests click on the link and purchase the product. Basically, you get paid for recommending purchases to your buying guests.  

11. Get Paid to Study

study group

There are several jobs available where you can actually get paid to study. Schools have jobs positions that include working as a clerical assistant, a library worker, and a computer lab assistant. These jobs are so low-key that you can spend the downtime studying.  

12. Work on Campus

student aide

Since you are already spending time on campus, you may as well take advantage of the money-earning opportunities that are available immediately around you. These jobs are especially convenient if you do not have access to a car or other form of transportation, but live near campus.

Gift shop


Work as a cashier at a gift shop. You may even get some time to study in between customers, especially during slow times.



If you enjoy working with food, you might appreciate working in the cafeteria. Some food venues may even offer you free meals if you work a certain number of hours.



When visitors come to tour the campus, guides are needed. If you enjoy working with and directing people, you can earn some money by sharing what you know about the school you are attending.

13. Do Transcriptions

post its

For the speedy typists who can listen well, transcription work can bring in some good cash. People and businesses of all varieties are looking for someone to transcribe their audios into text. is one site that offers courses in learning how to effectively transcribe. You may find yourself typing videos, podcasts, speeches, interviews, workshops, lectures, and dictations.

14. Become a Translator

book duck

Speaking another language can provide a way for you to make money. With, you can sign up to become a translator. The work can vary, depending on whether you prefer the speaking or the writing translation work. Languages to translate cover everything from Portuguese, Turkish, and Russian to German, Italian, and French.

15. Do Voice-Overs

audio equipment

If you have a pleasant voice and are comfortable performing, you may consider doing voice-over work. You may have to invest in a microphone system to record your work at home. Sell your recordings to businesses and individuals who need voice-overs for podcasts or videos. You may even want to audition for professional voice-over opportunities. You could make a decent amount of money doing a commercial or recording for an audiobook.

A Final Note

Having some extra cash can help you pay your bills and attend fun social events to help ease the pressures of going to school. Whatever way you decide to earn money, make sure you choose something you enjoy.

Select jobs or money-making opportunities that match the things you like to do. If you’re not sure if you will like a certain position, you may have to try it out and see how it works for you.

Finally, be kind to yourself. Avoid overbooking yourself, so you don’t burn out. Making extra cash should help to lighten your pressures, not add to them. Just remember to balance your spare time and maximize your earnings by taking advantage of the highest paying jobs for the least amount of effort.


How Does Financial Aid Work? Navigating The Maze

Navigating The Financial Maze

Whether you are soon to be high school graduate ready for college, or a seasoned professional looking at a graduate degree or certificate to boost career goals, everyone has similar questions: How can I pay for college? How does financial aid work? Few students, working or not, can afford to pay cash for classes, fees, books and living expenses. The solution for this lack of money is a concept known as financial aid, which is a combination of loans, grants, scholarships, work assistance and any number of other programs. When added together, students can take the classes they need and finance their education. It all boils down to alternate sources of funds to assist you in paying for school.

FAFSA Application

fafsa poster

Financial aid begins when you file your FAFSA application. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA application must be submitted well in advance of starting classes for possible financial aid amounts to be determined. For example, students that plan to begin classes in September for the fall semester would need to have completed and submitted the application earlier in the year, preferably by February. The financial information can be submitted on a rolling basis throughout the year. However, earlier applications may be eligible for more money because there is more available to distribute. Also, this extra time allows applicants to apply for a wider array of loans or grants that they qualify for. Unless you are on a substantial athletic or academic scholarship, this is the most common source of funds for students in need of assistance.

What You Will Need to Apply

You will need to gather quite a bit of financial information in advance to complete a FAFSA. The following summary applies to both independent and dependent students. Dependent students are classified as those students wholly reliant on their parents or guardian(s) for their support and will need the information required on the FAFSA for their parents or guardians as well as themselves. If you are not sure whether you are a dependent or independent student, the FAFSA has a checklist to make that determination.

Certain information must be provided to the government to complete a FAFSA application:

  1. Social Security number or Alien Registration Number, if not a U.S. citizen
  2. W-2s and income tax returns
  3. Bank statements
  4. Investment records and untaxed income records
  5. A Federal Student Aid identification number to sign electronic documents

Once applicants have completed the FAFSA, the government shares this information with all of the schools that the applicant has applied and designated on the FAFSA. The individual school's Financial Aid office will determine how much financial aid the applicant is eligible to receive.

This determination takes into account the Cost of Attendance, also known as COA and includes books, tuition and fees, and the amount of family contribution.  The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) considers student and parent income, assets, family size and other family members attending school at the same time. The law establishes the formula for determining EFC, which is not how much money your family will or must pay. It is an estimate of potential contribution from the individual or family.

Determining Financial Aid

Each school will then determine the number of financial aid applicants can receive based on subtracting the known Cost of Attendance from the Expected Family Contribution. This difference is defined as financial need and is the amount of need-based assistance you are eligible to receive. As an example, if the COA for a particular school is $20,000 and you have an EFC of $15,000, you qualify for $5000 in need-based aid. Need-based aid comes from a variety of federal financial aid programs.

Need-Based Financial Aid Programs

Federal aid programs

There are four primary federal need-based financial aid programs:

Pell Grant 

Typically gets awarded to undergraduates or a graduate in a teacher certification program. Student eligibility depends upon the cost of attendance, financial need, and whether the student’s attendance status is full or part-time. Pell Grants do not require repayment from the student. They are primarily a gift.

Direct Subsidized Loan

Also known as a Stafford Loan, is a loan subsidized by the federal government for students with financial need. The interest on the loan will be paid by the federal government only if the student enrolls for at least half-time and pursues a degree. This benefit extends for six months after leaving school. The Stafford loans may have better interest rates. These loans require repayment after the six month grace period is complete according to the loan terms signed at the time of issuance by the student.

Perkins Loan

I​​​​s only for students with exceptional financial need. It has low fixed interest rate and is available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Students should check with their individual school’s office of financial assistance since not all schools participate in the Perkins Loan program. The school lends the students the money, and the student makes payments back to the loan service provider or to the school itself. The availability of funds at the school and students' financial need determines the amount of funds available to the student need.

Federal Work Study

The program ensures part-time employment to undergraduate, graduate and professional students in need while enrolled in a school that allows them to earn money to help pay educational expenses. The program guidelines encourage work related to the student’s course of study or community service work. As with the Perkins Loans, not all schools participate in the program and students should check on participation with the financial aid office.

Non-Need-Based Programs

non based programs

While these loans and grants account for the majority of need-based financial aid, there are other options if a student still requires additional money. These sources are classified as non-need-based, and the amount available varies, calculated by subtracting the total financial aid already awarded to a student from the cost of attendance. This amount includes any private scholarships or school sources the student may have already received.  In the earlier example, that student was eligible for $5000 in need-based aid. The $5000 is subtracted from the $20000 cost of attendance leaving $15000 in non-need-based assistance available. It does not take into consideration the estimated family contribution, only how much aid the student has gotten to this point.

There are several sources of non-need-based aid:

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Requires the student to pay the interest on the loan during all periods or defer interest payments until leaving school, in which case the interest will be added to the principal when payments begin. Delaying payment results in higher payments than the need-based subsidized loan. The advantage of the Direct Unsubsidized Loan is that it does not require the student to demonstrate need and is available to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Federal PLUS Loan

Allows graduate or professional students, as well as parents of undergraduates, a chance to borrow money from the US Department of Education to pay for college or career school. A significant restriction here is that the student or parent must not have an adverse credit history. A low credit score due to bankruptcy, excessive debt or failure to pay debts could disallow access to this type of loan. The total loan amount is the cost of school attendance minus any financial aid already received.


Also known as The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, provides help paying for college if the student intends to become a teacher in a high-need field in a low-income area. The grant will require the student to take certain types of classes in specific degree fields to receive the grant. Students then must teach in designated areas for a specified amount of time following graduation, or the grant will convert to a repayable loan. This repayment will include interest charged from the date the student received funds through the TEACH Grant. This type of financial aid requires specific commitment and consideration before acceptance.

Final Considerations

graduation day

After all of these programs are completed, students will hopefully have enough money to take the classes and earn the degrees that they want. Financial aid is no longer a mystery, and the question of “How does financial aid work?” has been answered. Once all of these programs are exhausted, if students find that they do not have the funds, a final option to consider may be a personal bank loan.

College degrees can open up many careers and opportunities not available to those without degrees. However, embarking on a college degree is a huge financial and emotional undertaking, as well as the time needed to complete classes. Persistence and determination are key factors for success. Those considering college degrees should assess their willingness to take on the financial burden and the immense time requirements necessary to finish. Many people feel a personal sense of accomplishment when done, and they will then have credentials to apply to a wide variety of career fields.