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3 Jobs to Get Without a College Degree That Offer High Job Growth Projections


If you are unemployed or under-employed and follow the employment news on the Internet, television or in the print media, it’s easy to become depressed or feel like there are not enough job opportunities to go around.

If you don’t have a college degree, it may seem like the odds are really stacked against you in the job search, but the facts are there are still good jobs available.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is projecting high job growth prospects for the next 10 years for reinforcing iron- rebar workers, glaziers, and brickmasons, blockmasons and stone masons. The BLS considers occupations with a projected job growth rate of 14% to be showing average growth; these careers are predicted to experience between 40% to 49% growth in available jobs in the next decade.

Here’s what you need to know:

 3 Jobs to Get Without a College Degree That Offer High Job Growth Projections

1. Reinforcing Iron – Rebar Workers

Reinforcing iron and rebar workers, who are sometimes referred to by the nickname rodbusters, are responsible for installing rebar (steel bars), cables or wire mesh into concrete to reinforce it. Rebar is commonly used to strengthen concrete in bridges, roads, and structures.

These workers may be involved in building new roads, bridges or buildings or in repairing or renovating existing ones, and usually learn skills in the areas of reinforcing iron, rebar work, and structural ironwork.

In addition to needing physical stamina and strength to carry the heavy steel bars, they need to be able to bend over, pick up the rebar, and stand for long periods. Good manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination are a must.

Educational Requirements

Most rodbusters have either a high school diploma or the equivalent and enter the field via an apprenticeship program. They work under the supervision of trained employees and learn the trade by on-the-job training. An apprenticeship program typically lasts between three to four years. In addition to completing the apprenticeship, reinforcing iron and rebar workers must acquire a specified amount of hours of technical training and a specified amount of hours of on-the-job, paid training.

Job Outlook and Earnings Potential

The BLS projects a 49% job growth potential in this occupation over the next decade, and the 2010 median wage was $38,430.

2. Glaziers

Glaziers deal with all facets of glass handling: cutting, handling, installing, selecting, removing or replacing glass in areas such as:

  • Display cases
  • Stores
  • Skylights
  • Windows, doors, or bathroom enclosures in residential or commercial buildings

While glaziers may work with other substances such as glass substitutes, window films or laminates, their primary area of focus is glass. However, they do not repair or replace glass in vehicles.

Educational Requirements

Most glazier have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and gain entry into the field through an apprenticeship training, which typically lasts between three to four years. Upon completing their apprenticeship, they become journey workers who work unsupervised by others. Of the fifty US states, only one – Connecticut – has a licensing requirement for glaziers. Those who chose to do so can become certified in the trade by the National Glass Association.


Because this is a trade that involves lifting and moving heavy objects, physical strength, manual dexterity, and exceptional hand-eye coordination are all important skills to possess.

Job Outlook and Earnings Potential

This occupation has a predicted job growth rate of 42% and the 2010 median wage was $36,640. One reason for the expected industry growth is the increased energy efficiency of glass windows, which makes these windows an attractive sustainable option as the building industry grows increasingly green. Additionally, there is a trend toward glass exteriors for new commercial construction.

3. Brick Masons, Block Masons, and Stone Masons

Fences, buildings, walkways or walls made of stone, blocks or bricks owe their existence to masons. Brickmasons and blockmasons may also be referred to as bricklayers. They may build new structures or repair existing ones, and their work may be either decorative or functional depending on the job for which they are hired.

 3 Jobs to Get Without a College Degree That Offer High Job Growth Projections

Masons work from blueprints and cut or break the specified materials into the correct size, and then lay out those materials according to the blueprint specifications. They use mortar or grout to secure the building materials. The excess mortar is removed with trowels and then they clean or buff the finished surfaces. They may also perform other tasks depending on the specific job assignment.

The same skills used by brick and block masons are used by stone masons. Because stones are irregular, some would say that a little more artistic skill is required in the selection and placement of the stones; consequently, stone masons frequently command a slightly higher pay than brick or block masons do.

Educational Requirements

Individuals may enter this trade by completing training programs at technical colleges or by completing a formal apprenticeship program, and they need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. If they opt for the training program route, most programs last one or two years, while an apprenticeship program may last for three or four years depending on the program.

According to the BLS, for each year that an individual is enrolled in an apprentice program, he or she must also complete “at least 144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training.”

Job Outlook and Earnings Potential

Job growth projections for brickmasons, stone masons, and blockmasons are 40% over the next 10 years, and the 2010 median salary was $45,410.

Choosing a career path or transitioning to an new job or industry can be challenging, and it’s important to make the best choices to suit your qualifications, skills and interests. The best way to make an informed decision is to gather as much data as you can about the occupations that interest you the most. Compare the pros and cons and then make your decision.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Brickmasons, Blockmasons, and Stonemasons,
on the Internet at (visited April 17, 2013)

Image “brick wall” by Stratsan under royalty free license via SXC

Image of construction workers by sylvar under CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr

 3 Jobs to Get Without a College Degree That Offer High Job Growth Projections
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.

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