President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan will create a number of relatively high-paying jobs for workers in construction, alternative energy, education and healthcare.
While the best-paying jobs in those fields typically require at least a four-year degree, you can move into some well-paying stimulus-related jobs after spending half that time in college or training, according to Laurence Shatkin, author of Great Jobs in the President’s Stimulus Plan.
Here are Shatkin’s favorite, relatively well-paying stimulus-boosted jobs you can get with no more than a four-year degree:
“There are any number of buildings that need to be weatherized, and that employment will be there for a long time,” Shatkin says. “In this job, you install insulation either with equipment or by hand.” You need only a GED to do this work, and the pay is about $31,000 a year. Don’t apply if you’re claustrophobic because the work sometimes takes place in confined spaces.
Stimulus spending on road construction, upgrading telecommunication lines and infrastructure repairs will boost jobs for construction managers, welders, pavers and iron workers. The line workers who extend broadband access to rural areas earn about $47,000 a year.
Rail Track Layers
Some stimulus funding targets the repair and expansion of the rail network. While there’s plenty of long-term money in this field, you may work far from home as you follow the tracks. Average salary is $42,000 a year.
Several stimulus spending areas are creating work for electricians. They’re needed to repair highways, modernize schools and connect new solar power equipment. “If you specialize in solar power, you can get in on the ground floor and be one of the industry’s pioneers,” Shatkin says. While you can train to be an electrician at community colleges and trade schools, Shatkin recommends union apprenticeships, where you earn while you learn the craft. Average salary for electricians: $45,000.
If you like math and are willing to attend four years of college, civil engineering can be a great career path. The civil engineers who will make sure the stimulus-funded construction projects are built correctly earn an average of about $72,000.
Manufacturing may be on life support, but the stimulus will boost companies that support alternative energy. For example, steel wind turbines are too heavy to ship from overseas, so they’re manufactured as close as possible to where they go up, Shatkin says. “That will create jobs for structural steel workers and welders,” he says. “There’s also a big demand for computer-controlled machine tool operators, who earn about $32,000 a year.” Jobs will also open up for mechanical engineering technicians, who help design mechanical parts and devices and earn $47,000 with an associate’s degree.
Any industry that gets stimulus funding is going to need industrial engineers to help spend that money wisely. “They’re efficiency experts who apply the scientific method to optimize energy or work flow, and they earn $71,000 with a bachelor’s degree,” Shatkin says.
Classroom teachers get great pensions and time off every summer. If you already have a four-year degree, you may be able to gain certification in just over a year by going to school full-time. Some areas allow teachers to start with a bachelor’s in another field while they seek certification, Shatkin says. Preschool, one of the areas the stimulus targets for expansion, pays the least, averaging only $23,000. However, secondary-school teachers average $49,000.
Don’t like kids? Try teaching literacy, English as a second language or a GED class to adults. “There’s a lot of growth in this field because of immigration and the need for more basic skills as the economy becomes more technical,” Shatkin says. Average pay for adult educators is $45,000.
Physical or Respiratory Therapy Assistant
Armed with an associate’s degree, you’ll earn an average of $44,000 a year as a physical therapy assistant helping develop physical therapy plans, setting up equipment and assisting a physical therapist. Respiratory therapist assistants, who average $40,000 a year, help respiratory therapists treat breathing problems of patients in hospitals, specialty practices and nursing homes.
Medical Records Experts
The shift from printed to electronic medical records will create jobs for health information technicians who earn about $29,000 a year with an associate’s degree as well as systems analysts who make $70,000 a year with a four-year degree.
As the health, education, construction and alternative-energy fields grow from stimulus spending, they’ll need more managers to handle back-office functions such as accounting (average salary $57,000), as well as general managers and operations managers (average $89,000). To break into either field, you’ll need a four-year degree.