North Carolina is growing -- and at a rate much faster than the U.S. population overall, according to U.S. Census Bureau population projections. Between 2010 and mid-2013, the Census Bureau's estimates show a 3.3 percent increase in the number of residents in the state that was "First in Flight." By comparison, the entire country's population grew at 2.4 percent. North Carolina's largest city, Charlotte, grew at a rate of 7.8 percent between 2010 and 2013, by which time its population was estimated at 792,862. Natalie Dick, the vice president of communications and research at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, attributes the influx of new residents to the quality of life, climate, cost of living and opportunity. John Aldrich, a Pfizer-Pratt University professor of political science says that young, technologically-oriented researchers and minorities are flocking to North Carolina, and that one reason is that they are attracted by the state's desirable university system.
The state is not only growing in population, the economy is also "taking flight."
How vocational schools in North Carolina fit the job growth picture
An increase in population brings the need for more workers in all types of occupations, and vocational schools in N.C. may provide a faster education track to employment than completing a four-year college degree program. The industry sectors that have produced the greatest percentage of job growth in North Carolina over the the 12-month period from July 2013 through June 2014 were adding jobs at a steady pace:
- Professional and business services: 5.8 percent
- Information: 3.6 percent
- Construction: 2.8 percent
- Trade, transportation and utilities: 2.6 percent
Across the state, the median wage was $15.46 per hour according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) data from May 2013. The following "hot jobs" from North Carolina's Department of Commerce, Labor & Analysis website pay a better-than-median wage and training typically takes less time than earning a college degree:
- First-line supervisors of fire fighting and prevention workers: $19.75/hr.
- Aircraft mechanics and service technicians: $18.21/hr.
- First-line supervisors of production and operating workers: $17.30/hr.
- Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses: $16.00/hr.
- Surgical technologists: $15.76/hr.
The median annual entry-level wage for commercial pilots, who require postsecondary training but not a college degree, is $32,480. While aviation is a significant industry in North Carolina, and employment growth for pilots is expected to grow at a rate of 18.3 percent through the end of this decade, job openings each year average only 30 according to the state's Department of Commerce employment projections.
Vocational occupations with the most openings
With brisk employment growth, however, there are plenty of jobs that will have many openings between now and the end of the decade. Vocational schools in NC offer training from A to almost Z -- accounting through travel. Schools with campuses in the state -- and some out-of-state schools with online programs available to North Carolina residents -- provide postsecondary training and associate degrees for some of the following occupations, all of which are projected to have plenty of annual job openings through 2020:
- Registered nurses: 3,410 openings
- Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants: 1,110 openings
- Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses: 1,050 openings
- Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists: 640 openings
- Firefighters: 560 openings
- Preschool teachers, except special education: 560 openings
- Emergency medical technicians and paramedics: 550 openings
- Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers: 480 openings
- Paralegals and legal assistants: 440 openings
Jobs in North Carolina that require only an associate degree from a community college, technical or vocational school pay comparatively well, as you can see from these median hourly wages in May 2013 from BLS.gov:
- Construction managers: $40.82/hr.
- Dental hygienists: $32.22/hr.
- Diagnostic medical sonographers: $30.49/hr.
- Registered nurses: $28.12/hr.
- Paralegal and legal assistants: $18.95/hr.
With the economy picking up speed and poised to take off in North Carolina, it's time to train for a good job and make the most of it.
Hot Jobs Statewide: Postsecondary Training, NC Department of Commerce, Labor & Economic Analysis, http://www.nccommerce.com/lead/data-tools/statewide-information/hot-jobs/postsecondary-training
Hot Jobs Statewide: Associate Degree, NC Department of Commerce, Labor & Economic Analysis, http://www.nccommerce.com/lead/data-tools/statewide-information/hot-jobs/associate-degree
Hot Jobs Statewide: Occupational Projections, NC Department of Commerce, Labor & Economic Analysis, http://www.nccommerce.com/lead/data-tools/statewide-information/occupational-projections
North Carolina, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
North Carolina, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/37000.html
Economy at a Glance, North Carolina, June 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.nc.htm
North Carolina population on the rise since 2010, The Chronicle, Kirby Wilson, April 3, 2014, http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2014/04/04/north-carolina-population-rise-2010