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Aircraft mechanics and service technicians, electrical and electronics repairers, commercial divers, petroleum pump systems operators, refinery operators, and precision instrument and equipment repairers have a lot common.

Technology has given many of these jobs a makeover, USA TODAY says. “They require some training but far less school than a bachelor’s degree, leaving them worlds away from their assembly-line predecessors and challenging the notion that good blue-collar jobs are dead.”

According to a USA TODAY analysis of data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. and CareerBuilder, by 2017, an estimated 2.5 million new, middle-skill jobs are expected to be added to the workforce, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all job growth.

With help from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a CareerBuilder company that turns labor market data into information that helps organizations understand the connection between economies, people, and work, USA TODAY identified a skill level for each occupation, based on the minimum education level needed for that occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Middle-skill jobs are those with a national median hourly wage of $13 or more, and education level of high school diploma or some postsecondary training but less than a bachelor’s degree.

Some of the best-paying middle-skill jobs include petrochemical process operators, radiation therapists, elevator installers and repairers, all with a median wage of more than $70,000, says the USA TODAY report, which found good prospects in jobs data from 125 of the nation’s largest metros.

Texas metros – Dallas, McAllen, Austin, Killeen and San Antonio – are among those expecting the fastest growth in middle-skill jobs, as are Atlanta, Augusta, Ga., Salt Lake City, Knoxville, Tenn., and Vallejo, Calif.

Nearly 600 occupations are expected to see a 5 percent or more growth in jobs by 2017. Data include jobs of all skill levels in the 125 largest metros.


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