Highest-earning, Middle-income Jobs in Central Ohio for 2020
Despite a strong economy and an unemployment rate that hit a 20-year low last year, many Central Ohioans are still living below the federal poverty line. Among the many reasons for this is a discouraged workforce and a lack of full-time, well-paying jobs.
That being said, there are local and statewide initiatives that are attempting to close the workforce gap and connect would-be job seekers with Central Ohio’s most promising jobs, as well as a clear path to new careers.
“Currently, we are turning out graduates from our apprenticeship program with the skill and knowledge to be a qualified and competent tradesperson,” said Dorsey Hager, executive secretary for the Central Ohio Building Trades Council, a group that represents local trade unions and provides tuition-free apprenticeship opportunities.
“Many of our graduates are earning $50,000 to $100,000 per year with a full benefits package that includes medical, dental and vision, annuity, and pension,” he said.
Aside from a four or five-year apprenticeship program, Hager says a job in the trades industry will emphasize soft skills.
“All of our trades have different levels of math so math is important. Soft skills are important as well — showing up on time every day. And the ability to pass a drug test,” he said.
Based on data from a recently released interactive tool, featuring the state’s top in-demand jobs based on wage, growth and job openings, these are the highest-earning middle-income careers for Central Ohioans to consider this year:
Structural Iron and Steelworkers
Structural iron and steelworkers are responsible for positioning and constructing structural steel and iron to create structural frameworks and buildings. These positions involve welding and cutting steel, reading blueprints, as well as working with concrete for reinforcement.
The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent. However, while some structural iron and steelworkers can learn this trade on the job, generally they learn through about a four-year apprenticeship, which in part includes paid, on-the-job training.
Structural iron and steelworkers have a median salary of $63,000. There are about 400 employed in Central Ohio, though annual job openings and projected yearly growth in this role is relatively small.
Compared to Ohio at-large, structural iron and steelworkers in Central Ohio have a median salary of $1,000 more.
School Bus Drivers
School bus drivers transport students or specific groups, such as the elderly or persons with disabilities, to and from a variety of places — including school, field trips and home. Drivers help riders in boarding and exiting safely, maintain order and check that the conditions of the bus are in working order.
The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent. Bus drivers are also required to have a commercial driver’s license and complete a few months of training, with additional testing to receive passenger and/or school bus endorsement.
School bus drivers have a median salary of $55,000, nearly $25,000 more compared statewide. There are nearly 1,400 employed in Central Ohio, with a modest amount of annual job openings.
Construction Equipment Operators
Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators are responsible for operating one or several types of power construction equipment to move, excavate, and grade earth, sand, gravel or other materials, as well as pour concrete and erect structures. Construction equipment includes bulldozers, trench excavators, road graders, industrial trucks and/or tractors, air compressors, pumps, and similar equipment. Workers may perform maintenance or repairs on these machines as well.
The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent. Workers learn equipment operation on the job, through a four or five-year apprenticeship, or by attending a reputable trade school. Though they are not required, employment prospects are higher with a CDL.
Construction equipment operators have a median salary of $53,000. There are over 2,700 employed in Central Ohio, with annual job openings in the 300 range.
Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters
Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters are tasked with installing and repairing pipelines or systems that carry liquids, gases, air or waste byproducts in businesses, homes and factories. Workers may also install heating and cooling appliances and mechanical control systems.
The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent. Most plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters learn this skill through several years of apprenticeship, four or five years specifically. They also attend technical school for some other necessary skills and courses.
Before working independently, contractors in the hydronics and plumbing trades must have three to five years of experience to qualify for a Commercial Contractor License in the state of Ohio.
Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters have a median salary of $52,000. There are over 2,600 employed in Central Ohio, with annual job openings in the 300 range.
Services Sales Representatives
Services sales representatives are responsible for selling the services of nearly any kind of company. Their work requires developing and maintaining communication and relationships with clients and customers, as well as negotiating. Many work on a base salary plus either commission or bonuses.
Their work does not require specialized or technical knowledge unless services are scientific or technical in nature. However, sales representatives often attend seminars in sales techniques, take courses in marketing, economics or communication, go through a company’s formal training programs or earn a college degree in business, communications or similar paths. They may also benefit from a Certified Sales Professional certification.
Services sales representatives have a median salary of $52,000. There are over 7,000 employed in Central Ohio, with annual job openings at over 900.
Visit columbusconstruction.org for more information about the Central Ohio Building Trades Council and to learn about local trade careers.
For more information on in-demand jobs in Central Ohio and beyond, check out the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and InnovateOhio’s online, interactive In-Demand Jobs List tool.