RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In a tight job market many people are being forced to look beyond their chosen career field. In many cases that means shedding the shirt and tie, for a tool belt and work boots.
It doesn't matter how bad the economy gets, people still need to get their cars fixed, their toilets cleared and their air conditioners serviced. Many of these jobs require highly skilled workers, and even when times are tough, they are still in demand.
Hugh Joyce of James River Air Conditioning doesn't mince words when it comes to the job prospects in his industry.
"If you are good technically in heating and cooling, particularly on the service side, you are pretty much guaranteed a job for the rest of your life," said Hugh.
As the economy declines and the job market shrinks more and more workers are realizing the security that can come from a blue collar profession. Its security Bruce Allsop has enjoyed for 40 years.
"There is never any real lack for work," Bruce said.
Bruce has never once feared for his job; even though he was watched friends in other professions go through difficult times.
"No it's pretty secure, everybody needs heat and in this area, air conditioning," he said.
And even though the heating and air conditioning business is solid, it's not even in the top 5 top blue collar fields. Career builder dot com ranks the construction and building inspector trade as number one. Plumbers, pipe fitters and steam fitters rank second, steelworkers third, electricians fourth and elevator installers fifth.
If you aren't afraid to work with your hands, employment should not be a problem.
"Its self-satisfaction, to be able to you know, to fix something and once you walk away from it it's done," said Tom Pugh, Service Manager of James River Air Conditioning.
But all of these lucrative career fields require intense training. Training that may take time to pick up, but once you do, the skill set becomes invaluable.
"Once you get up to speed it's a wonderful career, these guys are making, a senior technician is making 50-75 thousand dollars a year," Hugh said.
And that is working for someone else. Many skilled plumbers, electricians or contractors go into business themselves, where their earning potential is limitless.
"And the neat thing is that you are never restricted in what you can do. You've always got that opportunity to take that next opportunity," said Hugh.
And in this difficult economy, options are always a good thing. There are two ways to break into one of these blue collar career fields. The first is a technical school, where you can pick up the basics in as little as 6 months. The other option is start at the bottom as an apprentice and work your way up.