There are plenty of great occupations that pay well and are poised for growth and are not likely be outsourced to a low-wage country overseas, according to some interesting new research.

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First, the good news: You don’t have to get a pricey college degree or study something you don’t like to make a good living.

There are plenty of great occupations that pay well and are poised for growth and are not likely be outsourced to a low-wage country overseas, according to some interesting new research. Several don’t even require a day in a college classroom.

Then there’s the bad news: There are also occupations to avoid because there will likely be more job losses than job gains.

Kiplinger, the personal finance magazine and website, started with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of the occupations most likely to grow the fastest to the year 2020. It then searched for the jobs whose average pay at least equals the U.S. median annual wage of $34,460.

That eliminated many low-wage but growing occupations such as home-health-care aides, fast-food cooks and retail clerks.

But it identified some real winners that have strong growth potential and, seemingly, more than the usual amount of job security.

Health-care demand
Unsurprising was the inclusion of registered nurses, whose ranks are expected to grow by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020 and whose average annual pay is between $53,770 and $80,390, said Stacy Rapacon, an online editor with

Or dental hygienists, who earn an annual wage between $56,950 and $83,310 and whose ranks are expected to grow by 37.7 percent by 2020. During that same 10-year period, the U.S. average growth rate for all occupations is 14.3 percent.

That dental demand is one of the reasons Houston Community College began offering a dental-hygiene program in 2011 and graduated its first class in May 2012.

The college launched the program after receiving requests from the dental industry about its growing demand for skilled employees, says Brian Waddle, public relations director.
But there were also some surprises, said Rapacon, who writes the Starting Out column that is geared to workers in their 20s and 30s.

Construction sector
Painters, construction workers and electricians were on the list, she says. There are apprenticeship training programs, including some offered by labor unions, that provide on-the-job training as well as classroom work.

‘’We’re always accepting applications for apprentices,’’ says E. Dale Wortham, vice president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 716, which represents about 3,200 electricians in the area.

However, they have to meet several qualifications, including a year of high school algebra, which he said can be a stumbling block for many applicants.

Applicants for the five-year training program also need a high school or general-equivalency degree and transportation to the job sites and training sessions.

New apprentices typically start working at half of the journeyman wage of about $28 an hour, says Wortham, whose union tries to assess market demand before it determines how many apprentices it will train each year.

School starts in September, and there will probably be about 100 slots for new apprentices, says Gene Brinkmeyer, assistant training director.

On the list, too, is the virtually recession-proof plumbing career. Who, after all, doesn’t have a plumber on their speed dial? When the dishwasher leaks, it’s not like you can put off getting it fixed.

Shrinking careers
At the other end of the spectrum, the worst career move you could make would be to set your sights on the U.S. Postal Service as it cuts back on delivery and service.

While postal clerks enjoy annual average wages of $53,090 to $54,260, no similarly high-paid occupation is expected to lose as many jobs, according to Kiplinger.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the number of postal clerks will decline by 48.2 percent by 2020.

It’s a similar situation for postal carriers.

Another occupation with dwindling demand: reporters and correspondents. The number of those jobs is expected to decline by 7.5 percent by 2020.

Rapacon hastens to add that someone interested in journalism shouldn’t abandon the idea even as the media landscape changes; there will still be jobs in the future, just not as many as there were in the past.