TAP INTO
IN-DEMAND
INDUSTRIES

Information about booming industry sectors and job prospects, as well as the state of our state’s job market.

Opportunities are out there

When it comes to rebuilding North Carolina’s economy, there are still a lot of unknowns. But rest assured, the news isn’t all bad. In addition to many jobs coming back across the state, several industries have either been largely unaffected by the pandemic while others have continued to grow. Here’s what you should know about hot industries, employment forecasts and emerging job opportunities around the state.

Male teacher working with elementary school boy at his desk

Education & Teaching

Not only is teaching a noble profession, it’s also one that’s typically in demand even when the economy isn’t doing well. Being an educator takes strong communication and listening skills as well as a good amount of patience, empathy and adaptability.

Public schools are a top 25 employer in all 100 counties of North Carolina and there are currently more than 24,000 open teaching positions across the state. Counties that need the most teachers include Wake, Durham, Cumberland, Guilford and Mecklenburg.

The average North Carolina teacher’s salary is around $48,000. Of course, teaching positions aren’t the only ones available in the education world. You might also consider becoming a teacher assistant, a substitute teacher or even a pre-school teacher, all of which are also in demand.

Calling all future teachers

In an effort to offset North Carolina’s teacher shortage and help grow diverse talent from within the community, the North Carolina Community College System has created two new degrees:

  • Associate in Arts in Teacher Preparation
  • Associate in Science in Teacher Preparation

Both degrees will seamlessly transfer to universities across the state.

Female nurse talks with senior adult patient

Nursing

Health care in general—and nursing more specifically—tend to be pretty steady when it comes to jobs and careers. In fact, it’s an industry that’s expected to see nearly 9% growth in North Carolina by 2028. So, if you’ve got solid communication skills, a knack for staying calm under pressure, are empathetic and detail-oriented, nursing might be a good fit for you.

Registered nurses in the state make an average salary between $40,000 and $75,000 and can easily move up from there with more experience and additional training. That’s pretty good news considering North Carolina needs about 3,800 more nurses to fill available positions—many of which are located in Wake, Guilford and Mecklenburg counties.

Considering the fact that people will always need health care, nursing is a practically recession-proof career. Plus, there are many different educational paths that can lead to a career in nursing. Some other related occupations in health care include lab technicians, respiratory therapists, pharmacy technicians and EMTs.

Solar power plant engineer is checking

Energy

You typically don’t think about the power that makes almost everything in our lives work. At least, not until it goes out. But maybe you should because jobs in the energy sector are in high demand everywhere, not just North Carolina.

Electrical line workers in North Carolina take home an average salary of $57,000. So, you might want to train up for one of the nearly 14,000 open positions here, especially in Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg counties. And with more than half of today’s line workers retiring by 2026, that demand is only going to increase. Add to that the fact that you can complete training in as little as nine weeks—and that most students graduate with a job offer in hand—and it’s easy to see what makes this career so appealing.

You might also want to consider working in renewable energy. As the demand for renewable energy increases, so will the many types of careers that help capture, store and deliver it—that includes solar technicians, wind energy engineers, biofuels production managers and solar photovoltaic installers, just to name a few.

monitors asian woman

Information Technology

There are lots of career paths to choose from in the IT industry, which is no surprise since pretty much every facet of modern life is dependent on technology. And with the speed of that technology developing faster than ever, projections of nearly 16% industry growth are expected by 2028.

The average wage across the industry is close to $90,000 per year and multiple careers within IT can get you there. In addition to software developers, computer systems analysts, software test engineers, cyber security analysts and specialized IT accountants also make very good salaries.

Job openings in IT tend to be most concentrated in Mecklenburg, Wake, Cumberland, Guilford and Durham counties. However, these days most companies (no matter where they’re located) need at least a few IT professionals on their payroll, meaning these jobs can be applied to most other industries, which can make finding a job that much easier.

Truck driver job. Middle aged trucker driving truck.

Transportation

Transportation in this state is a solid choice with an industry that shows no sign of shrinking any time soon. After all, with people ordering things online more than ever before, those goods have to make their way to their destination somehow.

And with multiple seaports either in or near North Carolina, along with an extensive highway system and largest consolidated rail system in the U.S., there’s no shortage of items coming into North Carolina. Many of which depend on trucks and transportation logistics for the last leg of their journey. That explains why there are 2,610 trucking jobs in the state just waiting to be filled.

Truck drivers here average annual salary of approximately $51,000, with the highest salaries coming out of Northeastern North Carolina, followed by the Piedmont/Triad region. That being said, the cities with the highest demand for truck drivers include Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte and Wilmington.

Male real estate agent shows new home

Real Estate/Property Leasing

It might be surprising, but in the midst of a pandemic real estate continues to move. Part of the industry’s ability to power through comes from its application of technology. These days, many listings offer virtual tours and agents can use video chatting apps to walk potential buyers through houses in real time. This can make the homebuying process faster and safer for both.

Of course, the real estate industry is made up of more than just agents. Other jobs in or related to real estate and property leasing include real estate brokers, maintenance and repair workers, as well as property and community association managers.

There are 2,724 openings for jobs in real estate across North Carolina. And over the next decade, those numbers are expected to grow by nearly 6.5%. So, if you’re a self-motivated problem solver with an engaging personality and plenty of hustle, becoming a real estate agent might just be for you. If so, the average salary you could expect to earn as an agent in North Carolina is almost $56,000.

*While based on data points from multiple sources, the resulting information is intended for illustrative purposes only. Salary information from September 2020.

GOOD STUFF TO CLICK ON

While the pandemic impacted almost every aspect of life in the past year, there are still lots of positive things happening around the state to start off 2021 strong:

  • North Carolina was named ‘2020 State of the Year’ for economic development, job growth and the ability to attract critical businesses to the state despite the pandemic, which means 2021 is the year to get the education you need for the job you want.
  • And while we’re on the topic of awards, this real estate report shows the Greensboro housing market is ‘on fire,’ naming it one of the fastest growing areas in the nation. The area is 19th in the country in popularity for home buying which means the need for realtors and other industry professionals is also growing quickly.
  • If you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, HSM Machine Works in Brunswick County announced they are planning to expand their capabilities in manufacturing aerospace equipment. They’re partnering with the local Cape Fear community college to make sure students have the real-life experience they need to graduate and get a rewarding career in aerospace manufacturing.
  • In other news, the state of North Carolina makes it clear – they’re in need of more teachers in 2021 – and seeking to create a clearer pathway to encourage hiring more educators of color that will better reflect the diversity of our communities.
  • Big news came this year for the North Carolina Community College System, which elected a new president to lead the system in the face of so many challenging national and local issues. Thomas Stith, the first president of color, intends to prioritize partnering with businesses to ensure students have the real-world experience they need to excel in the workplace.
  • The future is bright for jobs in clean energy! More than $2 billion has been invested in North Carolina’s clean energy economy since 2018 and with more than 112,000 North Carolinians currently employed by our clean energy sector to date, and with the pace of the expanding industry, there will be steady jobs available to those who are interested in helping our state becoming a clean energy leader.

In a year unlike any other the value of community college is clear as we enter an economy that will need a growing workforce in a variety of different industries. And before you go, be sure to take a look at these 5 students and learn why they chose community college to prepare them for what’s next.

Upsize Your Salary

From growing industries like tech, aviation and energy, to local favorites like craft brewing and boat making, North Carolina community colleges can help you turn your interests into an in-demand career that pays. See what getting a hire education could mean for you.

Web Developer

$84,321 per year

Raleigh, NC

AgriBusiness Operations Specialist

$64,293 per year

Asheboro, NC

Aviation Systemics Technician

$62,048 per year

Havelock, NC

Aircraft Mechanic

$64,936 per year

Greensboro, NC

Personal Care Aide

$38,169 per year

Greenville, NC

Electrician

$44,457 per year

Jacksonville, NC

Aircraft Mechanic

$65,789 per year

Currituck County, NC

Real Estate Broker

$79,336 per year

Cornelius, NC

Executive Assistant

$43,476 per year

Charlotte, NC

Electrical Power-line Installer

$60,920 per year

Charlotte, NC

Let’s find the right path for you.

Answer a few questions to see what your best route to getting hired might be.

Have you completed high school or an equivalent?

Nope. I’ve got a few years left.

Do you want to work toward earning a degree?

Yep.

All signs point to you getting a head start on your higher education while you’re still in high school.

That’s because the Career & College Promise program allows you to have duel enrollment, so you can work on both at the same time. And since this program is also tuition free, it’s a real money-saver.

Maybe.

All signs point to you getting a head start on your higher education while you’re still in high school.

That’s because the Career & College Promise program allows you to have duel enrollment, so you can work on both at the same time. And since this program is also tuition free, it’s a real money-saver.

Nope.

Your answers suggest on-the-job learning might be a great way to get your foot in the door.

This type of training combines hands-on learning with related classroom instruction. Apprentices earn money while learning a highly-skilled trade from an employer. State and federal certificates as well as other credentials can also be completed through an apprenticeship.

No.

How do you see community college benefitting you?

By helping me grow my skills.

Looks like your top priority is getting the skills you need fast—so you can land a good job quickly.

Short-term training, sometimes called continuing education, comes in various forms and are all focused on helping you gain the real-world skills you need to get into—or move up in—a number of fields. These courses often lead to state licensure or a certificate upon completion.

By preparing me to start a new career.

Your answers suggest on-the-job learning might be a great way to get your foot in the door.

This type of training combines hands-on learning with related classroom instruction. Apprentices earn money while learning a highly-skilled trade from an employer. State and federal certificates as well as other credentials can also be completed through an apprenticeship.

Yes. (Or at least, I will soon.)

Are you interested in earning college credit?

Yes, definitely.

Which way do you prefer to learn?

Virtually or physically, being part of a class works for me.

How much time are you willing to spend getting an education?

Two years, tops. I’m trying to get done and get a job ASAP.

Seems like you want the opportunities that come with a degree, but in half the time of a bachelor’s. 

Associate degrees are perfect for that. They can give you a big advantage over many non-degree holders in the job market—and open up even more potential positions that were previously out of reach. You’ll have relevant skills employers want in about two years.

I could do four—or more.

Great! Sounds like you plan on using community college as a stepping stone to a four-year university.

Like any associate degree, transfer degrees take about two years to complete—but this one includes general education credits that are easily transferable. It counts the same as having completed two years toward a bachelor’s degree.

I learn best by being hands-on. Just show me how to do it.

Your answers suggest on-the-job learning might be a great way to get your foot in the door.

This type of training combines hands-on learning with related classroom instruction. Apprentices earn money while learning a highly-skilled trade from an employer. State and federal certificates as well as other credentials can also be completed through an apprenticeship.

Nope, I don’t need it.

How do you see community college benefitting you?

By helping me grow my skills.

Looks like your top priority is getting the skills you need fast—so you can land a good job quickly.

Short-term training, sometimes called continuing education, comes in various forms and are all focused on helping you gain the real-world skills you need to get into—or move up in—a number of fields. These courses often lead to state licensure or a certificate upon completion.

 

By preparing me to start a new career.

Looks like your top priority is gaining real-world skills—either through on-the-job learning or continuing education.

Short-term training or an apprenticeship can help you gain the specific skills you need to get into—or move up in—a number of fields. Certificates, licensure and other credentials can be completed through these programs via hands-on learning and/or classroom instruction.