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Training for Essential Jobs

Training for Essential Jobs

Don’t let the title fool you: Every line of work is critical to those in it.

You and your family need income, no matter if your earnings come from marketing or manufacturing.

But when times of immediate action are necessary, certain industries may temporarily be shut down, while frontline careers—those people standing in the gap between us and trouble—are labeled as essential.

Emergency and medical professionals are among the first to spring into mind as vital, likely because they provide life-saving measures right when we need it. But give yourself another second to think, and you’ll be adding essential workers from a variety of industries to the list in rapid-fire succession.

You’ll see below that the network of essential jobs sprawls wide, but they all maintain a general theme. These are careers that require skilled trade expertise and provide urgent care and support to others.

Read through our sampling of core careers that let you assist your peers in times of need. By training for an essential role, you could be career-ready—and stay fundamental to America’s workforce—in less than 10 months, in most cases.

Essential Careers - 2020

Medical and Emergency

Dental assistant

  • Time to train: as few as 10 months

Even in a time of emergency, people will need help, sometimes urgently, with their teeth. Dental assistants aid dentists with patients’ oral emergencies, tool sterilization, x-rays, and scheduling. Find a local dental assisting program.


  • Time to train: as few as 4 months

Doctors and hospitals rely on blood tests for preventative and diagnostic care. Phlebotomists are necessary to perform the blood draws from the patient, label the samples, and help donors at blood drives. Find your local phlebotomy program.

Veterinary assistant

  • Time to train: as few as 7 months

Veterinarians remain in service as essential, and assistants are their right-hands, in good times and bad. Vet assistants care for the animals, clean and disinfect exam rooms, and give medications to recovering pets. Find a veterinary assistant school.

Medical billing and coding

  • Time to train: as few as 10 months

Billers and coders working behind the scenes allow the medical community to function just as much as doctors and nurses do. Medical billers and coders assign codes to medical diagnoses and bill insurance companies, keeping the system running. Find a medical billing school or online medical coding program.

Emergency medical technician (EMT)

  • Time to train: as few as 4 months

It’s difficult to imagine any time when emergency medical services, including first responders, EMTs, and paramedics, would not be needed. EMTs provide first aid and life-support care to patients onsite or en route to a facility. Find an EMT training program.

Police officer

  • Time to train: as few as 10 months

Public officials, such as law enforcement, paralegals, firefighters, and other criminal justice professionals, are never out of service. Police officers respond to calls from hurt or endangered people, ticket violators, and patrol their areas. Find criminal justice training near you.

Skilled trades


  • Time to train: as few as 6 months

Plumbing experts are already called upon day and night, helping others prevent or recover from damage. Residential communities depend on plumbers for gas and water, and pipefitters serve many industries with repairs and installs for chemical and gas lines. Find a plumbing training program.


  • Time to train: as few as 10 months

Having electricity to power our lives is a privilege that quickly can become a priority in certain situations. Electricians fix and install wiring and equipment. Like most of the skilled trade careers, electricians may say they are just doing their jobs, but their work can turn the most troubled callers into grateful customers. Find your electrician class today.

HVAC technician

  • Time to train: as few as 6 months

If an A/C unit breaks down or a furnace stops, bad consequences can follow, which is why HVAC technicians are well-versed in overtime and odd hours. They will stop when problems do — and you’d better believe there will always be more heating and cooling systems to install or repair. Find HVAC training locally and online.

CDL-A truck driver

  • Time to train: as few as 3-6 weeks

They’re called some of America’s heroes for one very important reason: If truck drivers stop, everything stops. Anything you buy in a store or online has been handled by a truck driver at some point, from manufacturing to delivery. It’s not an exaggeration to say that truckers keep the U.S. running. Find a CDL Class A training program near you.

Forklift operator

  • Time to train: as few as 1-2 days

Forklift operators help fellow warehouse associates, such as sorters and packers, fulfill customer and client orders. Many times, these drivers are transporting palleted food, water, and other vital supplies to the docks for trucks to pick up. Other times, they move around the floor, managing inventory retrieval and placement. Find out about online and in-person forklift training.

Diesel mechanic

  • Time to train: as few as 10 months

Someone needs to keep the semis, emergency vehicles, construction equipment, and passenger cars on the road! Diesel mechanics do it all, from breakdowns to preventative maintenance. Find a local mechanic training program.


Culinary arts

  • Time to train: less than 10 months

While the food industry may have to reflect the times and change accordingly, restaurants and all the various food service professionals are essential to life. Besides dining establishments, hospitals and kitchens need cooks and chefs to feed people. Find culinary training courses.

Custodial and building cleaners

  • Time to train: on-the-job training

Without these essential service providers, natural disasters and medical situations could easily get out of hand. Janitorial staff members keep building occupants safer by addressing and preventing health issues.



Computer Support Specialist

  • Time to train: as few as 18 months

Nearly every business and organization requires technology assistance in some form, and online activity roars into action when daily life interrupts. Information technology (IT) support specialists solve computer and network problems for others, from small user headaches to major device crashes. Find an IT training program.

Online Training for Essential Careers

In tough times like what the world is currently facing, essential careers are the only ones physically allowed to go to work in America. However, many people have switched to remote work at home, and even other companies have found they can shift their practices and offer services digitally, allowing them to stay open. Learn about online programs now.

So if you find your interests and personal abilities don’t match up with this list, explore other options that let you remain flexible in your career—whatever else is happening!

Find online business training programs for accountants, financial managers, and loan officers here.