Finding employment and earning a living wage is a quest shared by unskilled labor, high school drop-outs, and college graduates alike. With unemployment at a steady high, and the U.S. Department of Labor reporting there are more than 12.7 million unemployed Americans, the demand for jobs continues to escalate.

There are reports of thousands of available jobs left unfilled due to a shortage of skilled and trained laborers. According to the California steel industry, there is a strong demand for electrical and mechanical technicians. As reported, an entry level industrial maintenance mechanic can make $64,000 a year with health benefits. It all starts with reinvention.

Reinvention could be as simple as taking a basic education course or working to obtain a General Education Diploma (GED). Maybe it’s a good time to finish that bachelor’s degree you started years ago, or to start a new one in a different field. The thought of starting over at any age is and can be overwhelming; however, it is not as difficult as one might think.

Chicago City Colleges (CCC) and other Illinois community colleges offer various associate degrees and certification programs which can enable the right job seekers, after a relatively short amount of time, to walk into a six-figure job. This can certainly be completed within two years. CCC and many other colleges offer classes seven days a week. Class times range from early morning to late evenings. Many offer online courses.

The first step in starting over or reinventing yourself is conducting a self-assessment of your existing skills and interests. The next step is to contact a college enrollment advisor to discuss what they offer in your field of interests. The third step is to prepare for the college placement or evaluation tests.

Usually, new students are required to take an English composition, reading, and math placement examination. Prior to scheduling these tests, it is a good idea to obtain the services of a tutor, who can help you review, refresh, and/or enhance your skills, and possibly help you to avoid taking developmental or remedial classes prior to taking college level courses. Developmental or remedial level courses can add one or more years onto your two-year timeframe.

Nursing is always a good career choice because it is in high demand, and the pay and benefits are excellent. For those of you who like to write, freelance writing might be the path for you. You can study writing and write an eBook, start an online blog or newsmagazine. After two or three technology courses, one could easily launch a career as a web designer. This field is steadily expanding. Studying to become a computer technician or programmer can be an excellent companion to web designing.

There are many medical assistant fields, including mammography, phlebotomy, and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). EMT is the starting point for many career options. For those with greater ambition and more time, physical therapy can yield a great career within a short training period.

Many junior colleges offer hospitality and culinary arts programs. For the great cooks and food enthusiasts, becoming a nutritionist, chef, baker, or caterer can be a tasty pursuit in culinary arts. This could easily be joined with business administration, and party and event planning.

Another good career choice is becoming a certified personal trainer. More and more people are committed to getting and staying fit. The animal lover might consider training to become a veterinary assistant. This field offers a good salary and a stepping stone to becoming a veterinarian.

Whatever you decide to pursue, reinvention starts by getting to know who you are and what you ultimately want to become. The first step is not always the easiest; however, it is the one that gets your foot in the door. Dare to reinvent yourself; dare to emerge a greater person. The experience is bound to be exciting, challenging, and rewarding.