Categorized | Grad School

Tech Education Opens Career Doors for Working Adults

Posted on 08 March 2009

For people without a bachelor’s or advanced degree, the idea of competing for jobs against those with “BA,” “BS,” or the dreaded “MBA” behind their names, is not appealing. However, with technological advances in nearly every business and industry, new needs have emerged, giving people without degrees the opportunity to build a career with vocational technical training.

Vocational technical training is specialized training that prepares a person for a career in a specialized field requiring knowledge of special equipment, tasks, and procedures. Normally requiring one to two full years of study, a person can earn certificates, diplomas, and Associates of Applied Technology degrees. Subjects most commonly associated with tech education include:

  • Business: Office administration, office equipment operation, specific accounting and bookkeeping tasks, etc.
  • Computers: Building, programming, repair, installation, and networking
    Planning a non-profit career path is like planning a career in the profit-earning sector.
  • Health: Nursing, dental and surgical technicians, medical assistants, and health information coding specialists
  • Industrial: Welding, electronics, electrical training, drafting, and HVAC
  • Automotive: Auto repair, tractor trailer operation

These are just some of the areas that have been offered by technical schools for many years. With the surge in popularity of these programs, however, programs have become more well-rounded, offering the psychology, English, and math components more commonly associated with liberal arts colleges.

This kind of education helps people who, for lifestyle, financial, or other reasons, have felt locked out of the pursuit of an advanced degree. It’s an opportunity to develop skills that can be translated into demanding, rewarding, and often lucrative careers.

Success Stories
Patricia Davies’ dream was a career in medicine. However, raising two small children on her cashier’s salary made medical school unlikely. Then she enrolled in a technical college in her small California town, in the surgical technology program. They offered her tuition, transportation, and childcare assistance, and required her to attend some life skills workshops to help her plan a new future.

With a little rearranging of her work schedule, Patricia was able to complete the program in less than two years. She has now graduated from $6.85 per hour as a night cashier to $15.75 per hour as a professional surgical technician. And her dreams of medical school have not only stayed alive, but are now within her reach.

Salaries like the one Patricia commands now only scratch the surface of what people with technical training can earn. In today’s booming computer technology field, people who complete training programs as short as nine months long are earning salaries from the low 30′s to the high 70′s and beyond for building, programming, networking, and repairing the computers the world uses to travel the information highway.

Back to the Head of the Class
The same can be said for many of the majors offered at adult technical education schools. The opportunity to increase one’s salary and advance more rapidly is driving many people who already hold advanced degrees back to school for technical training. Many employees, who earned their degrees prior to intranets and the Internet, have found that they now need more training to be competitive in a field they have worked in for several years. Knowledge of bits and bytes has taken its place at the head of the class, where seniority was once all someone needed to be first in line.

This revelation, causing masses of employed people to return to school, sparked another phenomenon-the rise of the average incoming freshman’s age. Technical schools welcome the non-traditional student, where the average freshman is 26-45, and likely married with one to three kids.

Number Crunching
Technical schools are seeing a rise in the number of new applicants with each semester; naturally, the number of technical schools also continues to grow. According to the U.S. Office of Educational Research and Improvement, there are currently 11 million secondary and postsecondary technical education institutions in operation, most government-funded.

Programs like those offered at technical trade schools and colleges have carved a place for a new segment of the workforce, the technically-trained professionals. A person wishing to pursue a new career path, or advance in their own career, can do research by inquiring at any local technical college admissions office or website, or by visiting the Association for Career and Technical Education for more information. Taking on technical training should prove fruitful, as most technical colleges report an average of 90% of their graduating seniors gainfully employed in their field of study six months after graduation.

Not bad numbers, technically speaking.

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