Talent, trades, technology: A new attitude and another path to success

Students who want to step into the working world as soon as possible have plenty of options—an associate degree, on-the-job training programs, or professional certification, for example. 

“We’re really good at training and preparing students to go to work,” says Quintin Taylor, chief public affairs officer of Louisiana’s Community and Technical Colleges. 

The LCTCS is comprised of 12 comprehensive community and technical colleges across the state, which offer short-term workforce programs, in addition to two-year associate  degrees.

One program currently in demand is the commercial driver’s license program, where students earn a CDL and become certified during a four-to-six week program depending on the level of certification. Most people don’t realize these drivers have a starting salary of between $45,000 and $60,000. “Our students are being hired at an amazing rate,” Taylor says.

Welding, process technology, health care, electrical line technology, HVAC, drafting and construction management are also popular fields where LCTCS students can find well-paying jobs, he says.

Students who pursue a two-year associate degree at one of Louisiana’s community colleges are able to transfer those credits to a four-year university, Taylor says. One of the advantages of the transfer route is the much lower cost of a community college and the chance to adapt to college life on a smaller scale. 

“It allows students an opportunity to mature,” he says. “Once they get a taste of it, they’re better prepared to transfer to a four-year university and complete their bachelor’s degree.”

Another growing field is the IT sector. For instance, many students who graduate from Baton Rouge Community College with a two-year associate degree in computer science are going to work for IBM, he says.

In the past, there has been a stigma and perception that community and technical colleges were somehow ‘less than’ other programs and not a viable option, but according to Tayor, those perceptions are changing because those schools can demonstrate the impact they have on the job market.

Students and parents are encouraged to do their research when looking for a vo-tech school, a community college, or a training program. Ask to speak to a recent graduate. Find out what kind of jobs students are getting, and what they are earning.

Most programs do a good job of aligning with the needs of local business and industry, and then implementing those requirements into the curriculum. It’s a relationship that supports the local work force, stimulates the job market, and produces talented, skilled young professionals with bright futures.  


INSTRUMENTATION TECHNICIAN

(Electronics and electrical)

• Works mostly in chemical plants, petroleum refineries and industrial settings

• Monitor atmospheric and environmental changes in industrial areas and buildings

• Test, calibrate, install and repair monitoring devices

• Diagnose faults in circuitry and wiring

SALARY: $15.55/hour entry level, $37.62/hour experienced


WELDER

• Take metal components and use extreme heat to fuse them together to form a final product

• Need the strength and skill to manage welding equipment

• Operate and maintain the machines, equipment and structures used in their daily job tasks

• Usually work in industrial, motor vehicle, shipbuilding, construction and steel industries

SALARY: $15.34/hour entry level, $35.97/hour experienced


PHLEBOTOMIST

• Identifies patients via ID, medical record, etc.

• Draws blood and collects samples from patients

• Labels samples and sends them out for testing and analysis

• Phlebotomists most often work in hospitals, labs, clinics, surgical centers and other health care centers.

SALARY: $10.13/hour entry level, $18.65/hour experienced


CLOUD COMPUTING

(Computer and information systems management)

• IT specialist who is also referred to as a cloud engineer

• Responsible for technological duties associated with cloud computing—support, maintenance, design, management, planning

• Knowledgeable about file storage, cloud processes, and managing data across a number of remotely located servers 

SALARY: $28.89/hour entry level, $51.14/hour typical

BY EMILY KERN HEBERT

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