In the 21st century, most people are taught to go to high school, college, and even graduate school to secure a well-paying job or career. However, many people learn later that this is not the only way to do it. In many cases, there’s not only another option—there’s a better option for career education.
Instead of going to college (or in addition to it), many people opt for career and technical education programs. These programs generally don’t take as long as a bachelor’s degree to complete, and they provide direct paths into many high-paying careers. There isn’t just a single option for career and technical education either, as many trades and professions offer such programs as an entry tool.
In this article, we’ll go over five of the best career and technical education pathways for those looking for a job, along with how to hack your career and break into the tech industry.
Why Choose Career and Technical Education Over College?
There’s a multitude of reasons to opt for career and technical education over college. For one, these programs generally cost a fraction of college tuition. The notion that you ‘need’ a degree to get anywhere in life is nonsense—ask anyone in the tech industry! With the advent of the gig economy, the value of a college degree is shrinking nationwide. In many cases, employers care more about your experience, drive, and abilities than they do about college degrees. Plus, if you major in something without a clear career direction, it’s likely that you’ll struggle to find meaningful employment in your field.
If you’ve already been through college, don’t worry—you’ll spend much less in a career and technical education program, and your degree will be an addition to your qualifications when looking for a job after graduation. Also, education from one of these career and technical programs is a straightforward path into an apprenticeship or career in most of the country. Employment statistics for these programs are excellent, as most of these industries are experiencing a massive labor shortage in our current economy.
Best Career and Technical Education Pathways
- Automotive and Mechanical
The default pathway for many people in career and technical education is automotive and vehicle mechanics. Expert mechanics can make six figures in many parts of the country, and it makes starting a business possible. Diesel mechanics also rake in cash in many places, as many charge between $50 to $100 per hour or more for their labor. It’s an incredibly skilled job, and many people find the work particularly fulfilling. For some, being a mechanic isn’t in their comfort zone, which brings us to our next career and technical education pathway.
- Medical Technician
Medical technicians can receive certification and training through a career and technical education program, some of which are very inexpensive and short-duration. Medicine is one of the most stable career fields in the country, as it’s not as economically sensitive as many others. Also, you can get a job anywhere in the country with a medical certification. There are several specific fields in this category, so do some research if you’re interested. Ultrasound machines need operators, and hospitals need phlebotomists—so it’s an excellent choice for those who aren’t interested in wrenching or welding.
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The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
Speaking of welding, there are plenty of career and technical education programs available for this field too. Welders are extremely skilled tradesmen, and their work is vital around the country. You’ll find them on every bridge, high-rise, and energy-related construction project you encounter—and learning the trade allows you to build some cool things too! Welders frequently make more than $100,000 a year, especially in the energy industry.
- Windmill Technician
On that note, there’s another excellent energy-related field to get into. Renewable energy is huge these days, and it is growing constantly. If you’re looking for a stable, long-term and hands-on job and don’t mind heights, then consider becoming a windmill technician. These professionals climb windmills to maintain and repair the complicated systems inside. The biggest wind farms in the country are located in California, Oregon, and Texas, though windmills are present in most states. If scaling a giant steel pole isn’t on your to-do list, check out our final career and technical education recommendation.
- Coding bootcamp
Coding bootcamp is perhaps the most lucrative of all career and technical education pathways. These fast and intensive education courses last between a few months and a year, and they teach beginners everything they need to know to break into the booming tech industry.
They’re not all centered in California either—coding bootcamps exist in almost every state and even online. Many advertise job placement rates between 70% and 90%, and students frequently earn over $60,000 in their first year of employment. It’s a direct path into a well-paying career in tech, so click the link below if you’re ready to hack your career.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.