Posted in Career Planning, Common Sense College Planning, Community college

A Radical Idea

Many people who experience unemployment and heavy student loan debt have followed a popular recipe promoted in USA. It is to go to college immediately after high school and borrow tuition if necessary (everybody does it!). While in college, you can “find yourself” and go on to pursue your passion.

If you flip the script, you take away the propaganda message that everyone needs a 4-year degree, that student loan debt is inevitable, and that the only way to “find yourself” is by taking expensive college classes. What if after a $200,000 bachelor’s degree they “find” that they’d like to be something else?

What if…. they spent a bit of time working and maturing and learning about what they’d like to do for a career?

What if…. your teen learned a skilled trade first? BEFORE deciding on a 4 year degree?

What if…. they had a skill (or employer) that allowed them to pay their way through college without student loan debt?

What if…. they graduated from college at 22 or 23 or even 24 instead of 21?

This post is not a directive; it’s a question.

This post is not a recipe; it’s an idea.

This post is not for everyone, but it might be for your teen. Or not. The suggestion is that you have OPTIONS and you don’t have to march toward the cliff just because everyone else is doing so. For what it’s worth, all my kids have degrees and I’m totally pro-education credential. It helps promote professionalism in an industry, and it helps teens (employees) see that for those who take their job seriously, it can become a career. All my teens started college classes in high school and all learned a skill as well. Bachelor’s degrees came later, and were cash-flowed on an as-needed basis. I’m not saying that YOU should do that! If you’re a regular reader, you know that I think you are your child’s best guidance counselor. I hope this post leaves you with the idea that there may be more than one way to develop their homeschool exit strategy.

You should do what’s best for YOUR family, but you should know that there are many ways to get there!

Many Homeschooling for College Credit families have access to community college dual enrollment programs that allow students to take general education (English, math, history, etc.) classes as well as career and technical courses (culinary, IT, welding, nursing, etc). If your teen has this option, it’s entirely possible that they can graduate from high school with a certificate or associate degree already complete!

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, of the most in-demand/projected growth careers, several only require an associate degree.

OCCUPATIONENTRY-LEVEL
EDUCATION 
ON-THE-JOB
TRAINING 
PROJECTED NUMBER
OF NEW JOBS 
PROJECTED
GROWTH RATE 
2020 MEDIAN PAY 
Diagnostic medical sonographersAssociate’s degreeNone10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$60,000 to $79,999
Occupational therapy assistantsAssociate’s degreeNone10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$60,000 to $79,999
Physical therapist assistantsAssociate’s degreeNone10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Preschool teachers, except special educationAssociate’s degreeNone50,000 or moreMuch faster than average$30,000 to $39,999
Respiratory therapistsAssociate’s degreeNone10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$60,000 to $79,999
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm?pay=&education=Associate%26rsquo%3Bs+degree&training=&newjobs=&growth=Much+faster+than+average&submit=GO

The following table indicates jobs projected to grow “much faster than average” but that only require a high school diploma followed by a bit of training.

OCCUPATIONENTRY-LEVEL
EDUCATION 
ON-THE-JOB
TRAINING 
PROJECTED NUMBER
OF NEW JOBS 
PROJECTED
GROWTH RATE 
2020 MEDIAN PAY 
Flight attendantsHigh school diploma or equivalentModerate-term on-the-job training10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Industrial machinery mechanicsHigh school diploma or equivalentLong-term on-the-job training50,000 or moreMuch faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Chefs and head cooksHigh school diploma or equivalentNone10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Security and fire alarm systems installersHigh school diploma or equivalentModerate-term on-the-job training10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
First-line supervisors of gambling services workersHigh school diploma or equivalentNone1,000 to 4,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Media and communication workers, all otherHigh school diploma or equivalentShort-term on-the-job training1,000 to 4,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Solar photovoltaic installersHigh school diploma or equivalentModerate-term on-the-job training5,000 to 9,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Bus drivers, transit and intercityHigh school diploma or equivalentModerate-term on-the-job training10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
ChoreographersHigh school diploma or equivalentLong-term on-the-job training1,000 to 4,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Costume attendantsHigh school diploma or equivalentShort-term on-the-job training1,000 to 4,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialistsHigh school diploma or equivalentModerate-term on-the-job training0 to 999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Community health workersHigh school diploma or equivalentShort-term on-the-job training10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
First-line supervisors of personal service and entertainment and recreation workers, except gambling servicesHigh school diploma or equivalentNone10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
PhotographersHigh school diploma or equivalentModerate-term on-the-job training10,000 to 49,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Recreational vehicle service techniciansHigh school diploma or equivalentLong-term on-the-job training1,000 to 4,999Much faster than average$40,000 to $59,999
Exercise trainers and group fitness instructorsHigh school diploma or equivalentShort-term on-the-job training50,000 or moreMuch faster than average$40,000 to $59,999

Career School Now Website

“WHAT IS A TRADE SCHOOL?
Trade school is hands-on education. It’s a learning format focused on teaching you a specific set of skills, so there aren’t as many general education courses (outside of 1-2) that pertain to the career. This dramatically reduces classroom time.

Trade schools have small class sizes, approximately 5-30 students. Small class sizes give you more one-on-one time with the instructor, making it easier to ask questions and receive answers.

Vocational school education gets you into many well-paying careers. In 2020, for example, dental assistants in had an average annual pay of $42,310 (bls.gov). Electricians averaged an annual pay of $61,550, and HVAC technicians made an average annual pay of $53,410 (bls.gov). There are dozens of industries with hundreds of career roles to chose from; these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Additionally, the trades have many open positions, and since trades deal with essential life elements, they typically come with job stability. Skilled trades such as plumbing, electrical, and welding are experiencing shortages of qualified people. Medical & Healthcare—which many of the fastest-growing occupations fall under—and technology are also experiencing the same problem: more jobs opening and no one to fill them.

Those coming out of trade schools have good opportunities. Your specialized training will prepare you for a great career, and give you the necessary certifications to take on an entry-level job.

Fast Trade School Programs with Good Pay

The salaries listed below are the average pay from the official BLS website. Keep in mind, entry level pay is less, but as you gain experience, your paycheck will increase to match. In some areas the jobs listed, like truck driver and HVAC technician are moving very fast and have been paying more than this list would indicate.

Truck Driver

  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL) training programs are fast! They take 3-6 weeks to complete; average pay: $47,130 per year or $22.66 per hour per hour. There is a major trucker shortage right now.

Read: What does a truck driver do?

Diesel Mechanic

  • Diesel mechanic training programs take 6 months to 1 year to finish, but some schools do offer 2 year associate’s degree programs; average pay: $50,200 per year or $24.13 per hour.

Read: What does a diesel mechanic do? for more.

Medical Assistant

  • Certified medical assistant programs can take as little 8 weeks to a few months to complete. This is another career where you can stay in school longer, up to an associate’s degree; average pay: 35,850 per year or $17.23 per hour.

Find a medical assistant school near you.

Dental Assistant

Read: What does a dental assistant do? for more.

Medical Coder

  • Medical coding programs take about 8 weeks to a few months complete and it’s a popular online course that you can complete at your own pace. This is a career where you can stay in school longer, up to an associate’s degree; average pay: $44,090 or $21.20 per hour.

Read: What does a certified coding specialist do?

HVAC Technician

  • HVAC school programs take about 6 months to 1 year to finish; average pay: $51,420 per year or $24.72 per hour. HVAC jobs are plentiful in many areas.

Read: What does an HVAC technician do?

Plumber

  • Plumbing trade school programs take about 1 year of school, then you start your apprenticeship; average pay: $56,330 per year or $27.08 per hour.

Read: Plumber Job Description (& How to Become One)


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Site Owner, Homeschooling for College Credit