Though Delaware is a small state, there are a number of opportunities for students interested in taking the vocational or trade school route. Students attending Delaware trade schools will find a number of perks to attending school here and living here. Along this state's Atlantic Coast seashore, you can find about a half-dozen beaches to visit, including Bethany, Dewey, and Rehoboth, and, of course, Fenwick Island.
Trends at Vocational Schools in Delaware
Vocational education is more than a one-stop shop in Delaware. You can find plenty of choices to select from. While you may be unsure of what program to pursue, keep in mind that diploma and certificates are typically the quickest route to an education, taking a year or less, while an associate degree takes about two. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), associate degrees are a popular path in the state. In fact, more people pursued associate degrees in Delaware than they did master's degrees recently. Before deciding on an educational path, you may want to know some of the largest industries in the state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that business, finance, and education and health services are among those with the most employment in Delaware. Let's take a closer look at these.
- Business: Whether you want to build skills in general business or business administration, you'll find opportunities for learning at community colleges and trade schools in Delaware. You may be able to gain skills about business law, finance, marketing and more. What kinds of business are there in Delaware? DuPont, Total Wine & More, and Wilmington Trust are among those headquartered there.
- Finance: People may say money where's it at, but you'll need the skills and know-how to succeed in a career in finance. That includes knowing how to crunch numbers, which you could learn through an associate degree in accounting. You might even be able to pursue options for financial planning or financial management and more. Principles of Finance, Investment, and Financial Banking could be part of your core finance classes.
- Health Services: So many different degrees are available in health services that you will have a wide variety of picks. Think about medical coding studies, work to become a medical laboratory technician, or consider pursuing physical therapy assisting or nursing. All can be studied by enrolling for a two-year degree or certificate program. And, if that's not enough, you also can find study options for respiratory care, surgical technology and nuclear medicine at Delaware vocational schools and community colleges.
Careers for Delaware Trade School Grads
The fastest-growing jobs in Delaware fall into a variety of fields ranging from skilled trades to health care. Here is a look at some of the vocational-level careers in Delaware, with recent salary data and job opportunities as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Advertising Sales Agents||340||48,670|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||370||47,540|
|Civil Engineering Technicians||460||44,590|
|Dental Laboratory Technicians||300||29,590|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||150||71,910|
|Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses||1,820||49,410|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||1,350||55,380|
|Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers||1,780||65,740|
|Real Estate Sales Agents||610||52,460|
And what's good for Delaware could be good for the region. In fact, a recent article in Delaware's "News Journal" reports that Delaware is a leader in employment growth among the Mid-Atlantic States and that it has been adding jobs at a healthy pace. Construction of a new highway through the state also is expected to spur growth. This is Highway 301, which could boost the economy 1.5 times the costs of construction, according to another "News Journal" report. So whether it's health or highways, you may be able to find ways to apply your skills as a graduate of Delaware vocational schools.
Expert Advice on Vocational Education in Delaware
To learn more about trade schools and technical training, we spoke with recruiter Pat Carey. He began his career with Adecco Staffing in 1997 and currently serves as a regional vice president for the company. During his 19-year tenure, he's worked in a variety of roles that have allowed him to gain experience in all aspects of the recruitment and human resources business. On a day-to-day basis, he and his team touch a wide range of industries and job types, fulfilling temp, temp-to-hire and direct placement employment needs.
Pat Carey is a regional vice president for Adecco Staffing.
RWM: What demand is there for vocational workers across various industries?
Carey: We are seeing a steady demand for vocational workers who specialize in machine operation, mechanics and Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machinists, and we anticipate demand for these manufacturing roles to increase across all industries as Baby Boomers phase out of work.
Healthcare is a steady contributor to job opportunities in the manufacturing space, especially in terms of medical device production. In addition, technology is a growing driver of the need for skilled vocational workers and it is influencing manufacturing employment in two distinct ways. First, the rise of tech is increasing the demand for modern products that help businesses advance or that make consumers lives easier. With more products being created, more manufacturing roles are being added to keep pace with production needs. The second way technology is driving the need for skilled vocational workers is the demand for machine operators and mechanics to understand how technology plays into the industrial work environment. For example, tech can impact everything from basic safety protocols to machine robotics.
RWM: Which sectors are particularly growing right now for graduates with vo-tech training?
Carey: We're seeing a spike in demand for fresh talent in the manufacturing sector. The neat thing about manufacturing is that it's the cornerstone of numerous industries, allowing vocational graduates with a focus in that sector to choose to work for a company that best aligns with their particular passions and interests. For instance, they could work at the manufacturing plant where their favorite chocolate is made or handle logistics for their favorite clothing retailer. Some popular jobs right now in manufacturing include assembly and production roles, as well as positions that deal with robotics. In addition, vocational workers with experience in Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machining are in high demand.
RWM: Have you seen any unique hiring trends for vocational employees?
Carey: Companies across all geographic regions are seeking ways to stay competitive in today's candidate-driven market, especially manufacturing businesses, which are preparing for the mass retirement of Baby Boomers over the next five years. Because of the diminishing pool of people with manufacturing skills, employers are loosening their requirements around the prior experience needed in order to obtain a job in manufacturing. For example, in the past, one of our manufacturing customers required candidates to have two years of experience to land a temp job at its plant. Later, that requirement was reduced to one year of experience. Now, we're seeing that employer accept vocational schooling as a qualifier when candidates don't have past manufacturing work experience.
In fact, in Vermont, a major employer has recently partnered with a college to pilot an innovative program aimed at attracting and training workers from various backgrounds in becoming certified production technicians. Students of the program won't have to pay for the schooling and will have a potentially life-changing career opportunity after successfully completing the course.
RWM: What does your recent survey of Generation Z and Millennial students say about changes in education?
Carey: According to Adecco Staffing's Way to Work survey, 74 percent of students entering the workforce feel that their colleges and universities didn't prepare them for work. That said, it would make sense for some students to be interested in vocational schooling as a way to get that 'real life' work experience under their belts sooner. The survey also found that Millennial and Gen Z job seekers are very concerned with paying student debt. Also interesting, financial stability is a top priority for young people entering the workforce, and more than two out of three respondents (69 percent) would rather have a stable job lacking passion than a passionate job lacking stability.
RWM: What kind of insight can you share about career development for vo-tech graduates?
Carey: As recruiters, we typically view vocational students as motivated individuals who want to better themselves and advance their career path. Employers are seeing that, too. As hiring managers put vocational experience on a more level playing field with work experience, we are seeing an increased number of success stories and opportunities for growth for people with a two-year education or less. Whether education is necessary later down the road is dependent on the type of role a vocational worker is filling. The good news is many employers are willing to train their top performers to keep them up-to-date on the latest proficiencies.
In addition, across the board, we are seeing a tremendous uptick in temp employees being converted to full-time status compared to recent years. Employers don't want to lose talent to competitors, and they know that they have to move quickly when a high performing candidate comes along.
RWM: What advice do you have for students pursuing a vocational or career-oriented education?
Carey: The advice I would give to those pursuing vocational schooling is to set your goals high and understand your skillset. Make sure you find a program or choose a career that will allow you to leverage your strengths - that's the best way to achieve your long-term goals.
Financial Aid in Delaware
There are different ways for students in Delaware to find financial aid, but the first step can be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. A FAFSA4caster is even available to help you understand your options in advance. If eligible for aid, you may qualify for loans with locked-in interest rates, work-study programs and even grants, which do not need to be repaid.
You'll need to have a number of materials on hand to begin the FAFSA application process, which can be completed entirely online. This includes your own social security number, that of your parent or parents, and a driver's license number if you have a license. More details can be found on the FAFSA website. Other opportunities for financial aid in Delaware, particularly in the form of scholarships, include:
- Delaware College Investment Plan: While this may be best utilized before starting college, it offers opportunities to sock money away with automatic investments as low as $15 a month or $50 quarterly. Qualified withdrawals can be made at the time of need and are free of federal and state taxes.
- Fidelity 529 College Rewards Visa Credit Card: Receive up to 2 percent back on purchases made and have cash back put into a pre-established Fidelity college savings account or accounts. There is no annual fee on this card as well as no expirations on rewards.
- Scholarship Incentive Program: Legal residents of Delaware who can show financial need can apply for this program, which is available to students enrolled full-time in undergraduate or graduate programs. The award amount for undergraduates is based on high school GPA and varies between $700 to $2,200 annually. The $2,200 amount is for applicants with a high school GPA between 3.75 and 4.0.
- Nursing Incentive Program: Students interesting in pursuing community college education to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or registered nurse (RN) can apply for this loan available to state residents with at least a 2.5 high school GPA. The program offers one year of loan forgiveness for every one year of employment at a specific state-owned hospital or clinic.
You may find many other opportunities for financial aid in Delaware. As you apply to vocational schools or community colleges, be sure to ask about opportunities. Have a presence in the school's financial aid office and let people know that you are looking for help so that if opportunities arise they know of your interest.
- Degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by level of degree and state or jurisdiction: 2010-11 through 2012-13, National Center for Education Statistics, no date. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_319.20.asp
- Delaware, Economy at a Glance, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.de.htm
- "Delaware's job growth outpaces region, says economist," Feb. 13, 2015, Delaware Online The News Journal, http://www.delawareonline.com/story/money/business/2015/02/13/delawares-job-growth-outpaces-region-says-economist/23393791/
- Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/f4cForm?execution=e1s1
- Fidelity Investments 529 College Rewards® Visa Signature® Card, Fidelity, https://www.fidelity.com/529-plans/529-visa-signature-credit-card
- Financial Management, Associate of Science Degree, Franklin University, http://www.franklin.edu/financial-management-associates-degree-curriculum
- General Business, Associate Degree Program, Delaware Technical Community College, https://www.dtcc.edu/academics/programs-study/general-business
- "Degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by level of degree and state or jurisdiction: 2010-11 through 2012-13," National Center for Education Statistics, no date. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_319.20.asp
- Nursing Incentive Program, State of Delaware, http://www.doe.k12.de.us/Page/1050
- Programs of Study, Delaware Technical Community College, https://www.dtcc.edu/academics/programs-study
- Scholarship Incentive Program, State of Delaware, http://www.doe.k12.de.us/Page/996
- The Delaware College Investment Plan, Fidelity, https://www.fidelity.com/delaware-529/overview.shtml
- "301 project could bring $705 million for Delaware economy", Feb. 14, 2016, The News Journal Delaware Online, http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2016/02/04/301-project-could-bring-705-million-delaware-economy/79815500/
- Top 50 Fastest Growing Occupations, Delaware, CareerOneStop, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?printer=&next=oview1&level=Overall&optstatus=101000000&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=10&jobfam=&group=2&showall=no
- Visit Delaware, Delaware Endless Discoveries, http://www.visitdelaware.com/