- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Interview with Brooke Bonnett, Director of the City of Orlando Economic Development Department
Orlando is known for being a popular vacation spot, with big resorts, theme parks, two different oceans habitats and an exciting night life. But Orlando could also be a great place to attend trade school.
Students can choose from a number of colleges, universities, and trade schools in Orlando. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 25 institutions of higher education, including vocational schools and community colleges, offer all kinds of degrees and job training programs.
Orlando Trade Schools and Vocational Schools
Florida students may consider Orlando as a place to earn a degree or certification. This is typically recommended for most jobs these days, as the job market becomes more and more competitive. Whether you're getting into a skilled trade, the health care industry, or the service industry, attending an Orlando trade school or vocational program could help prepare you for entry into the workforce. Here are a few examples of schools in the city that offer two-year programs and other shorter certification programs:
- Centura Institute
- Concorde Career Institute-Orlando
- Florida Institute of Recording Sound and Technology
- MedTech Institute-Orlando Campus
- Southern Technical College
- Universal Technical Institute-Auto Motorcycle & Marine Mechanics Institute Division-Orlando
Students can also consider looking for programs at a community college in the city. Be sure to check the accreditation requirements for your degree or certification, and double-check that your school meets these requirements.
Expert Advice on Vocational Education in Orlando
To learn more about the city of Orlando, we reached out to Brooke R. Bonnett, Director of the City of Orlando Economic Development Department. Below she gives her take on what students and new employees should know about working and going to school in Orlando.
Brooke Bonnet Director of the City of Orlando Economic Development Department
RWM: What is the economic outlook in Orlando?
Bonnett: Orlando led the nation in job growth with 52,200 jobs created in the 12 months ending in December 2015, according to revised data released by the U.S. Department of Labor. Employment growth in 2015 came in at a revised 4.6 percent, making Orlando the fastest-growing of the 30 regions in the country with an employment base of at least one million jobs. The revised 2015 total is Orlando's highest annual gain since 2004, extending a run of recent growth that now brings total net gains since early 2010 to almost 215,000 jobs, far surpassing the 120,000 lost during the recession. The revised count means the region added an average of close to 150 jobs per day in 2015, with almost all major industries participating. Business services was the dominant contributor at more than 44 new jobs daily, followed by the region's headline tourism industry at 27 jobs per day. Orlando was also at the top of a recent Gallup study. Among large cities, Orlando was no.1 in the nation for job creation in 2015, ranking higher than Salt Lake City, Austin, Louisville and Kentucky. The study scored employees reports on hiring activity and used a job index score based on the percentage of workers in each metro area who say their employer is hiring workers and expanding the size of its workforce minus the percentage who say their employer is reducing the size of its workforce.
RWM: What are some of the top employers in Orlando?
Bonnett: Top 20 employers in Central Florida include...
- Walt Disney World Resort
- Universal Orlando (Comcast)
- Adventist Health System/ Florida Hospital
- Orlando Health
- Lockheed Martin
- Westgate Resorts
- SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
- Darden Restaurants
- Rosen Hotels & Resorts
- Wyndham Worldwide
- JP Morgan Chase
- Bright House Networks
- Hospital Corporation of America
- Mears Transportation
- Central Florida Health Alliance
- SunTrust Bank
While we are fortunate to be anchored by a vibrant tourism industry, this sector accounts for only one third of Orlando's labor force. We're seeing a large growth in several industries (mentioned below) but the life sciences and healthcare sector is rapidly growing in the Central Florida region with vital technological advancements and the development of Lake Nona Medical City.
Orlando is also known as the Modeling, Simulation & Training (MS&T) capital of the world thanks in part to one of the top employers and industry leaders, Lockheed Martin, listed above. These top employers are diversifying Orlando's economy and shaping it by creating a highly talented workforce that satisfies a wide range of other companies looking to locate in the region. The life sciences industry is supported by a total annual graduate supply of over 1,600 while the aviation, aerospace and defense industry benefits from over 2,400 annual graduates from tech schools to top universities.
RWM: Are there emerging industries in Orlando?
Bonnett: As mentioned above, we've been growing as a business location for life sciences and healthcare companies as well as aviation, aerospace and defense leaders. Advanced manufacturing is an emerging industry strengthened by the recent announcement of funding for International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing and Research (ICAMR). This project is developing through regional collaboration of business and civic leaders with economic advancement in mind.
Corporate headquarters & regional offices is one of our targeted industries with a focus on bringing large corporations to Orlando with high-wage job opportunities. Companies like SMRxT, Orion Technologies and the newly announced United States Tennis Association (USTA) have seen Orlando's strength as a business location and moved their headquarters from other major metros.
Driven by a superior quality of life, passionate creative culture and high value/low cost of operation, Orlando's dynamic innovative technology industry continues to propel the tech economy. Orlando is home to over 2,000 companies creating technology that shapes all aspects of the economy. Orlando is also where one of the best-selling video games of all time is made, Madden NFL Football, by one of the world's top interactive entertainment software industry leaders, Electronic Arts Tiburon. Partnering with some of the country's leading higher education institutions, powerhouse companies including Oracle, EA Tiburon and Golf Channel have fostered an experienced workforce of over 30,000 employees with an average wage of roughly $70,000. This combination of industry and education has exploded into a burgeoning tech ecosystem with the Southeast's largest tech meetup group consisting of over 3,000 designers, entrepreneurs and investors bound together by creative workspaces, incubators, accelerators, events and supportive civic entities.
RWM: Why is Orlando an attractive location for students?
Bonnett: The City of Orlando offers an excellent quality of life to all of our residents through cultural opportunities, arts, fashion, music, amateur and professional sports, great weather, close proximity to area beaches and extensive recreation activities. With more than 500,000 students living within a 100 mile radius of the City of Orlando and a median age of 34, Orlando is young city with a vibrant, active culture.
Orlando is home to many great neighborhoods anchored by strong commercial districts. These neighborhoods are home to a variety of nationally recognized restaurants and shops and offer a wide range of housing to accommodate both renters and first-time home buyers.
RWM: Which schools would you recommend?
Bonnett: The Orlando region is home to more than 22 colleges and universities including the second largest university in the country, the University of Central Florida (UCF). Located in Downtown Orlando, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy housed in UCF's Center for Emerging Media is one of the best graduate game development schools in the world. Downtown Orlando will also soon be home to UCF's new urban campus.
Orlando students are fortunate to have access to Valencia State College which was named the best community college in the nation as the inaugural winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Valencia State College has partnered with the University of Central Florida through a program known as Direct Connect to UCF which guarantees admission to UCF following the completion of an Associate's Degree program and Valencia State College.
RWM: Why would you recommend someone live in Orlando?
Bonnett: The Orlando region offers irresistible lifestyle options for virtually everyone. One of the fastest-growing major metros in the country, Orlando boasts both high-rise luxury living and distinct neighborhoods, a state-of-the-art performing arts center, sophisticated dining and multiple sports complexes that play host to the NBA Orlando Magic, ECHL Orlando Solar Bears and MLS Orlando City Soccer Club in the downtown core.
This is a welcoming, uniquely livable community offering small-town charm with big-city amenities. For companies of all types and sizes, the area's unparalleled quality of life enhances employee recruitment and retention which create abundant employment opportunities for Orlando's well educated talent pool. For those of us who live here, it simply makes us happy to call Orlando home.