The tourism and visitor industries have long been the driving forces behind Hawaii's economy. Millions of people vacation here every year, and often more than nine days on average. Yet, according to The Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii, tourism has been stalling, but other industries -- such as construction -- are seeing upticks in performance.
Students at Hawaii vocational schools may consider fields such as business, education, health, finance and even hospitality, which are doing well in the state according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And given Hawaii's prominence as a tourist destination, leisure and hospitality are significant sectors as well.
Education trends and opportunities in Hawaii
A career and technical education (CTE) can provide a way to enter many of these fields. CTE programs, as well as vocational programs at community colleges, usually take two years or less to complete and help students to develop skills that can be used in the workplace. Not all careers require an extensive education, but as the BLS has reported, having some type of postsecondary education typically results in higher weekly earnings than having no college classwork at all.
- Government: You might not think 'government' when you think of Hawaii, but there are so many different departments requiring staffing and employment in the state, ranging from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Taxation and the Department of Budget and Finance. On top of that, there are the county governments of Maui, Kaua'i and Hawaii and the city and county government of Honolulu that also employ various personnel. Whether you pursue vocational training or an associate degree in business, computers, office administration or criminal justice, you may be able to build the skills to seek just the right kind of government job in the state.
- Transportation:Visitors arriving to the islands usually come in through Kona International Airport on the west or Hilo International Airport to the east. Others head straight for Honolulu International Airport. Airlines provide a major form of transportation to and around the islands. You might want to consider an education to become a travel agent or even a program to gain skills in business. Completing training to obtain your commercial driver's license (CDL) is another option, which could enable you to drive freight or products to the places they need to go in Hawaii.
- Leisure and hospitality: Whether it's at the Hyatt Regency in Maui or Turtle Bay in Kahuku, hospitality employees help to keep hotels and resorts running and travelers happy. Related vocational programs include training in the culinary field or even work on an associate degree in hospitality and tourism. You might even want to seek business administration or hotel management training to be able to seek employment in one of the various department of a hotel.
Vo-tech education can be a pathway for entering many other fields in the state, too. Whether that's health services, manufacturing, education or finance, there are many CTE and vocational opportunities to explore that could help students to prepare for their future. And though tourism is by far the most visible and largest industry in Hawaii, other business sectors such as health care, construction, energy, financial services and real estate are well-established throughout the state. In fact, according to data from the State of Hawaii, eight of the top 15 largest employers in the state are in health care. These employers include the following:
- Altres Medical
- Kapiolani Medical Center
- Queen's Medical Center
- Hawaii Health Systems Corp.
- Tripler Army Medical Center
- St. Francis Health Care System
- Kaiser Permanente
- Straub Clinic and Hospital
Career info for Hawaii trade school grads
Health care is not the only industry in the state that has openings for individuals with a vocational education. Other major vocational-related sectors include the automotive industry, the culinary arts, construction, manufacturing and facilities maintenance.
In fact, the state of Hawaii has several support programs for individuals seeking vocational training. Examples of these programs include
- First to Work Program: This covers several areas, but for those eligible, the program provides vocational and adult education, job readiness training and skill building.
- Hawaii Job Corps: They offer career and vocational training in several areas such as automotive, landscaping, medical office support, culinary arts, health occupations and more.
Prospective students considering a post-secondary degree or career training program can find a variety of subject areas at the vocational level, from medical transcription to resident care, nursing to physical therapy assisting. Several occupations in the state are expected to see major employment opening growth in the next decade, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov). Here are some examples of what to expect in some of Hawaii's vocational or skilled-trade jobs:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Median Wage|
|Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers||780||66,520|
|Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas||55,000|
|Elevator Installers and Repairers||85,070|
|Paving, Surfacing, and Tamping Equipment Operators||48,250|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||620||71,100|
|Structural Iron and Steel Workers||170||67,930|
Individuals seeking career opportunities in Hawaii may want to consider learning about the benefits of completing a training, certificate or diploma program from a vocational school in the state. With programs that span a spectrum of career areas from welding to massage therapy, catering to HVAC, vocational training in Hawaii has something for everyone.
Financial aid in Hawaii
You can begin to build your postsecondary education by completing the FAFSA student loan paperwork, which is available through the U.S. Department of Education. Completion of this Free Application for Federal Student Aid paperwork determines your eligibility for federal school loans as well as work-study programs and grants. Many statewide and local organizations require completion of FAFSA paperwork as well to better ascertain your level of financial need. Some of the other opportunities available in Hawaii include:
- Office of Hawaiian Affairs Higher Education Scholarship -Students of Hawaiian ancestry who are enrolled in a two-year or four-year school and have a financial need may want to apply for this scholarship.
- Honoulu Scholarship Fund - This is available to qualifying Pacific Islander students who have completed one year of school and then stopped for a year, but are returning to complete a degree.
- Hawai'i Community Foundation Scholarships - You can apply for scholarship funding through the Hawai'i Community Foundation as long as you are a resident of the state who has a financial need and plans to attend either a two-year or four-year college.
- Bureau of Indian Education - Several types of scholarships are available to Native Americans, including those of Hawaiian ancestry. The amounts vary depending on the specific scholarship applied for.
Scholarships and financial aid can be important to helping make CTE and vocational school education in Hawaii more affordable. Tuition and fees vary per state, but The College Board reports that the 2015-26 average in Hawaii was:
- Public two-year schools: $3,664
- Public four-year schools: $10,175
Looking for a school that offers in-state tuition can always be a way to cut down on costs, but there are others ways to minimize expenses, too. These include buying books second-hand or used, working one or more jobs, and even living at home with family or parents. You may discover many other unique ways to save, too, if you choose to work on a postsecondary education and to use vo-tech training to help build a future.
- Departments and Agencies, Hawaii.gov, https://portal.ehawaii.gov/government/departments-and-agencies/
- Employment Projections, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
- Hawaii, Economy at Glance, May 2016, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.hi.htm
- Hawaii Tourism Authority, Visitor Highlights, http://www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/research/research/visitor-highlights/
- Scholarship Opportunities for American Indian Students, Bureau of Indian Education, http://www.bie.edu/ParentsStudents/Grants/
- The Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii,
- Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, http://dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/
- Hawaii, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, http://cca.hawaii.gov/
- Inc., Top Companies in Hawaii on the 2014 Inc. 5000, http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2014/state/hi
- Hawaii Department of Human Services, First to Work Program, http://humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/ftw/
- Hawaii Job Corps Center, http://hawaii.jobcorps.gov/vocations.aspx
- Scholarship Facts, Hawai'I Community Foundation, http://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/scholarships/scholarshipfaqs
- "Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time, The College Board, no date, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-over-time