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Indiana Vocational Schools and Trade Schools

The state of Indiana is one of the country's largest industrial and manufacturing centers, particularly in the fields of automobile assembly, life sciences, steel production, energy and national security, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation reports. Many of the country's top advanced-manufacturing companies are headquartered in Indiana, including Steel Dynamics, ArcelorMittal, Allison Transmission, Rolls-Royce, Roche, Cummins and Toyota. Companies are drawn to the state due to its robust and centrally located transportation network, low business tax rates, favorable business environment and skilled workforce.

Indiana Trade Schools

Education Trends at Trade Schools in Indiana

Students who wish to enter Indiana's workforce may wish to enroll in Indiana vocational schools or Indiana trade schools to prepare to work in one of Indiana's busy sectors. An associate degree can be a quick route to an education, often only requiring two years of coursework and helping students to develop career-ready skills. In Indiana, just 8.59 percent of adults age 25 to 64 hold an associate degree although many more have completed some college, but no degree at all, according to The Lumina Foundation. Diplomas and certificates are other options at community colleges and vo-tech schools.

Below are more details about some of the key employment segments in Indiana:

  • Trade, transportation and utilities: Everyone knows that smart technology and the Internet of things is the current hot tech ticket. These will effect everything from how energy use is monitored in the home to how transportation is utilized, whether that's through energy-efficient buses or self-driving cars. Pursuing an associate degree in applied electronics or learning more about supply chain management could provide different opportunities to hit the career field running.
  • Education and health services: This sector has seen continual growth for the past year and more, increasing from 448,300 employed in the sector just a year ago to 462,200 now. There are many opportunities for two-year degrees at the vocational level, ranging from early childhood care to physical therapy assisting, phlebotomy, medical equipment repairer and even licensed vocational nurse (LVN). These degrees can provide entry-level opportunities in the field with minimal investment education, but also be a launching board to continue on to four-year programs if desired.
  • Manufacturing: Indiana boasts a number of significant manufacturing companies, including Raytheon (defense), Nestle USA, ConAgra Foods, Knauf Insulation, and more. There also are associate degrees in manufacturing that can be pursued, including in industrial and manufacturing engineering (IME), aviation manufacturing, manufacturing production and operations, and others. Some of these, like the IME degree, can be directly rolled into a four-year program, while others already offer students the opportunity to develop career-ready skills.

Career Info for Indiana Vocational School Graduates

Indiana could be a good place to settle down and enter straight into a career, especially if you're already attending trade school in Indiana. The state has a presence in just about every skilled-labor industry imaginable, according to the state's economic development group, including the production of:

  • Rubber
  • Petroleum
  • Transportation equipment
  • Coal products
  • Heavy machinery
  • Batteries

The Calumet region in northwestern Indiana is the largest steel-producing region in the U.S. Steel products are shipped via the Grand Calumet River to Lake Michigan. Additionally, the BLS reports some of the following data for jobs in Indiana:

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics12,59040,640
Brickmasons and Blockmasons1,73050,150
Carpenters13,44041,630
Construction and Building Inspectors1,12047,340
Electricians15,78059,130
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers5,26044,560
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters10,47058,650
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers14,06036,410
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Expert Advice on Vocational Education in Indiana

To learn more about the importance of vocational education in Indiana, we reached out to Bob Landwerlen of J&L Tool in Shelbyville, Indiana. Below, Landwerlen shares his take on vocational education, especially as it relates to the field of manufacturing and machinery.

About the Expert

Bob Landwerlen is a representative of J&L Tool in Shelbyville, Indiana.


RWM: How does your business view vocation educational as opposed to a four-year degree?

Landwerlen: I view vocational education as superior to traditional education for my needs, as this type of education typically involves hands on training with machinery and methods that are used in the "real" world of manufacturing. I don't need or care if my prospective employee knows who the third Czar of Russia was. I need them to be competent in the skills of metal working.

RWM: How can students benefit from attending technical training or trade school?

Landwerlen: There are a lot of high paying jobs that go unfilled due to the lack of qualified workers. The benefit to the student of this type of education is that they learn a skill that is always going to be in demand and job security as well as freedom to move from one region to another without worrying whether their skills will apply to that area. There is a shortage nationwide of these skills.

RWM: What skills do you look for when you hire?

Landwerlen: Basic math (especially geometry), blueprint reading, using measurement devices (micrometers, Vernier's, etc.). Basic understanding of how machines work and the computer skills to program the machines. I also look for good communication skills. A trade school in my opinion can and should teach these basic skills.

RWM: Which industries are best suited for trade school education in your opinion?

Landwerlen: I believe this type of education fits in nearly all industries. The need for technical people from machinists to electricians, plumbers, HVAC, welders, and so on is great. I can't really think of an industry that would not need technical employees as a vital part of their organization.

RWM: Why would someone in Indiana want to attend trade school? What attributes should have a student have before they attend?

Landwerlen: I think the main reason to attend some sort of secondary education is simple -- unless you hit the lottery or inherit a large sum of money you will most likely work for 50 years of your life for a wage. Why not make more money working those 50 years? Beginning students should be open-minded and try to learn not only what is required of them in the curriculum but from what is available for free from the wisdom and experience of others, especially older people in their field of study.

RWM: Do you have any advice for someone hoping to complete a technical degree and work in your field?

Landwerlen: Choose the field that you think will most fulfill you as a person. Who knows you better than you? If you start in one field and find it doesn't fit, most of the basic skills transfer to other jobs. For someone wanting to become a CNC (computer numerical control) machinist I would suggest getting an entry level job in a machine shop and actually run some of the machinery. You will have to start at the bottom quite often but don't look at that as a negative. Once you show an employer what your skills and knowledge can do, they will recognize your value and you will be on your way to a rewarding career. Once you learn a trade, it cannot be taken from you. You have that ability to apply however you wish. A worker who just learns a task can be replaced, perhaps by a robot that you learned to program.

Finding Financial Aid in Indiana

The first step to seeking financial aid in Indiana is filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) paperwork. If eligible for this aid, you can be the recipient of loans, grants or work-study funding coming from the U.S. Department of Education, which is the biggest provider of student financial aid in the country. There al many other options available to students seeking financial aid in the state, too. Some of these Indiana financial aid opportunities include:

  • Indiana Commission for Higher Education - Need-based financial aid awards are given through this state institution. Need is based on information disclosed in the student's FAFSA form as well as other factors.
  • Frank O'Bannon Grant - This need-based grant is awarded to students to apply toward tuition and fees at a public, private or proprietary-based school. Applying students must plan to enroll in college full-time.
  • 21st Century Scholarship - This scholarship covers up to four-years of undergraduate tuition at a public institution or a comparable amount at a private school. Applicants must have at least a 2.5 high school GPA.
  • Minority Teacher Scholarship - Teaching scholarships are available to minority students planning to teach in the state for three years following graduation. Applications should be filled out for the William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship.

The costs for tuition and fees vary in the state depending on where you choose to go to school. However, the College Board reports the following averages for in-state tuition and fees at:

  • Public two-year schools: $4,324
  • Public four-year schools: $9,120

Factors that can help decrease the cost of higher education include applying as an in-state student, attending school close to home, and commuting rather than living on campus. You could also look for as many scholarships as possible, buy used books and other items, and even carpool to school.

Sources:

  1. "Indiana: A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education," The Lumina Foundation, 2012, http://www.in.gov/che/files/IN_-_A_Stronger_Nation.pdf
  2. "Indiana State & County QuickFacts," U.S. Census Bureau, 2016, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/18000.html
  3. Industry Sectors, Indiana State Development Corporation, accessed July 1, 2014, http://iedc.in.gov/indiana-info/industry-sectors
  4. "Indiana Economy at a Glance," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2016, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.in.htm5. "Indianapolis Region: Largest Manufacturers," November 2014, http://indychamber.com/files/2714/1901/2367/Largest_Manufacturers.pdf
  5. "Indiana State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_in.htm7. "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
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