Mississippi is a great place for students, with a low cost of living, affordable real estate and low taxes. According to the Mississippi Development Authority, an array of new tax advantages have also been created to convince new and existing organizations to call Mississippi home.
As if that weren't enough, Mississippi also boasts the #1 community college system in the nation according to WalletHub. Students who choose to attend Mississippi vocational schools will find no shortage of options.
Vocational education trends in Mississippi
Students at Mississippi technical schools will find an array of vocational and hands-on training programs to help them launch their careers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the state is home to 65 colleges, universities, and Mississippi trade schools.
Included in that figure are 18 schools that offer bachelor's degree programs, 29 that let students pursue associate degrees, and 42 that offer certificate programs. A total of 12 Mississippi vocational schools round out the state's programs to offer degrees and training that may take less than two years to complete.
According to the Mississippi Development Authority, a lot of the state's employment and growth can be attributed to a few key industries:
- Advanced Manufacturing - Jobs in the manufacturing sector tend to be in factories, mills, power plants or other places that produce goods. In this field, on-the-job training is critical, while earning a degree or certification(s) can really boost your knowledge and help you enter the workplace better prepared. Some jobs may require certifications or a higher degree. Your training may involve lots of hands-on practice using large machinery and equipment.
- Aerospace - The field of aerospace engineering is typically known to require advanced degrees and many years of study. However, aerospace engineering and operations technicians can start at the entry-level with an associate degree in engineering technology. In some cases, certification may also be required, or it can be used as an alternative to an associate degree. The engineering field is one that's been adapting to a model of technical training for its employees, and steering away from the traditional four-year degree. However, if you're considering management or position higher than a technician, a bachelor's degree would be recommended.
- Agribusiness - Though Mississippi is not the largest or most important hub of agribusiness, it's still a large player in terms of salary and job availability, according to BLS data. Jobs in this sector include farmers, ranchers, and other types of agricultural managers. Though a higher degree is not typically required for this type of work, the BLS recommends earning an associate degree in agriculture or a related field. This could be particularly usefull if you're thinking of a management position.
- Automotive - Mississippi could be a good place to get trained in automotive services. These jobs include auto service technicians, body/glass repairers, diesel technicians and more. Most auto technician jobs require some type of training at a trade school or technical college. Some programs take less than a year to complete, and will prepare you with lots of hands-on practice. But in other cases, you may consider earning an associate degree.
Other popular vocational paths in Mississippi include energy and health care. The health care industry is fairly popular throughout the U.S. because of the high demand for health care workers, especially nurses and technicians.
Careers for Graduates of Mississippi Technical Schools
Depending on your educational goals, it's possible that Mississippi vocational schools might offer the exact program you need. And with the right training, anything is possible.
Now that you know which industries in Mississippi offer the highest rates of employment and what kind of salary to expect, it's time to hone in on specific career opportunities in the state. Using data from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop, we looked for any information that might indicate which careers might feature exceptional pay and growth in Mississippi in the coming years.
The following chart highlights some of the technical and vocational careers with the best prospects in Mississippi, along with relevant wage and employment data:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Median Wage|
|Respiratory Therapy Technicians||320||48300|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologists||240||67570|
|Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||450||35560|
|Physical Therapist Aides||400|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||610||61050|
|Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics||2120||33850|
|Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians||1650||34800|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||890||50820|
|Home Health Aides||8120||21720|
Expert Advice on Vocational Education for Students of Mississippi Technical Schools
To learn more about technical education and how it helps young people enter the workforce and begin thriving careers, we reached out to an employer who hires technical workers on a regular basis. Please enjoy this expert advice from Katherine Dayton, Director of VISIONS Service Adventures.
How do employers view vocational education, as opposed to a four-year degree?
We are becoming more & more open to applicants who have vocational training instead of four-year degrees, especially if they've chosen the path mindfully and have acquired real, working skills. Our main interest is that people have the skills to do the job, that they have real-life and real-world experiences, they are hard-working and good decision-makers, and that they fit with our culture.
What are the benefits and drawbacks to technical training or trade school?
Benefits include learning real skills, and specific, useful skills. The drawbacks could be missing out on some of the broader learning that you might get from a Liberal Arts education, for example. But so much relies on one's own intellectual pursuits.
How would you describe your organization's role in the local community and economy?
Our role: We hire a lot of summer leaders, many who come from our local community. A lot of the communities that we serve are the places where we run international and domestic community service programs for teens.
What advice would you give someone considering trade school?
Do something that is going to hold your interest for several years, if not more, and where you can really see throwing yourself into it with enthusiasm. At the same time, remember that many jobs and professions don't seem that appealing "on paper," and that much of it comes down to jumping in, working your best to be proficient, and gradually becoming expert with a skillset or trade… that learning process and that excelling process are what really make a career and a trade interesting.
Katherine Dayton is the Director of VISIONS Service Adventures.
Financial Aid in Mississippi
Seeking out financial aid is a big part of applying to college. Even if you're only considering a vocational or technical education in Mississippi, there are usually many options for students. We recommend starting off with the FAFSA -- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a federal program whose application is often used for other scholarships, grants and awards. Visit their website to fill out your application and find more information.
Next, it may be a good idea to research financial aid in Mississippi state specifically. There are many specialized awards that are specific to Mississippi residents and students who are attending school at Mississippi colleges. A good place to look would be the state board of education website. Here are a few examples of awards that you may consider:
- Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students Grant (HELP) - This award is for Mississippi residents in low-income families, and who must also meet some academic requirements. The award is need-based, meaning you must have a family income below a certain threshold in order to qualify.
- Mississippi Resident Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG) - For Mississippi residents specifically, this award also has some requirements to be sure you're in good academic standing, and you must be a first-time college student.
- Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer and Firemen Scholarship (LAW) - If you have a family member who was a police officer or firefighter who was injured in the line of duty, you should definitely consider applying to this award. This is a full scholarship that would fund your tuition and fees for up to 8 semesters.
- Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG) - This is a grant for students in great academic standing, typically requiring at least a 3.5 GPA or higher. You must also be a resident of Mississippi and be attending a college in the state.
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Fastest Growing Occupations, Career One Stop, Mississippi, http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu4&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&ShowAll=&stfips=28
- May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mississippi, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ms.htm
- Rankings, Mississippi Development Authority, https://www.mississippi.org/rankings/