Whether it's the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, a wine industry that is in full growth, or its more than 6,100 known caves, Missouri offers plenty of opportunities for fun and exploration. It also provides opportunities for education, too. In fact, a "Big Goal" has been set by the Missouri Department of Higher Education to ensure that 60 percent of adults living there obtain a degree or a certificate by 2025. Why is this so important? The department estimates that by 2018 60 percent of all jobs in the state will require workers with some type of higher education, whether that's an undergraduate or graduate degree, or even vo-tech or community college training. Fortunately, trade schools in Missouri offer many options to those interested in career-focused learning and an ability to quickly seek a job in the workplace.
Vocational education opportunities in Missouri
Vo-tech or career and technical education programs often require two years of schooling or less. Diploma programs may be six to nine months or shorter while certificates may take anywhere from nine months to a year-and-a-half to complete. For the 2015-16 academic year alone, some 19,821 students graduated with an associate degree in the state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The sectors that they could enter vary, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that some of the largest in the state are: trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; manufacturing; leisure and hospitality, and others. A quick look at postsecondary educational opportunities in three of these sectors is provided below.
- Manufacturing: It doesn't take membership in the Missouri Association of Manufacturers to know that there are sundry types of manufacturers in the state, and they could be working in steel, sports, décor, bath products, candles or even garden art. Manufacturing is a serious business, though, and requires knowing about operations and processes as well as how to make things relevant to a specific field. A certificate in milling, lathing, welding or auto robotics from one of the Missouri vocational schools could align with career goals as could an associate degree in manufacturing engineering technology or computer-aided manufacturing.
- Health Services: To meet the needs of the aging Baby Boomer generation, many new workers are needed across the country to assist doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in providing care. Certificates or associate degrees in Missouri can be found in fields as diverse as Health and Medical Administrative Services, Dental Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, Vocational Nursing, Surgical Technology and others. Some of these programs are even available online.
- Hospitality: It may come as no surprise that Branson, Mo., is the top tour bus destination in the entire nation. It boasts more than 50 live performance theaters, including The White House Theatre and The Welk Theater at the Welk Resort. With approximately 35,000 restaurant seats and 16,500 lodging rooms, employment in this city (or elsewhere) could be right for anyone pursuing postsecondary training in Missouri in the culinary field or hotel management. These types of programs may even be useful to continuing on to related bachelor's degrees.
Careers for Missouri trade school grads
According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, manufacturing was one of the largest industry subsectors that grew both in number and percentage in 2015, resulting in the addition of 5,000 new jobs. Professional and business service jobs also saw growth as did leisure and hospitality and educational and health services. However, production occupations take many of the top spots among the state's fastest growing occupations.
Below is a sample of the annual mean wages for jobs in Missouri, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Median Wage|
|Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks||5000||40530|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||4540||56180|
|Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents||4570||58990|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||6230||120260|
|Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations||16010||53870|
A look at this list of occupations shows high career growth for metal and plastic computer-controlled machine tool operators, personal care aides, structural metal manufacturers and fitters, millrights, preschool teachers, and aircraft mechanics and service technicians. Home health aides, occupational therapy assistants, and machinists also are among those in the fastest-growing occupations. While there are some jobs posted that require advanced degrees or education, many of those occupations experiencing the fastest growth in the state require just some postsecondary learning, often in the form of a diploma, certificate or associate degree.
Financial Aid in Missouri
Finding financial aid resources in Missouri can be important, particularly since the in-state tuition and fees there to attend a public two-year school now average more than $3,000. To find out what kind of aid they might quality for, students can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) paperwork, available through the U.S. Department of Education. They will need to have their financial information on hand. If they are a dependent, their parents or caregivers will need to provide their financial information in lieu. Students may find they are eligible for loans with set interest rates, grants or even work-study programs as a result of filling out the FAFSA. Some of the other financial aid options in Missouri include the:
- A+ Scholarship Program: This scholarship is available to those who are interested in pursuing education at a vocational or technical school, public community college, or some private two-year schools. Eligible students may be able to receive some tuition reimbursement.
- Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program: Students in financial need may be eligible for this program, which typically awards between $300 and $1,300 a year for those who enroll in a public two-year college.
- Health Profession Student Nursing Loan: This loan is available to nursing students in Missouri who are working toward becoming a license practical or professional nurse. For licensed practical nurse (LPN) students, loan amounts are available up to $2,500.
- Post Secondary Educational Opportunities for Foster and Alumni Foster Youth: Individuals raised in foster care in the state may be able to receive of up to $5,000 annually to help pay their tuition and fees and other costs associated with postsecondary education.
The true value of a postsecondary education could show through in pay, though, as well as enjoyment -- the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those with an associate degree or some type of college coursework typically have higher median weekly earnings than those with a high-school diploma. Missouri vocational schools could be a good way then to help students achieve their goals and make steps toward a desired career.
- A Few Interesting Facts about Missouri, Missouri Department of Economic Development, no date. https://industry.visitmo.com/plannersandgroupoperators/escortnotes/funthingsyoudidntknowaboutmissouri.aspx
- "Are you ready for a job in computer-aided manufacturing?" St. Louis Community College, no date. http://cte.stlcc.edu/computer-integrated-manufacturing/
- Branson Fun Facts, Did you Know This about Branson?, Branson.com, no date. http://www.branson.com/learn/general-branson-info/branson-facts/
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- Earnings and unemployment states by educational attainment, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 15, 2016. http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
- Grants and Scholarships, Missouri Department of Higher Education, no date. http://dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/
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- Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Department of Engineering Technology, Western Missouri, no date. https://www.missouriwestern.edu/engtech/manufacturing-engineering-technology/
- Missouri, Economy at a Glance, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 8, 2016. http://www.branson.com/learn/general-branson-info/branson-facts/
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- 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