Vocational education is like career training, and typically includes programs under four years, preparing students for direct entry into a specific trade with hands-on learning. Students who are exploring New Jersey trade schools will find a number of community college and training centers that offer programs in specialized trades or vocations. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics lists a total of 168 places of higher education in the state, and many offer vocational-type programs such as postsecondary training and non-degree options.
Trends at New Jersey Vocational Schools
When it comes to the future of employment in the state, many industries that require skilled technical workers are expected to see a larger number of job openings than average. According to the state of New Jersey, key industries in the state currently include:
- Bio/pharmaceuticals and life sciences
- Logistics and distribution
- Advanced manufacturing
- Health care
- Leisure and hospitality
- Green technology
The New Jersey's Department of Labor lists the following vocational and technical industries as popular, with potential for growth:
- Health Care Support - Health care vocational programs tend to be the most popular because health care is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. Health care support careers include nursing, medical technicians and administrators, and these positions typically require an associate degree or certification.
- Construction - The field of construction includes many different trades, and construction schools in New Jersey should be able to offer specialized programs depending on what you'd like to do. Options might include carpentry, boilermaking, welding, electrical work, masonry, roofing, and much more. Since many construction workers can start with just a high school diploma, earning an additional certification or degree could improve your chances and opportunities for employment.
- Computers and IT - Computer technology is an up and coming industry that's typically right behind health care in terms of growth. And it's one of the leading industries to adapt vocational training as a strong substitute for a four-year degree. From "coding boot-camp" to free online courses, vocational education in computer technology is readily available. New Jersey vocational schools may have programs for IT and coding, but you may find better opportunities going through specialty programs like coding boot-camp, or courses and certifications offered by large companies.
Employment in New Jersey Trade School Grads
Since vocational employment is expected to surge in New Jersey, an investment in a degree program at any one of the technical schools in New Jersey could be a great way to jump-start your career. According to every indication and government source out there, industries like health care, construction, computer science, and the skilled trades are expected to surge in the coming years. The following charts illustrate some of the technical jobs in New Jersey with current salary information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Civil Engineering Technicians||1000||54100|
|Real Estate Sales Agents||2500||59610|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||3690||58200|
|Advertising Sales Agents||2100||70640|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||7090||57220|
|Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers||22810||89160|
Expert Advice on Vocational Education in New Jersey
With vocational education options in the state of New Jersey, we wanted to reach out to an expert in the field to get their take on short-term, vocational degrees. As a result, we contacted Rodrigo Levy from CodePlatoon.org, a coding boot camp aimed at preparing veterans for technical careers in computer coding.
Rodrigo Levy is an Executive Director at CodePlatoon.org, a coding boot camp aimed at preparing veterans for technical careers in computer coding.
RWM: How do employers view vocational education in New Jersey?
Levy: It depends on the employer, of course. We find that younger companies (10 years old or less) are very receptive to hiring software developers who have come out of four-month training programs or coding boot camps. Older and larger organizations are sometimes still focused on hiring developers who have a four-year degree in computer science. That said, many older and larger organizations are creating software teams within their organization that actually resemble newer technology teams, and are open to hiring coding boot camp graduates.
RWM: What are the pros and cons of trade school?
- Pros: much less expensive (Code Platoon is $1,500 for veterans, most others range from $8,000 to $18,000), much quicker (three to six months typically) and competitive placement rates, compared with four-year programs. And you learn the 'how-to' of programming.
- Cons: still some resistance from some employers to hire developers who lack a four-year degree. You learn less of the deeper 'why' of programming, and don't get a deep foundation on some computer science principles
RWM: What should students look for in a vocational program?
RWM: How can quick entry into the workforce benefit students?
Levy: Computer programming really requires continual learning, no matter what your initial training, so the sooner you start working, the sooner you are getting paid to learn, instead of paying to learn. The same can be said about any vocational or technical career.
RWM: What kind of student is your specific program geared toward?
Levy: Code Platoon is looking for candidates who are smart, deeply interested in software, and willing to work hard. All three characteristics are required. No math or science background is required, contrary to popular belief.
Financial Aid in New Jersey
There are many different types of state and federal aid. All students should start by applying to FAFSA -- Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Most people apply for FAFSA at the beginning of the year, and they recommend applying as early as possible. After that, there are typically hundreds of different types of state grants, awards, scholarships and loans to apply for. Here are some resources for financial aid in New Jersey:
- Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESSA) - This is a great place to start finding financial aid opportunities in the state of New Jersey.
- NJCLASS - This is a student loan program by the state of New Jersey. Loans do need to be paid back over time, so be careful and make sure you can make all payments on time.
- NJ TAG - This is a state-funded grant for New Jersey residents.
- NJ STARS - This is a state-funded scholarship program
Visit the official website for the State of New Jersey to find out more information on applying for grants, scholarships and other types of financial aid.
- A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, New Jersey, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#new-jersey
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Interview with Rodrigo Levy, July 7, 2015,
- Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Jersey, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nj.htm
- New Jersey Key Industry Clusters, State of New Jersey, http://www.state.nj.us/state/planning/docs/dfplan_industrysectors.pdf
- State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, https://lwd.state.nj.us/labor/lpa/employ/indoccpj/st_index.html