In today's economy, education is becoming more and more important to our job market. And it's not just four-year degrees. There is a big need for postsecondary education in the workforce, both nationally and in states with large metros like New York.
I feel the biggest benefit of CTE is hands-on training. Our students are more engaged and also have higher graduation rates than general education students.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) is an educational model that can prepare you for those mid-level skill jobs. As an academic pathway, CTE directly connects training to market demand and current industry knowledge, and is available at a variety of institutions, from community colleges to career and technical schools.
Education Trends at New York Trade Schools
Although many people consider a four-year degree to be mandatory, there are many other options for those who want to enter the workforce quickly, or cannot afford to be in school for so long. New York vocational schools might offer associate degree or certification programs that typically last one to two academic years. In New York, the State Department of Education organizes CTE programs into six majors:
- Business and Marketing
- Family and Consumer Sciences
- Health Occupations
- Trade, Technical and Industrial
The New York State Department of Labor expects growth in professions requiring an associate degree. In fact, nearly two-thirds of total job openings in the state will require less than an associate degree for employment. Some of the most common vocational programs of study in this state are:
- Health Care: This is a popular postsecondary choice for students in the state. Though many health care workers have higher degrees, there are a number of nursing positions and clerical jobs that only require an associate degree to start. For example, becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a very common entry-level position in the health care industry. Many nursing schools can offer bridge education programs to help nurses continue their education as they work in the field.
- Business and Marketing: Business degrees are popular because they are so versatile; they can provide entry-level skills for almost any industry, and can be especially helpful for skilled labor workers who want to start their own business someday. While most business degrees are at the bachelor or master's level, technical schools may offer associate degree programs in business, with courses such as math, statistics, economics, communications, social science, computer technology, and more.
- Personal and Culinary Services: This category of major includes a number of personal services such as food services, cosmetology and funeral services, among others. The large metro area of New York City is probably one of the reasons why personal and culinary services are so popular in New York state. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York City will likely be a great place to start off after graduation, and there are a huge number of culinary schools and cosmetology schools in New York City as well.
Other popular vocational degrees in New York include firefighting and protective service, mechanic and repair technologies, homeland security, and law enforcement.
Career Info for Graduates of New York Technical Schools
For students still deciding on a career path, the NY State Department of Labor lists 84 different individual occupations that require an associate degree or less as the minimum educational requirement for employment. And many of those careers are growing. For example, nearly half of those career fields are projected to experience double digit growth, and 12 are on the list of the 20 fastest growing occupations in New York.
The chart below outlines some of the skilled-trade careers in the vocational sector, including recent salary data and employment potential specific to this state.
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics||36,040||39,980|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||5,340||65,550|
|Construction and Building Inspectors||7,250||63,320|
|Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers||13,330||54,410|
|Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||27,550||72,480|
|Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers||8,510||43,310|
Expert Advice on Vocational Education in New York
To get more insight into the role of vocational degree programs, we sat down with Connie Costley, the President-Elect of the New York State Association for Career and Technical Education. The NYSACTE is a state branch of the Association for Career and Technical Education, an organization dedicated to promoting and advancing CTE education in the state.
Connie Costley is the President-Elect of the New York State Association for Career and Technical Education. She has graduated from State University of New York College at Oneonta.
RWM: What are the benefits of career and technical education?
Costley: I feel the biggest benefit of CTE is hands-on training. In CTE, students take general education knowledge and put it to use in real-world settings. CTE students learn by doing, and they are better prepared to go out into the workforce and be successful. This often gives them a big advantage over general education students as they have that "extra" training, knowledge and skill set that others may not. Our students are more engaged and also have higher graduation rates that general education students.
RWM: What should students consider when researching potential CTE programs?
Costley: As I mentioned above, passion is a great place to start, but you still have to make a living. When you are looking for a program, spend time researching the job outlook for careers in that field. Students often make a mistake by not checking out that information. They should have an understanding of what jobs are going to be available and where they are going to be. You may need to be willing to move to find employment after graduating.
RWM: How can a prospective student determine if CTE is the right type of training for them?
Costley: Think about your passion and what you like to do. However, this is not always easy for students to define, so sometimes they need to take a variety of introductory courses to see what they like. The most important thing is to research all options before you decide. Start by looking at career information for that training program: Will you be able to get a job where you want? I also suggest students consider job shadowing. Job shadowing is a great way to see if you like the working environment for that career field.
RWM: In New York, how do employers view CTE and vocational degrees?
Costley: I would say yes. Especially to the employers who hire CTE graduates. They want the students to come to them with the skills they need. I believe all employers want students to come to work with the soft skills needed. So it doesn't matter what field you go into it is good for all students to take some sort of CTE courses because all careers require you to have the skills that we teach so well.
RWM: Are career fields in New York that require CTE training expected to grow?
Costley: Yes, absolutely! According to the state labor employment statistics, there are very few categories that were not directly CTE-related. For many of those categories, students can certainly start at a CTE high school program and continue on to a CTE program outside of high school. All approved CTE programs in NYS offer students articulation agreements with post-secondary institutions. These agreements must offer a direct benefit to the CTE students in the form of college credit or advanced standing. In New York we are expanding many of these offerings at our community colleges.
Financial Aid in New York
Students who are interested in financial aid in New York should first apply to FASFA -- Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is an international scholarship that all students should apply to before looking into other options. Applicants should apply as soon as January 1st, and keep in mind that some scholarships are awarded on a first come, first served basis. Additional New York state financial aid resources include:
- New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) - This is a grant offered to New York residents to help pay for college. The grant does not need to be paid back, and students can be awarded as much as $5,000 per year.
- NYS Aid for Part-time Study (APTS) - This program is also a grant, which does not need to be paid back, and is available for part-time undergraduate students.
- NYS Educational Opportunity Program - This is another grant that provides money for New York residents who are both academically and financially disadvantaged.
- Scholarships from the state of New York - There are many, many scholarships available for students in New York. Do a quick Internet search to find scholarships that are right for you.
- New York State Educational Conference Board, New York students deserve a Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathway to high school graduation, http://www.nyssba.org/clientuploads/nyssba_pdf/ecb-cte-final-2014-102014.pdf
- ACTE, Issue Brief, https://www.acteonline.org/uploadedFiles/Assets_and_Documents/Global/files/Publications/Transitions.pdf
- National Center for Education Statistics, http://www.nces.com/ipeds
- New York State Department of Labor, Analysis of New York State's 2010-2020 Occupational Projections and Wages by Educational Level, https://labor.ny.gov/stats/PDFs/Analysis-of-2010-2020-Occupational-Projections-and-Wages.pdf
- New York State Department of Labor, Fastest Growing Occupations, https://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/demandf.asp?reg=
- New York State Education Department, http://www.nysed.gov/
- Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020, https://cew.georgetown.edu/report/recovery-job-growth-and-education-requirements-through-2020/
- New York State Department of Education, Career & Technical Education, http://www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/
- New York State Department of Education, The State of Career and Technical Education in New York City: 2013-2014, http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/F978F471-B0F0-4D4C-B8A2-0DBC91A68D46/0/StateofCTE_online.pdf