Ohio, the country's seventh most populated state, is situated in the heart of the nation's waterway and interstate roadways -- making it an important piece of the U.S. industrial sector. The state is home to several major metropolitan areas, led by the Cleveland area, home to over 2 million residents. Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown and Columbus each have populations over 500,000.
Vocational education trends in Ohio
Ohio's economy is diverse, ranging from trade and transportation to those in leisure and hospitality, health care, education and more. There can be many ways to enter these industries, whether that's through a college degree or vocational education. Vo-tech education is available through community colleges, but also from specific types of institutions or organizations, such as a beauty, mechanic or even driving school. A vocational education typically takes two or fewer years to complete -- sometimes a year or less -- and can be more affordable than a bachelor's level program.
- Trade and transportation: This sector has the most people employed in the state, and encompasses entry-level to high-level jobs. Transportation includes infrastructure such as highways and bridges, but also trails and rails and even bus systems, like the four-bus system available in Athens, Ohio to the much larger fleet used in the Greater Cleveland area. You can always train to become a bus driver or head to a community college to work toward obtaining a Commercial Driver's License (CDL.)
- Health services: The BLS has long reported that the Baby Boomer population has increased the need to provide health care services and delivery in the U.S. A variety of assistant and aide positions are popping up to help some of the more day-to-day healthcare tasks be completed. A vocational education could result in opportunities to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or registered nurse (RN), depending on the vocational program completed, but you also can find vocational education to help you learn how to become a physical therapist aide, occupational therapist assistant or even phlebotomist.
- Professional and business services: Whether it's understanding how to send out invoices or how to take payments by credit card over the phone, business professionals are needed to keep business and organizations running on a daily basis. To enter the field, you could consider working on an associate in applied business degree, such as in accounting or business management technology, and later use this to complete a bachelor's level program. You also can work on certificate or diploma programs, too, in fields such as administrative office support, business administration and even real estate pre-licensing.
In short, vocational programs are available in each of Ohio's chief employment areas, such as health care, automotive repair, financial services, communication, computer technology and more. The makeup of Ohio's economy should be attractive, whether you are considering a post-secondary career education or vocational program.
Vocational careers and opportunities in Ohio
Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the state, employing nearly 50,000 individuals. Outside of Wal-Mart, the state is home to several businesses that not only have headquarters in the state, but also employ thousands of people. According to the Ohio Development Services Agency, some of the largest employers in Ohio include:
- Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- Kroger Co.
- Ohio State University
- Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
- Ohio Health
- Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Manufacturing is the state's largest industry, anchored by fabricated metals and the production of transportation equipment. The manufacturing sector accounts for over 670,000 jobs in the state and Ohio is a leading producer of automobiles, electrical equipment, plastics and rubber, trucks and more.
Here's a snapshot of some of the vocational careers in Ohio, with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Median Wage||Projected Employment Change|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||90||31350||3,000|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||570||36590||10,500|
|Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas||410||39450||3,800|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||2390||56420||12,900|
|Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||740||24350||13,200|
|Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||2070||52960||15,700|
|Physical Therapist Aides||890||24070||20,100|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||2550||61770||27,000|
|Home Health Aides||66460||20060||424,200|
|Personal Care Aides||20110||19670||580,800|
With several central business hubs, including Cleveland, Akron, Cincinnati and more, Ohio is well-poised for economic growth during the next decade. The projected growth of manufacturing, transportation, financial services and health care mean individuals considering a vocational education should be positioned for career success as job openings become available.
Financial aid in Ohio
Getting a jumpstart on a career and technical education (CTE) may not be a problem in Ohio, as the Ohio Department of Higher Education reports programming is available in every high school. To continue with your vocational education after high school, you can start by filling out FAFSA paperwork. This is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid that is available through the U.S. Department of Education and can lead to opportunities for work-study programs, grants and financial aid, all to aid you in affording postsecondary education costs. Other financial aid opportunities in Ohio include:
- Ohio College Opportunity Grant - This grant is available to students seeking an associate degree, nurse diploma program or first bachelor's degree at one of the state's public universities, as well as some private or non-profit schools.
- The CollegeAdvantage 529 Program - Even if you are a student, there can be an advantage to using this plan before you start college. Withdrawals made to pay for qualified expenses can be tax-free.
- Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program - Annual loans of up to $1,500 are available to students enrolled in a nurse education program and who plan to become nurses after graduation.
- The Cleveland Foundation - More than 50 scholarships are available through this organization in varying award amounts. Some are geared toward vocational education, and more than $50 million in scholarship funding has been given away since 1987.
It's important to keep in mind the impact that tuition and fees can have on your education, which is why scholarships and other types of financial aid are helpful. Additionally, you may want to do your best to start financial aid and scholarship research early. Talk to lots of people about your goals and look for other ways to save. This can include buying books and materials used, taking a job on campus or elsewhere, and even finding low-cost living arrangements, whether that's sharing space with family, friends, or fellow students. You may quickly discover the many ways to make a diploma, certificate or associate degree program in Ohio affordable.
- Cleveland.com, Ohio Economic News, http://www.cleveland.com/economy/
- Innovation Ohio, Ohio's Low-Wage Recovery, http://innovationohio.org/2014/08/20/ohios-low-wage-recovery/
- Ohio Development Services Agency, Economic Overview of Ohio, http://development.ohio.gov/files/research/E1000.pdf
- Ohio Public Transit Association, no date, http://www.ohiopublictransit.org/
- Projections Central, Ohio Long Term Employment Projections, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- Scholarships, The Cleveland Foundation, no date, https://www.clevelandfoundation.org/scholarships/scholarship-search/?scholarship_name=&scholarship_search=Choose+Alphabetically+Above%2C+or+Type+Scholarship+Name&field_of_study=&gpa=&high_school=&college=Cuyahoga+Community+College&application=&sort=&view=table&search=Search
- State Grants and Scholarships, Ohio Department of Higher Education, https://www.ohiohighered.org/sgs
- "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
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/