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Kentucky Vocational and Technical Schools

Kentucky has a rich economic history built on the backs of agriculture and manufacturing. However, the state has focused on diversifying the economy by expanding business sectors such as the automotive and transportation industries. This investment has paid off in spades as the state produced over 14,000 new jobs and brought in more than $3.3 billion in planned investments to the state in 2013, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

Today, more than 400 international companies have a presence in Kentucky, including shipping giants UPS and DHL, taking advantage of the state's pro-business climate. As the state attracts new businesses and industries such as transportation and automotive continue to expand, the need for a qualified, trained workforce becomes paramount.

Kentucky Employment Data

Vocational Careers in Kentucky

Top Kentucky industries and employers

An October 2014 report from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Develop revealed between January and September 2014, over $2.5 billion in new investments in industrial activity were brought to the state, which are projected to save more than 5,200 jobs and create nearly 8,800 more positions in the coming years. Example investments include the following:





Champion Petfoods USA, Inc.


High end pet food


Hendrickson USA LLC


Fabrication operation


Tower International Inc.


Automotive structural components


Quiver Ventures LLC


Aluminum sheet production

Bowling Green

Intelligrated Inc.


Conveyor equipment and systems


Harbor Steel and Supply Corp


Steel service center


Dart Container Corp of Kentucky


Disposable food service packaging

Horse Cave

GE Appliance Park


Household appliance manufacturing


Wilbert Plastic Services


Plastic products, injection and molding


iHealth Solutions


Medical billing, records and technology


Nearly $300 million of those investments are in the automotive or related industries. Kentucky has long been involved in automotive manufacturing and production, an industry where the state has established itself as a national leader.

The automotive industry employs 82,000 individuals in the state and Kentucky ranked third in the country for light vehicle production numbers in 2013, according to data from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

Toyota, Ford and GM have major assembly, manufacturing and engineering facilities throughout the state. In addition to its production plant, Toyota also has its North American Manufacturing and Engineering Headquarters in Erlanger and North American Parts Logistics Division in Hebron.

Major automotive employers in the state include the following:

  • Toyota (12,051)
  • Ford (8,491)
  • Akebono Brake Industry Co, Ltd. (2,274)
  • Hitachi, Ltd. (2,083)
  • Martinrea International Inc. (1,845)

Indeed, the future looks bright for vocational students considering completing an automotive-related training program, as the state has attracted approximately $4 billion in additional capital investments and created 17,000 new jobs during the past five years.

Vocational careers in Kentucky

Although the automotive industry continues to have a major presence in the state, manufacturing remains a driving force for the economy. Because of the billions being invested into the expansion of manufacturing businesses in Kentucky, the state has placed an emphasis on workforce development, especially in the vocational space.

  • Kentucky Skills Network. Provides funding for employee and worker training, helping build relevant skills in manufacturing, service and technology and more.
  • Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center. Launched in 2013, the career center provides training for individuals seeking careers in manufacturing.
  • Bluegrass Community and Technical College Advanced Manufacturing Center. Part of the Bluegrass Technical and Community college, the manufacturing center partners with manufacturing leaders, such as Toyota, to provide a range of specialized manufacturing training from welding to industrial electricity, machining to robotics.

Below is a list of related vocational-focused careers expected to experience significant employment growth in the state between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov):

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Median WageProjected Employment Change
Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas110350304,800
Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters5602769010,500
Medical Equipment Repairers5303696012,800
Occupational Therapy Assistants5005669012,900
Woodworking Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Except Sawing1460255406,300
Paving, Surfacing, and Tamping Equipment Operators13503512010,800
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers8705827027,000
Physical Therapist Assistants15505215029,300
Home Health Aides397021270424,200
Personal Care Aides889019460580,800
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

Outside of manufacturing, vocational opportunities exist across a range of programs and specializations, including automotive and technology, medicine and health, technology, art and design and more. Prospective students interested in a vocational career in Kentucky should learn how a diploma, continued professional training or a certificate could pave the way to employment opportunities in one of the state's many growing industry areas.


BusinessClimate, Kentucky's Top Employers,

Inc., Top Companies in Kentucky on the 2012 Inc. 5000,

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development,

Kentucky Skills Network,

Kentuckiana Works, Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center,

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky Locations and Expansions Announce, October 2014,

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky Business Climate,

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky is a Driving Force in the U.S. Automotive Industry,

Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Bluegrass Advanced Manufacturing Center,

Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Kentucky ,

Vocational Schools in Kentucky
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