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New York Vocational and Technical Schools

In today's increasingly competitive economy, education is becoming hugely important to our job market. And it's not just four-year degrees. Employment projections confirm the need for postsecondary education in the workforce, both nationally and in states with large metros like New York. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, between 2014 and 2020 the country will see 55 million job openings and 66 percent of those positions will require education beyond high school. The employment trends in New York align closely with national projections. By 2020, the state could actually have a deficit of 350,000 mid-level skill jobs, which require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor's degree.

I feel the biggest benefit of CTE is hands-on learning... Our students are more engaged and also have higher graduation rates that general education students.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is an educational model that can prepare graduates for those growing mid-level skills 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.

Vocational education trends in New York

According to a review of 2013 postsecondary graduation data in New York, the associate degree was the most popular degree option among students, followed by certificate and diploma programs (programs lasting at least 1 year, but less than 2 academic years). In 2013 alone, nearly 100,000 students graduated with academic awards less than a bachelor's degree. Of those academic awards, some of the most common vocational programs of study included:

  • Health care: 27,569 degrees
  • Business and marketing: 12,927 degrees
  • Personal and culinary services: 8,843 degrees
  • Homeland security: n/a
  • Law enforcement: n/a
  • Firefighting and protective services: 4,960 degrees
  • Mechanic and repair technologies: 3,002 degrees

Of the projected 300,000 annual openings in New York between 2010 and 2020, the NY State Department of Labor expects the greatest growth to be in professions requiring an associate degree (14.7%). In fact, nearly two-thirds of total job openings in the state will require less than an associate degree for employment.

Employment opportunities for graduates of New York technical schools

In New York, the State Department of Education organizes CTE programs into six majors: Agriculture; Business and Marketing; Family and Consumer Sciences; Health Occupations; Trade, Technical and Industrial; and Technology. That group of majors dovetails nicely with some of the industries expecting to see the largest employment growth between 2010 and 2020 in the state:

  • Accommodation and Food Services: 24.6%
  • Professional and Business Services: 23%
  • Health Care and Social Assistance: 20.8%
  • Construction: 18.4%
  • Transportation and Warehousing: 7.2%
  • Agriculture: 7%

For students still entertaining which career path to consider, 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, those careers are growing. For example, 50 percent 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 careers expected to have the fastest employment gains between 2012 and 2022:


Percent Growth

Median Salary

Educational Requirement

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers



Associate degree

Skincare Specialists



Postsecondary non-degree award

Physical Therapist Assistants



Associate degree

Environmental Engineering Technicians



Associate degree

Ophthalmic Medical Technicians



Postsecondary non-degree award

Medical Assistants



Postsecondary non-degree award

Web Developers



Associate degree

Radiation Therapists



Associate degree

Occupational Therapy Assistants



Associate degree

Medical Equipment Repairers



Associate degree

Source: New York State Department of Labor, 2015

Indeed, health care is one of the top industries for students interested in a career and technical education. Of the list above, 70 percent of the careers are in the health care industry, and many of those occupations give students the opportunity to complete training in two or less years -- such as registered nurse, nursing assistant and home health aide. A review of the top 30 middle-skills jobs expected to have the largest number of projected job gains between 2012 and 2022 revealed that 53 percent are in health care.


Net Growth

Educational Requirement

Registered Nurses


Associate degree

Nursing Assistants


Postsecondary non-degree award

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses


Postsecondary non-degree award

Medical Assistants


Postsecondary non-degree award

Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics


Postsecondary non-degree award

Dental Assistants


Postsecondary non-degree award

Dental Hygienists


Associate degree

Radiologic Technologists


Associate degree

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians


Associate degree

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers


Associate degree

Expert advice on technical education in New York

To get more insight into the role of vocational degree programs in New York, 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 New York.

What are the benefits of career and technical education?

I feel the biggest benefit of CTE is hands-on learning. 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.

What should students consider when researching potential CTE programs?

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.

How can a prospective student determine if CTE is the right type of training for them?

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.

In New York, how do employers view CTE and vocational degrees? Are they viewed in a positive light?

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.

Are career fields in New York that require CTE training expected to grow well into the future?

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.

About the Expert

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.


  1. 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
  2. ACTE, Issue Brief, https://www.acteonline.org/uploadedFiles/Assets_and_Documents/Global/files/Publications/Transitions.pdf
  3. National Center for Education Statistics, http://www.nces.com/ipeds
  4. 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
  5. New York State Department of Labor, Fastest Growing Occupations, https://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/demandf.asp?reg=
  6. New York State Education Department, http://www.nysed.gov/
  7. 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/
  8. New York State Department of Education, Career & Technical Education, http://www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/
  9. 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
Vocational Schools in New York
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