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Oregon Vocational and Technical Schools

Having only a high school diploma is not enough to make you competitive in Oregon. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 89.4 percent of persons aged 25 and older between 2009 and 2013 had a high school diploma. With an unemployment rate of just 6.1 percent (as of Aug. 2015) and the state adding over 50,000 jobs in 2014 (a 3.4 percent growth), the job market is competitive. And with a state population of nearly four million, the competition for good jobs is perhaps more fierce than ever.

I see vocational training being a great asset to people. It's a quicker way to get specific experience.

Attending one of the many Oregon vocational schools may be as smart as ever, then. Here's some data and expert advice to give you a sense of what to expect as a student and job-seeker in Oregon.

Vocational education trends and opportunities in Oregon

Oregon doesn't mess around when it comes to education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are over 580,000 students in Oregon and over 1,200 schools. In fact, 60 of those schools are postsecondary institutions. A lot of students in Oregon also opt for a vocational program. In 2010 alone, students in Oregon received:

  • 2,884 certificates that took less than one year
  • 4,494 certificates that took more than a year
  • 9,129 associate degrees

Students in Oregon are studying all sorts of topics at vocational and technical schools. Here are just a few examples, from the NCES, of how many undergraduate certificates were awarded in certain subjects in 2010:

  • Health sciences: 4,062 certificates
  • Manufacturing, construction, repair and transportation: 454 undergraduate certificates
  • Computer and information sciences: 143 certificates
  • Agriculture and natural science: 56 certificates

Careers for graduates of Oregon trade schools

Though Oregon is known for being small and rural, there is still job growth in many vocational sectors there. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many fields in Oregon have seen growth in the last 12 months. Here are some fields in the state and how much growth they've seen in the last 12 months (as of Aug. 2015):

  • Construction: 2.8%
  • Manufacturing: 4.1%
  • Trade, transportation and utilities: 3.3%
  • Information: 5.5%
  • Financial activities: 1.1%
  • Professional & business services: 5.0%
  • Education & health services: 4.2%
  • Leisure & hospitality: 4.0%
  • Government: 2.5%
  • Other services: 1.7%

Graduating from a trade school in Oregon can definitely give an edge in many of these fields. In fact, there are many careers that require either a certificate or associate degree, which technical and vocational schools tend to offer. Even jobs in Oregon that don't require that kind of education, students can gain a competitive advantage by having it.

Here are a few careers in Oregon that require or prefer an associate degree and show extremely strong growth. Growth figures are between 2012 and 2022 and from Projections Central.

Job Title - Associate Degree Required



Physical Therapist Aides



Occupational Therapy Assistants



Paralegal and Legal Assistants



And here are a few careers in Oregon that are projected to have very strong growth, and tend to require some sort of postsecondary non-degree award (such as a certificate):

Job Title - Post-Secondary Non-Degree Award Required



Medical Assistants



Massage Therapists



Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders



Expert advice on vocational education in Oregon with Bart Berry

To get a viewpoint from someone directly responsible for hiring vocational graduates in Oregon, we caught up with Bart Berry. He's a branch manager at DePaul Industries, a staffing agency with offices throughout the state of Oregon (headquartered in Portland). Here's what Berry had to say about vocational education in Oregon.

How do you view a vocational education versus a four-year degree?

I see the benefits of both. But I do work in an environment where I see vocational training being a great asset to people. It's a quicker way to get specific experience. I tend to look at a vocational background when the job is specific because a vocational degree is much more targeted to my clients. That's not always the case with other degrees.

I think people coming from a vocational background are highly-skilled and competent in the field they studied. Graduates of four-year colleges got educated in a variety of areas, not necessarily specific to the job function.

What's your initial response when you see a trade school on a resume?

If I see a vocational background on a resume, instantly I'm thinking, "In that industry, where's a good place for them?" It makes me a little bit more directed in regards to where I want to highlight their skills and showcase their talent -- because their skills are so specific. For that reason, I feel confident when I interview them or place them.

What industries in Oregon are best suited for vocational education?

Our biggest ramp has been in the public sector business. There's been a big increase in public sector jobs and administrative jobs. Manufacturing of course is also doing really well, and government-type jobs have also increased in the number people they've used.

How have you seen vocational graduates fare in Oregon, compared to grads of four-year colleges?

I see that the management companies we work with, in light industrial/labor, tend to lean more toward vocational degree graduates. Though there are some jobs that require a bachelor's degree, vocational education is more reflective of what they do and are looking for.

About the Expert

Bart Berry is a branch manager at DePaul Industries, a staffing agency with offices throughout the state of Oregon.


  1. State & County Quickfacts,United States Census Bureau, Oregon, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045214/41,00
  2. Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aug. 2015, http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
  3. Oregon Economic Summary, State of Oregon, http://www.oregon.gov/DAS/OEA/docs/economic/oregon.pdf
  4. State Education Data Profiles, National Center for Education Statistics, Oregon, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/stateprofiles/sresult.asp?mode=short&s1=41
  5. Career/Technical Education (CTE) Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, 2010, https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ctes/tables/S101.asp
  6. Number of sub baccalaureate certificates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2010, https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ctes/tables/S113.asp
  7. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  8. Oregon Economy at a Glance, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.or.htm
  9. State & County QuickFacts, Oregon, United States Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/41000.html
Vocational Schools in Oregon
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