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Texas Vocational and Technical Schools

Texas is a great place for students and young people looking to start a career. According to the 2015 Economic Outlook Report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, a convergence of factors are expected to continue building a strong economy in Texas through 2015 and beyond. From 2010 to early 2015, Texas has made financial strides, both in consumer finances and in state budget solvency. Meanwhile, the state's housing sector is experiencing an uptick, with higher prices and a boom in construction growth.

Since 2012 there's been growth in energy, construction and exports, which has strengthened the Texas economy. From 2011 to 2014, industries adding the most jobs in Texas included energy, mining, and natural resources, business services, leisure and hospitality, and trade, transportation and utilities. Further, the Texas Workforce Commission predicts exceptional growth in a number of industries from 2012 - 2022, including some which are vocational or technical in nature:

  • Construction: 24.9%
  • Education and Health Services: 26.6%
  • Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing: 13.2%
  • Electrical Equipment and Appliance Manufacturing: 18.2%
  • Electrical Equipment Manufacturing: 24.3%
  • Ambulatory Health Services: 35.3%
  • Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction: 25.9%
  • Health Care and Social Assistance: 31.6%
  • Home Health Care Services: 39%

Educational trends and opportunities in Texas

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the state of Texas is home to 488 colleges, universities, trade and technical schools, and community colleges. Among them, a full 188 offer degrees and certificates that take less than two years to complete. Another 170 offer two-year associate's degrees that can also lead to vocational careers.

And it appears that vocational education is catching on in the state. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, 20,589 students were awarded with 20,956 degrees or postsecondary certifications from less-than-two-year schools in Texas during the 2011-2012 school year.

But contrary to popular belief, two-year degrees and postsecondary credentials aren't the "runners up" in higher education any longer. In fact, these fast-paced, innovative career training programs can lead to promising, high-paying careers. A report from CollegeMeasures.org even shows that degrees from Texas vocational schools can lead to even better outcomes than Bachelor's degrees - at least right out of school. Here are a few important findings from the report:

  • Associate's degrees in technical fields paid off more than bachelor's degrees in Texas - at least at first. On average, a year after graduation, students with two-year technical degrees reported first-year median earnings of more than $50,000, which was $11,000 more than the state's bachelor's degree holders.
  • Through 2010, vocational and technical associate's degrees paid off more than academic degrees. From 2010 to 2014, graduates with two-year technical degrees earned $30,000 more than graduates with academic-type two-year degrees.

In addition to high pay, technical and vocational students enjoy other benefits compared to students who attend traditional, four-year schools. Quick entry into the force is one of those benefits, since vocational and technical degrees and certifications often take less than two years to complete. Meanwhile tuition and fees at two-year institutions are markedly lower at Texas schools. According to figures from College Board, average tuition for the 2014-15 school year at public two-year schools in Texas was only $2,286. Compared to the average tuition at public four-year schools, $8,830, the potential savings that come with earning a two-year degree or technical certificate are hard to deny.

Employment outlook for graduates of vocational schools in Texas

With vocational and technical degrees leading to exciting outcomes, it's no wonder that so many students are lining up for these programs. With industries like health care, construction, computer science, energy and transportation leading the way in job creation, a degree from technical schools in Texas could be your best investment yet. Among vocational and technical careers, however, some offer more promise than others. The following charts call out a few technical and vocational careers in Texas with not only excellent job prospects, but high pay as well.

Careers that require an associate's degree:


Projected Growth in Texas (2012 to 2022)

Mean Annual Wage in Texas (2014)

Medical Equipment Repairer



Dental Hygienists



Radiation Therapists



Diagnostic Medical Sonographers



Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians



Careers that require a postsecondary non-degree award:


Projected Growth in Texas (2012 to 2022)

Mean Annual Wage in Texas (2014)

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses



Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers



Elevator Installers and Repairers









Expert advice on vocational education in Texas

To gain an insider's perspective on technical and vocational schools in Texas, and their respective degree programs, we reached out to Alicia Strieker, regional director for Manpower.

How do employers view vocational education, as opposed to a four-year degree?

Right now, competition for top talent is fierce, and an individual with the right skills and experience has many options. For some roles, skills and experience are more important than a four-year degree. Beyond that, some of the hardest positions to fill don't require a four-year degree. ManpowerGroup's 2015 Talent Shortage Survey found that skilled trades roles, drivers and technicians are among the top 10 hardest jobs to fill in the United States. While all require licensing, certification or training of some sort, none typically require a four-year degree.

What are the benefits or drawbacks to technical training or trade school?

Technical training programs and trades schools are a critical component of the educational system. They prepare students for career readiness, equipping them with a skill that will help them on a career path. Students need to know that these career paths, from welder to dental technician, offer marketable skills that bring long-term employment security at a time when job security is no longer a guarantee. It's time to remove the stigma and reinvent the image of technical training and associated technical careers. On the practical side, technical and trade school programs usually take less time and money than a four-year degree. However, there is less opportunity to easily shift gears if a student determines their path of study isn't a good fit.

What should students look for when considering a program?

In selecting training, students should look at the longevity of a program, the caliber of the instructors, cost in comparison to similar opportunities in the market, and the job placement rate among graduates. It can also be beneficial to talk with students that have previously completed the program.

Which industries are suited to vocational and technical education?

There are opportunities across many industries. Two of the most popular are manufacturing and healthcare. There are also opportunities in the legal industry, leisure and hospitality, transportation - really almost any industry you can think of.

How does Manpower view vocational or technical education when placing workers with clients?

Workers with vocational or technical education are a real asset for Manpower. That type of credential is appealing to our clients, and it gives the job seeker an edge over other candidates. Not only does it give evidence of a skill, it also demonstrates a person's commitment to learning and achieving goals.

Do you have any advice for someone hoping to enter the workforce through vocational or technical education?

The advice I give to anyone choosing their career path is find the overlap of a career that interests you and a skill that is in-demand and offers long-term employment opportunities and growth.

About the Expert

Alicia Strieker is a regional director for Manpower, an organization for employment and development opportunities.


  1. 2015 Texas Economic Outlook: Strong Growth to Continue, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, San Antonio Branch, http://www.ttara.org/files/document/file-5447e9b0cb5a7.pdf
  2. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
  3. Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates of Texas Public Colleges and Universities, CollegeMeasures.org, http://collegemeasures.org/post/2013/05/The-Initial-Earnings-of-Graduates-of-Texas-Public-Colleges-and-Universities.aspx
  4. Interview with Alicia Strieker, Regional Director of Manpower, July 8, 2015
  5. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  6. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tx.htm
  7. Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-12, Web Tables, U.S. Department of Education, March 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014033.pdf
  8. Projections - Industry, Texas Workforce Commission, http://www.tracer2.com/cgi/dataanalysis/indPrjReport.asp?menuchoice=indprj
  9. Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time
Vocational Schools in Texas
Results:  10
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