- A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, Massachusetts, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#massachusetts
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MA
- Fastest Growing Occupations, CareerOneStop, Massachusetts, http://acinet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=edu5-6&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=25&ShowAll=
- Interview with Amy Courtheyn of Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools
- Key Industries, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Development, http://www.mass.gov/hed/economic/industries/
- Massachusetts Economic Outlook Report, New England Economic Partnership, October 2014, file:///C:/Users/Holly/Downloads/Massachusetts-Outlook-2014q2-2018q4-Exec-Summary.pdf
- May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Massachusetts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ma.htm
- Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Office of Student Financial Assistance, http://www.mass.edu/osfa/home/home.asp
Massachusetts is well known for the number of prestigious schools located there, mainly in Boston and the surrounding area. But in addition to private universities, the state also has a number of vocational and trade schools, as well as a great economy to support its students.
Residents of Massachusetts have a lot to celebrate when it comes to the state's economy and the overall economic outlook. There is good job growth and a low unemployment rate compared to the rest of the country. Additionally, professional and business services jobs are expected to grow 14.2% in the state through 2018, which is twice as fast as the predicted growth for all jobs combined.
Vocational education trends in Massachusetts
Students who choose to attend Massachusetts vocational schools will find plenty of options to choose from. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the state is home to 201 colleges, universities, trade schools and vocational career centers. Included in that figure are 90 schools that offer bachelor's degree programs, 58 that offer associate degree programs, and 120 that offer certificate programs. Additionally, 66 Massachusetts technical schools focus only on less-than-two-year vocational or career programs.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Economic Development, key industries in the state include:
- Financial Services - Boston is home to a number of large financial institutions, and may see some growth in that industry in the next few years as the economy continues to recover. Students studying financial services may consider earning their degree in business, finance, economics or another related area of study. While many of the execs in the financial industry will have a master's degree or higher, an associate degree or certificate could be a good entry-level credential to start off with.
- Information Technology - This sector is one of the fastest growing in the country. As computer technology continues to advance, new careers will crop up in computers and IT. Massachusetts students may consider a short program in coding, engineering or computer tech, and in fact many employers have said that they prefer to hire students who've been through a rigerous but short training program, as opposed to a four-year degree. This may ensure that the worker may not have bad programming habits, and can be molded to fit the needs of the company right away.
- Maritime Commerce - Since Massachusetts is a coastal state, it's easy to understand why maritime commerce is so important to its economy. This branch of industry covers many different types of jobs, all of which have many different education requirements. You could be part of the ship's crew and go to school to learn about marine vehicles and how to crew a ship. However, as most maritime jobs are becoming automated, it may be more common for students to earn their business degree and learn how to facilitate international trade.
- Renewable Energy - This is a fairly new sector in most states, but in Massachusetts there's a big push for research on renewable energy. Jobs in this sector will rely on heavily scientific backgrounds, and students may consider earning more than an associate degree to go far in this type of research. However, as with most science and technology jobs, there are technicians and technologists who may only require a certificate or associate degree as an entry-level credential. This is a good way to get your foot in the door if you're not sure where you want to focus in clean energy.
Meanwhile, 2014 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the industries with the highest rate of employment in Massachusetts that year. As you will see, several of the industries with the highest level of employment in Massachusetts are vocational in nature:
- Office and administrative support
- Sales and related jobs
- Food preparation and serving
- Management occupations
- Health care practitioners and technicians
- Education and library jobs
- Business and financial operations
Massachusetts vocational schools prepare students for many jobs that fall into these specific industry categories. And with the right education, students interested in pursuing technical and vocational careers will find that anything is possible.
Careers for graduates of Massachusetts trade schools
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop, careers in vocational and technical fields such as health care, construction and the skilled trades are expected to see exceptional growth in the coming years. The following charts highlight some of the technical jobs students of Massachusetts trade schools may want to consider, plus important career details:
Careers that require an associate degree
% Job Growth in Massachusetts (2012 to 2022)
Average Salary in Massachusetts (2014)
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Physical Therapy Assistant
Cardiovascular Technologist or Technician
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Medical Equipment Repairers
Careers that require a postsecondary non-degree award
% Job Growth in Massachusetts (2012 to 2022)
Average Salary in Massachusetts (2014)
Manicurist or Pedicurist
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Expert advice on vocational education with Amy Courtheyn
There are many opportunities for graduates of Massachusetts vocational schools. To learn more about vocational education in general, we reached out to Amy Courtheyn of Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools in Groveport, Ohio.
What are the benefits to trade school?
Technical education and trade schools give students the hard skills required on the job, so they're job-ready. It saves employees time and money after they're hired. In many cases, our students go on to post-secondary education or college and they've already been exposed to the mechanics that their peers have not previously been exposed to. It's that familiarity that allows them to fine tune their education while others are only beginning to grasp the concepts.
What should students look for in a technical program?
Potential students should try to match up their interests, strengths and career goals with the programs we offer. We work with local businesses and industry to respond to the local job markett. It helps students become contributing members of society, while strengthening the communities we serve at the same time.
How does your school prepare students for technical careers?
Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools prepares students for their future with industry-specific lab instruction and real-world experience, including school-to-work programs, job shadowing, internships and volunteer opportunities. It's supported by the academics to put it all in proper context. In addition, students learn the soft skills needed to succeed-resume-writing, job interview skills, etiquette-the things that many of us take for granted but can make or break your chances of getting hired. We also have a fairly strict attendance policy, not unlike what is expected in the workplace, so we try to build a strong work ethic, as well.
How do you think vocational education will change over the next decade?
I think Career & Technical Education is on the upswing and will continue to expand. Now that the job market has begun to rebound, there is more demand for skilled laborers and workers in general. Plus, people are beginning to see that the money they're investing in a four-year or advanced degree doesn't always equal a higher salary or better quality of life.
Amy Courtheyn works for Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools in Groveport, Ohio.
Financial Aid in Massachusetts
Students at Massachusetts vocational schools may be able to find financial aid programs that fit their needs. Most financial aid requires that you've at least graduated from high school or earned a GED equivalent. And many state-sponsored awards also require filling out the FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid - as a base application. FAFSA is a great starting point for seeking out programs that match you best.
Many students start their search on the Massachusetts state government website, or board of education website. There, you'll find a list of the most common awards. You may notice that some of these awards may be small, but applying to many of them can really help the numbers add up. Here are a few well known programs for financial aid in Massachusetts, to get you started:
- MASSGrant - This is a need-based award funded by the state of Massachusetts. Applicants must be residents of Massachusetts, with a high school diploma, and enrolled full-time in a college or postsecondary school in the state.
- Massachusetts Public Service Grant Program - This award was established for students who have lost family members or spouses who were killed in the line of public service duty for the state of Massachusetts. This is one of the only grants you may find that is not based on financial need.
- GEAR UP Scholarship - This is available in most states, and was founded as a way to encourage students to work really hard and maintain a good GPA. Students who apply for this scholarship must also have participated in the Early Intervention component of GEAR UP Massachusetts.
- Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship Program - This scholarship is for students in the more rural parts of Massachusetts, and students who apply must be able to show documentation of their family's financial need. They must also be a full-time student enrolled in a program at a Massachusetts school, and must also be a resident of the state.