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Michigan Vocational and Technical Colleges

Department of Education - Michigan
Article Sources
  • State & County Quickfacts,United States Census Bureau, Michigan,
  • Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Michigan,
  • Economy at a Glance, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan, 2015,
  • "Which states Have the Most Growth Since the Recession?", The Pew Charitable Trusts, Jake Grovum, May 13, 2015,
  • Educational Attainment & Job Market Success, Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, Jason Palmer,
  • State Education Data Profiles, National Center for Education Statistics, Michigan, 2012-2013,
  • "Business Leaders' insights: How Higher Education Can Make Michigan Become a Top Ten State," Business Leadership for Michigan, February 4, 2015,
  • Career/Technical Education Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, 2010,
  • Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central,

The state of Michigan is one that's weathered many economic and industrial storms, and like most of these states now, it's headed toward recovery. Students here may see a cost of living that's much more affordable than other places in the country. And attending one of the many Michigan trade schools or technical schools may be a wise decision, as the job market is becoming more competitive across the U.S. 

Expert Insight

"In Michigan I see a specific need in the industries of software development, manufacturing, various production sectors and in health care. Really any growing industries, I see a huge need." Read the full interview with Phil Santer from Ann Arbor SPARK

Trends at Vocational Schools in Michigan

Education is taken quite seriously in this state. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are nearly one million students who attend school here, and 107 postsecondary institutions available. Many of these students have been flocking to technical schools here, and typically, the associate degree is the most popular vocational degree type, followed by certifications that take one year or less.

Additionally, Business Leaders of Michigan ranked the state 26th in technical degrees and certificates in technical skills. The most popular vocational field of study was by far health sciences with the most students earning certificates and associate degrees in this area. Here's a look at some of the popular vocational career options for students in this state:

Career Info for Michigan Trade School Graduates

Vocational graduates in Michigan have a lot of career options, and usually graduates of vocational schools here fare well in today's economy, compared to those with no formal education. According to data from the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, employment options may be better for those with vocational training or an associate degree.

While a bachelor's degree may be the norm, there are a number of growing careers in Michigan that don't require a four-year degree. Additionally, many industries may only require a certificate or an associate degree. Here are just a few careers that are popular in terms of vocational education, as well as some salary data and employment data specific to this state:

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean WageProjected Number of New Jobs
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics19,36042,220N/A
Brickmasons and Blockmasons2,11052,710N/A
Construction and Building Inspectors2,39054,080N/A
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers9,10049,030N/A
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters11,95061,620N/A
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers13,41039,670N/A
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (

Expert Advice on Vocational Education in Michigan

For advice and information on vocational education and the job market in Michigan, we caught up with Phil Santer. He's the vice president of business development at Ann Arbor SPARK, a company that works with businesses, in Ann Arbor and other areas of Michigan to help grow, invest and create jobs in the state.

About The Expert
Phil Santer is the vice president of business development at Ann Arbor SPARK.

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

Businesses are going to need all types off skill-sets. They'll need not only people who have gone to a four-year college, but also those who are able to demonstrate a skill. I think the workforce is becoming increasingly skill-based and you need to be able to demonstrate you can do specific work and to also demonstrate that you can learn new skill-sets.

How do vocational graduates fare in Michigan, compared to graduates of four-year colleges?

You get a much better understanding of how a business operates when you get an understanding from a vocational standpoint. If you're willing to invest time in an organization and to learn how it ticks, you're going to be successful in moving up in that organization and will have a better understanding of how it works.

What industries in Michigan fit best with vocational education?

I see a need in all different sectors. We have lots of discussions related to it, and I see a specific need in the industries of software development, manufacturing, various production sectors and in health care. Really any growing industries, I see a huge need. I can't see why a company wouldn't want to have those types of skill-sets available.

When looking at resumes, what's your initial response when you see that someone went to a trade school instead of a four-year college? What do you assume about what they have to offer?

I view it as having a knowledge-base within a specific area. If there's a need in an organization for that skill-set, I think that's going to be a benefit to your resume. What I then ask is: How can you apply that knowledge and demonstrate those skills? I think what an organization deals with is going to change over time, and a vocational education shows you understand and possess technical skills, but also have the ability to learn future skill-types.

Financial Aid in Michigan

Students should certainly consider seeking out financial aid to help pay for college, even if it’s a short certificate program. In most cases, it’s suggested to fill out the FAFSA – Federal Application for Federal Student Aid – and you can use your FAFSA application to apply for many other scholarships and grants.

It’s also recommended to research the state scholarships available in your state. Here are a few examples of Michigan financial aid programs that you may consider:

  • Michigan Competitive Scholarship (MCS): This award is for students who show academic promise, and they must be attending a postsecondary program at a Michigan school. Students are required to show financial need, as well as good academic standing.
  • Michigan GEAR UP (MI-GEAR UP): “GEAR UP” stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, and was created for supporting low-income students in their transition to higher education.
  • The Michigan Tuition Grant (MTG): This grant was created specifically for students who plan to attend colleges in the state that are Independent, non-profit, degree-granting schools.
  • Tuition Incentive Program (TIP): This program was created to help incentivize students to finish high school and continue on to college or university. Students who are eligible must be enrolled in a college program toward an associate degree or certificate at a Michigan institution.
Article Sources
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