Mechanical drafters, mechanical engineering technicians and massage therapists are just a few of the fastest growing occupations in Connecticut that don't require a four-year degree. Instead, you can land a high-paying job like these with only an associate degree or vocational training.
In fact, 43 percent of good paying jobs in Connecticut are held by those who don't have a bachelor's degree, says Advance CTE, an association of career-technical education directors. The organization defines a good job as one that pays a median income of at least $55,000 and no less than $35,000 for workers younger than age 45.
These good jobs can be found in the manufacturing, health services and financial activities industries among others. However, employment opportunities may vary depending on where you live in the state.
For instance, the Yale New Haven Hospital is the largest employer in New Haven. As a result, health care jobs such as those for medical assistants, physical therapy assistants and respiratory therapists might be most plentiful there. Meanwhile, aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney is the major employer in East Hartford, so that might be a good place to find work as an industrial engineering technician or an aircraft mechanics and service technician.
Why is Connecticut Good for Vocational Schools?
Connecticut has placed an emphasis on promoting vocational training in recent years. The National Skills Coalition says 48 percent of the state's jobs require middle skills, which means workers need some training past high school but not a bachelor's degree. However, only 38 percent of state workers have this level of training.
To address the shortage, technical schools in Connecticut are working closely with state businesses to design programs that have graduates job-ready. What's more, the state has invested considerable money into workforce education, including $50 million for apprenticeship programs. With many high schools now having curriculums to prepare for CTE certification, Connecticut is working hard to create a skilled workforce and now is a great time to consider the state's career colleges.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Connecticut
Financial Aid for Vocational Students in Connecticut
Career schools in Connecticut can be significantly cheaper than other colleges and universities. The annual full-time cost of the state's community colleges is $4,476 for in-state students in 2019-2020, according to The Connecticut State Colleges & Universities. Meanwhile, state universities charge in-state tuition rates of up to $11,846 per year, and that doesn't include room and board charges.
Plus, Connecticut scholarships and grants can help reduce the cost of attendance even further. As part of promoting CTE certification, Connecticut and the federal government have designated money for a variety of assistance programs. For instance, the U.S. Department of Education recently gave the state $25.8 million for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs initiative, which will be used for college scholarships among other things.
To receive financial aid in Connecticut, you'll need to first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It's the form both the government and schools use to make scholarship and grant decisions. We have a financial aid guide that goes into more detail about the FAFSA and how to apply for financial aid in Connecticut.
Here are a few of the programs that may be available to those who apply:
- Roberta B. Willis Need-Merit Scholarship: Available to high-performing Connecticut high school students, these scholarships provide up to $4,650 per year to students enrolled full-time in a two-year program of study.
- Roberta B. Willis Need-Based Grant: Connecticut residents with demonstrated financial need can receive a grant of up to $4,500 per year for full-time enrollment in a two-year program of study.
- CHESLA Loan: This state loan program offers low interest rates to families with a student enrolled at least half-time in a Connecticut public or non-profit private college.
Resources for Vocational Students and Job Seekers in Connecticut
For more information on traditional and online trade schools in Connecticut, visit the following resources.
- The New England Commission of Higher Education is the regional accrediting body for Connecticut institutions, and you can learn more about the accreditation process on its website.
- Visit the Connecticut Office of Higher Education for links to a wide variety of resources about state schools, paying for college, career exploration and more.
- Learn more about the state community colleges by visiting The Connecticut State Colleges & Universitieswebsite.