Louisiana can be a great spot to find a job in a variety of industries. The state has a thriving agribusiness sector that is developing specialty foods, and its location along the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico means it's a natural place for water management and energy businesses to be based. Other key industries include automotive, aerospace and manufacturing. In New Orleans, digital media, film and international trade are also significant employers.
Within these sectors, many businesses are hiring people who don't have four-year college degrees. Manufacturing, natural resources and health services are among the Louisiana industries offering good jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree, says Advance CTE, a nonprofit group of career technical education leaders.
Why is Louisiana Good for Vocational Schools?
Whether you're a recent high school graduate or a working adult looking to switch careers, there are plenty of reasons to consider technical schools in Louisiana. For one, the state has shown its support of career technical education at various levels. It is one of 10 states participating in the New Skills for Youth initiative, which is encouraging career readiness through the development of CTE skills.
What's more, there are plenty of good jobs available to those with CTE training. Advance CTE defines a good job as one with a median income of $55,000 and that pays workers younger than 45 no less than $35,000 a year. More than half of these good jobs in Louisiana are held by workers without a bachelor's degree.
Finally, studying at a vocational school is an affordable way to quickly get into the workforce. Rather than spending a fortune on a bachelor's degree with an unclear career path, you could earn a certificate or associate degree in two years or less and graduate with the skills needed for a specific occupation. There are even online trade schools in Louisiana that let you learn from home so you can keep your current job while completing your education.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Louisiana
Financial Aid for Vocational Students in Louisiana
Career and technical schools in Louisiana often represent a good value for students. Tuition rates at two-year schools can be less than what is charged at four-year colleges and universities. Plus, students may be able to avoid room and board charges by attending school at a nearby community college or taking classes online.
There are also a number of Louisiana scholarships and grants that can help offset the cost of a CTE education in the state. During the 2018-2019 school year, the state spent more than $293 million on TOPS Awards and another $28 million on GO Grants, and those are only two examples of the Louisiana grants available.
To be eligible for these and other financial aid programs, you need to start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is commonly known as the FAFSA, and both the government and schools use it to make financial aid decisions. For more about the FAFSA and how to apply for financial aid in Louisiana, check out the RWM Financial Aid Guide.
Here's a closer look at some of the public and private scholarships and grants available for students at trade schools in Louisiana:
- TOPS Tech Award: These Louisiana grants are available to recent high school graduates who enroll in an eligible technical education program. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and an ACT score of at least 17 to qualify. The amount of the award varies by school but tops out at $3,214.15 for the 2019-2020 school year.
- GO Grant: The GO Grant is offered by the state for those with demonstrated financial need. Grant amounts range from $300 to $3,000. You must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for a GO Grant.
- AWS Foundation Scholarship Program: The American Welding Society awards more than $1 million annually to students studying welding technology. Among its awards is a $1,000 Welder Training Scholarship that is given to 25 students each year.
- PTAC Crew HVAC Scholarship: Students planning to enroll in an HVACR program in Louisiana can apply for a $1,500 scholarship from PTAC Crew. One scholarship is awarded annually, and applicants must submit an essay to be considered.
Initiatives for Vocational Students in Louisiana
Louisiana supports its technical students in a number of ways beyond financial aid:
- In Fiscal Year 2019, Louisiana received more than $20 million in Perkins Funds from the federal government to help pay for its CTE programs.
- The Louisiana Legislature included more than $127 million in its 2018-2019 budget for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
Louisiana policies that benefit vocational students
- Louisiana is one of 10 states selected to pilot the New Skills for Youth program. As a participant in the program, the state received $2 million to help it expand and strengthen career education pathways.
- Students at Louisiana's Community and Technical Colleges can participate in SkillsUSA which allows them build confidence and career skills. Participants can attend chapter meetings, conferences and even enter an annual state competition.
School-specific program initiatives in Louisiana
- In July 2019, Louisiana Delta Community College received a $737,103 grant from the Louisiana Community and Technical College System to support its CTE programs. The money will be used for new equipment and technology as well as professional development for instructors.
- Many schools have dual enrollment programs that allow high school students to take college classes early. For instance, South Louisiana Community College has an Early College Academy that blends high school and college coursework.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers
- While individual programs may be accredited by specialized associations, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the main accrediting body for technical schools in Louisiana.
- The Louisiana Board of Regents oversees higher education in the state. On its website, you can find information about financial aid in Louisiana, workforce initiatives and more.
- For links to all the public trade schools in Louisiana, stop by the website for Louisiana's Community and Technical Colleges.
- If you want to explore careers and job opportunities in the state, the Louisiana Workforce Commission website is a good place to start.