At the far northeastern tip of the United States, Maine is more than rugged coastal beauty. The Pine Tree State is home to numerous colleges and universities. The University of Maine and the Maine Community College System provide four-year and two-year degrees; there are also many private schools, trade schools and vocational schools to prepare students for the Maine workforce. Here's what aspiring students need to know about earning their education through colleges and trade schools in Maine.
Vocational education trends and opportunities in Maine
Maine vocational and trade schools aim to educate students who intend to jump right into the workforce upon graduation. The most popular fields typically include health sciences, consumer services, business management and manufacturing. Here are some of Maine's in-demand occupations that can result from pursuing a vocational school education:
- Registered nurse - An associate degree can open the door to nursing. Nurses work in hospitals, offices of physicians, outpatient care centers, nursing homes and more.
- Teacher assistant - Most states require teaching assistants to earn an associate degree, though some will accept those who have earned a certificate. Working with special needs might require more in-depth training.
- Paralegal - An associate degree allows graduates to enter this exciting and fast-moving profession. Paralegals might work for a wide variety of legal entities, from small firms to large corporations.
- HVAC mechanic - A certificate is the key to this fast-growing field, where graduates learn the ropes through apprenticeship programs that provide hands-on training.
Careers for Maine trade school grads
Of those who graduate from trade schools in Maine, some may choose to stay in the state and work there. According to Maine's Center for Workforce Research and Information, employment for registered nurses, teacher assistants, truck drivers, licensed practical nurses, HVAC mechanics, dental hygienists and paralegals are all expected to grow through 2022.
Here's a look at what to expect from Maine jobs in some popular sectors:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Median Wage||Projected Number of New Jobs|
|Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians||130||51,510||N/A|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||560||48,780||N/A|
|Computer User Support Specialists||2,060||49,780||N/A|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||1,330||48,260||N/A|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Maine has weathered the economic downturn relatively well, with unemployment rates dropping steadily. Those rates have stayed consistently lower than the national average. Those with skilled work experience or education, such as those who graduate from vocational and trade schools in Maine, are poised to move into any number of in-demand jobs in the state. Some possible options can be found in Maine's industries, including healthcare services, manufacturing of paper and wood products, agriculture, tourism and naval shipbuilding.
Expert advice on vocational education in Maine
To get more information about vocational education and trade school career paths in Maine, we spoke with Hajmil (Haj) Carr, the founder and CEO of TrueLine Publishing. His company is a B2B digital publishing and custom media-marketing firm headquartered in Portland, ME.
Hajmil Carr is the founder and CEO of TrueLine Publishing.
Q. How does TrueLine Publishing view vocational education, as opposed to a four-year degree?
A. We view education in the more traditional sense of what it was intended to do: teach people to learn. If someone is educated as a skilled welder or as a liberal arts writing major it really makes no difference to us. What matters is whether the person excelled at whatever it was that they pursued and if they are comfortable learning new things. We do not subscribe to the assembly line model of people being "specialists" and trained to do or think a certain way. We are interested in hiring capable smart people who are passionate about life regardless how they were educated.
Q. What are the benefits or drawbacks to hiring someone out of technical training or trade school?
A. Benefits: if they are a winner or excelled in their technical school then they are more likely to be a winner in life and we would be interested in that type of candidate. Drawback: if they are too specialized then they may have trained themselves to be a "one trick pony" and not cultivated their overall critical thinking skills which is a calamity.
Q. Is there any aspect of a vocational program that would make you say, "Wow -- I am so glad this applicant has that experience/education/credential"?
A. Work study and references. If someone has proven that they have been successful and made an impact on an organization through work study or told via a reference from a work study mentor/boss then we would be "wowed." If the person won any competitive awards for anything we would also take notice.
Q. Which industries in Maine are looking for those coming out of vocational school?
A. Industries like construction, manufacturing or technology may need vocational school training, but honestly most employers are looking for smart thinkers that they can train, not highly specialized automatons.
Q. In your opinion, what makes a vocational/technical school in Maine different from other states?
A. Maine has focuses on professions that the state needs which is useful when looking for jobs.
Financial aid in Maine
Students who are worried about paying for higher education can turn to a variety of sources on the federal and state level. It all begins with the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Since many scholarships, grants and the like are based on this, students should start there.
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) offers a wealth of information on financial aid sources within the state. Here's a sampling of what's available:
- State of Maine Grant Program: Qualified students who have financial need can receive up to $1,500 toward their educational expenses at a school within the state.
- Tuition Waiver Program (Foster Care): Those in the foster care system in Maine can be considered for this waiver, which may help them achieve their higher education goals with little to no expense.
- Tuition Waiver Program (Public Servant): Available to the immediate families of public servants who were killed in the line of duty, this provides a full waiver of tuition at a university or community college in Maine.
- Maine Community Foundation Scholarships: Numerous scholarships are offered for qualified Maine residents, and are broken down for easy searching by type or region, as well as special scholarships available to those who meet very specific criteria.
- Finance Authority of Maine, http://www.famemaine.com/
- High-Wage, In-Demand Jobs in Maine by Education, Center for Workforce Research and Development, June 2014, http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/data/oes/hwid.html
- Maine Quick Facts, U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/23,00
- Maine Real Estate: Maine's Economic and Business Climate, http://www.mainehomeconnection.com/MaineEconomy
- Number of undergraduate credentials awarded by Title IV postsecondary institutions, by credential level and state, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ctes/tables/S124.asp
- Scholarship Programs and Information, Maine Community Foundation, http://www.mainecf.org/Scholarships/AboutScholarships.aspx#269019-special-scholarships