With major employers such as Intel, Nike and Wells Fargo, Oregon offers diverse job opportunities to its residents. However, you won't need a bachelor's degree to land many of the state's hottest jobs. Vocational schools in Oregon can provide the training needed for growing occupations in key industries.
Wind turbine service technicians have one such job. Their occupation is expected to see the largest growth in the state from 2017 to 2027, according to the State of Oregon Employment Department. The number of available positions is expected to increase nearly 74 percent during that time period, but you'll need an associate degree to get hired.
Qualified workers are needed to fill other positions in target industries as well. Advanced manufacturing, high technology, forestry and wood products and business services are among the sectors with a competitive advantage in the state, according to Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency.
However, job opportunities vary by region. For instance, while medical assistants and physical therapy assistants are in high demand in the Portland Tri-County region, according to the Employment Department, HVAC mechanics and installers should see the most job growth in Southwestern Oregon.
Why is Oregon Good for Vocational Schools?
There are a number of reasons to consider traditional and online trade schools in Oregon. Tuition is often cheaper at community colleges and technical schools than at public and private universities. Plus, most programs at career schools in Oregon can be completed in two years or less, meaning students can quickly move from paying to be in the classroom to being paid for a job in the workforce.
What's more, even short-term postsecondary programs can provide an immediate boost in income. A 2018 report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found earning a community college certificate increases an Oregon worker's income an average of 19 percent compared to their previous wages.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Oregon
Financial Aid for Vocational Students in Oregon
Vocational schools in Oregon not only provide quality training programs, but they do so at an affordable price. The average cost of tuition and fees at Oregon community colleges was only $5,399 during the 2018-2019 school year, according to the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. That's nearly half the price of the $10,111 state residents paid on average at the state's public universities.
Plus, community college students typically avoid room and board fees which can be almost as much as tuition at some universities. They are also often able to move from the classroom to the workplace in less than two years, meaning less is spent on tuition overall. Those enrolled in online trade schools in Oregon may find it easier to continue working while in school as well.
For those who need help paying for college, financial aid in Oregon includes grants, scholarships and loans. At the state level, Oregon spends millions on government programs designed to improve access to higher education. For instance, it granted $68.1 million to more than 39,000 students through the Oregon Opportunity Grant program in the 2017-2018 academic years.
To apply for Oregon Opportunity Grant or one of the other programs listed below, you need to complete the FAFSA, otherwise known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. We have more about the FAFSA and how to apply for financial aid in Oregon in our RWM Financial Aid Guide.
- Oregon Promise Grant: Recent high school graduates or GED test graduates can have a portion of their community college tuition covered through the Oregon Promise Grant. Awards can be as much as $3,834 in 2019-2020.
- OSAC Scholarships: If you're looking for Oregon scholarships, the Office of Student Access and Completion awards $17 million worth in amounts ranging from $1,000 to more than $10,000.
- Oregon National Guard State Tuition Assistance:Oregon will help pay the cost of tuition not covered by other grants and scholarships for National Guard members in good standing.
Initiatives for Vocational Students in Oregon
Whether you want to complete a technical degree or earn a CTE certification, Oregon supports its vocational students in the following ways:
Funding for vocational students in Oregon
- Community colleges in Oregon receive funding from a number of different sources, and from 2017-2019, the state appropriated more than $570 million from its general fund to support these schools.
- The state also received more than $15 million in federal Perkins funds in 2019, an $850,000 increase from the previous year.
Oregon policies that benefit vocational students
- Aspire is a mentorship program that seeks to encourage higher education, including vocational training, by matching middle and high school students to trained, volunteer mentors.
- Businesses recognize the need to have a well-trained workforce, and the Oregon CTE-STEM Employer Coalition is working to promote career technical education in the state.
School-specific program initiatives in Oregon
- Students don't have to wait until college to begin their CTE training in Oregon. The St. Helens High School Career and Technical Education Program is just one example of how Oregon school districts are helping their students get a head start on a technical education.
- High school students who don't have access to CTE programs at their high school may be able to enroll in dual credit courses that are offered at many Oregon community colleges.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers
- The main accrediting body for technical schools in Oregon is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and you can search for accredited institutions on their website.
- Visit the website of the state's Higher Education Coordinating Commission for more information about financial aid in Oregon and public colleges.
- If you're interested in exploring job opportunities in the state, head to the Oregon Employment Department for resources designed for career seekers.