Over the last few decades, the prevailing opinion was that a bachelor's degree was the best academic path to a fulfilling and well-paying career. These days, however, it's becoming clear that career and technical education (CTE) is also a legitimate way to help start your career off on the right foot.
The number of U.S. workers in manufacturing professions is on the rise again -- up more than half a million between 2010 and 2018 -- and federal data has recently shown that fewer than 20 percent of students successfully navigate the path from high school through a four-year college and into the working world. Career and technical schools in Pennsylvania can not only help students train for in-demand jobs but cut the time they need to spend in college by half or more.
Why is Pennsylvania Good for Vocational/Career Schools?
Trade and technical schools in Pennsylvania seem poised to make a big impact in the state's job market. Of the six key industries listed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, over half of them offer ample career opportunities for graduates of certificate, diploma and associate degree programs.
Not only that, but training from career and vocational schools in certain Pennsylvania cities can help you align your skills to the needs of the local job market. Aspiring health care workers, for example, are likely to find their best opportunities in Youngstown and Philadelphia, while wages for graduates of HVAC trade schools in Pennsylvania were highest in cities like Pittsburgh, Reading and Hanover.
If you're thinking about taking your career path into your own hands, check out our list of top trade schools in Pennsylvania to get you started. Also, look toward the bottom of the page for vital info on Pennsylvania CTE student certifications and how to apply for financial aid in Pennsylvania.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Pennsylvania
Trade School Financial Aid in Pennsylvania
Aspiring trade school students might not know about the range of financial aid options that may be available to help them afford the cost of their vocational education. In this section, we'll talk about the best ways to set yourself up for Pennsylvania college scholarships and grants as you're getting ready to train for your new career.
If you've done any research about how to apply for financial aid in Pennsylvania, you've probably heard about the FAFSA. Short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA is the main gateway to student assistance at the federal level. Many state and institutional aid programs also use the information on your FAFSA as part of their application process. For more information on this important document and other top-level steps for student aid seekers, check out the financial aid guide on this site. Here are a few of the top Pennsylvania scholarships and college grants that you might qualify for:
- Pennsylvania State Grant - Students who meet the eligibility requirements for this statewide aid program can receive annual awards of as much as $2,100 for community college programs or $3,700 for nursing, business, trade or technical school.
- Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship - City residents who attend Pittsburgh public schools from 9th through 12th grade may qualify for up to $5,000 in annual tuition assistance, provided they maintain a GPA above 2.5 and an attendance record of 90 percent or better.
- Partnerships for Access to Higher Education (PATH) - Students who have already been awarded a grant or scholarship by a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) partner may qualify for up to $2,500 in additional assistance through this program.
Initiatives for Vocational School Students in Pennsylvania
Whether they contribute to program development or help create grants and scholarships for undergraduates in Pennsylvania, initiatives like these are designed to help extend vocational school access to any student who wants it.
Funding for vocational students in Pennsylvania
- The Pennsylvania State Apprenticeship Expansion Grant provides funding to companies hoping to create apprenticeship programs in the energy sector.
- The Teacher in the Workplace (TIW) grant program makes a total of $2.6 million in funds available for K-12 teachers who want to introduce their students to workforce concepts and open up discussions about vocational education.
Pennsylvania policies that benefit vocational students
- The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has proposed that a statewide Pennsylvania Promise program be developed, extending the conditions of the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship to students throughout the state.
- PAsmart is an initiative at the state level that aims to increase student preparedness for emerging jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career fields.
School-specific program initiatives in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania College of Technology offers hundreds of institutional scholarships, many of which are reserved for students in a specific field of study. The Sarah M. Ellegood Dental Hygiene Scholarship is one such award.
- More than 500 scholarships await students of Montgomery County Community College, including the Montgomery County Scholarship for in-county residents attending the school.
Resources for Vocational Students and Job Seekers in Pennsylvania
- The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has information on CTE programs at vocational colleges as well as at the state's secondary schools.
- Job seekers and aspiring students alike can make great use of PA CareerLink, a resource presented by the state's Department of Labor and Department of Industry and Human Services
- It's important to ensure that the school you attend is accredited. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the primary regional accreditor of Pennsylvania institutions, and the Pennsylvania State Board for Vocational Technical Education accredits vocational schools at the state level.
- There's plenty more information available on trade and vocational schools in Pennsylvania and elsewhere throughout the country. If you're hungry to learn more, check out the PA page on Advance CTE and do some exploring at the site of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).