All, photos by , joey ferguson,, deseret news
Thinking of a job after high school? Perhaps you should reconsider how to get there.
With average college debt per student topping $22,000, more students are turning to certificate or hands-on programs that get them into better paying jobs at a fraction of the price.
About 22 percent of post-secondary awards, including college degrees, are certificates, up from 6 percent in 1980, according to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.
On average a certificate will help someone earn $34,946 a year, 20 percent better than a high-school only graduate. But compared with an associates or bachelor's degree, its 17 percent or 36 percent lower, respectively. For many it's a stepping stone.
For Ryan Tedrow, an 18-year-old high school senior from Riverton, his hands-on electrical installation class in high school helped him boost his hourly rate 38 percent to $10 an hour, which will help him work through college.
"I didn't know anything about electricity before I came here," Tedrow said. "Now, going into the job that I have it's cake. I know the basics of everything that they're having me do, and I can do it."
Tedrow and his fellow students at Canyons Technical Education Center, part of the Canyons School District, built a 3,100-square-foot home in Sandy.
In the Canyons' case, employers walked around quizzing students on how they were able to install the accent lighting and create walk-in closets in the five-bedroom, three-bathroom house, which will be in the Sale Lake Parade of Homes in August.
Students had a year of hands-on experience to put these technical credentials on their resume. These credentials make most of these students more marketable than the average high school graduate.
Tedrow chose to go to the Canyons' program for the experience and to start a career while supporting himself through college.
While enrolled in the electrical technician class, he applied for a job at Jordan Valley Electric and was hired that day.
"The first day of work they had me wiring 60 to 80 receptacles and then go on. I already knew how, so it was easy," he said.
Tedrow went from $7.25 an hour at his previous job to $10 right away at Jordan Valley Electric, with a guarantee that he'll get a dollar raise with every A he gets in his college classes.
Canyons and other career and technical schools across the nation are helping students focus on one specific career. The institutions provide the hands-on experience as well as teaching them other soft-skills, such as communication and resume skills.
For example, the Tennessee Technology Centers are designed to be completed in two years and cost about $800 per trimester, according to the Georgetown study.
Because career and technical schools are affordable, 17 percent of lower-income families frequent them. That's 7 percentage points more than higher-income families, according to National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.
The skills learned in career and technical programs help increase higher-quality jobs and employment consistency, according to Public/Private Ventures.
In addition, career and technical teachers provide many ways to help their students dive into career.
Some teachers, such as Fred Smith, who oversees the on-site construction program at Canyons Technical Education Center, also focuses on teaching students professional skills, such as interviewing techniques and greeting visitors directly.
Smith suggests students join SkillsUSA a nonprofit, leadership organization that helps the classroom build a foundation on industry standards and soft skills.
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