With unemployment high and purse strings tight, students need to ask how can they get the training they need to land the career they want.
The competition for jobs these days is high. And while having an undergraduate or graduate college degree is an excellent stepping stone to many careers, sometimes it is not practical due to the cost or not necessary due to someone’s chosen profession.
70.1 percent of high school graduates were enrolled in colleges or universities. This is the highest rate since the BLS began tracking this information. In addition, of those going to college nearly 92 percent were full-time students, while 70 percent of those not enrolled in college entered the labor pool.
What this seems to indicate is that young adults realize that even though finding employment may be tough once they graduate from college, it is even more difficult for those with only a high school education.
Consider the Benefit of a College Education
A college degree has long been considered a wise financial and career investment. For many jobs in the U.S. – say, for instance, lawyer or doctor – college education is mandatory while a paper helper needs to have strong writing skills. And with so many more high school graduates going to college, the competition in the already weak labor market has become tougher.
High school seniors need to be thinking now about their future to determine if further education at a traditional four-year institution is their best option. Yes, the right college degree often translates into the right career. However, not only are there other avenues for learning a trade and preparing to enter the workforce, but too often the degree someone obtains isn’t a match for current needs.
It’s easy to see the choice of career path and college degree program can lead to future career success or career frustration. So it’s important to choose wisely.
Alternative Career Training: Moving Beyond the Four-Year Degree
With nearly 92 percent of college enrollees attending school full-time, it might be difficult for everyone to obtain gainful employment related to their area of interest. However, for the other eight percent who attend college part-time, they can often balance school and work.
The benefit, of course, is that part-time students can establish their career early and get the necessary experience to compliment their college degree.
For those who enter the job market on a full-time basis and take related college courses on a part-time basis to supplement their on-the-job training, they may find they have a better opportunity to match their education directly to their chosen career path.
Another alternative to a traditional four-year college program is vocational education at a career, technical or trade college.
Career and trade colleges focus on competency-based education, emphasize hands-on experience and offer real-world skills in order to prepare students for immediate entry into the workforce.
These colleges are great for those who want to enter programs in health care or medical assisting, dental assisting, cosmetology, culinary arts, fashion design, paralegal and more. In addition, there are a variety of certification courses that can enhance careers in career fields such as information technology, massage therapy and court reporting.
Finally, for those who want the benefit of a higher education without the college degree and all for free of charge, there are the online open courseware classes available through a variety of top-notch universities.
Choosing the Right Higher Education Path
Selecting a traditional college or a career college program is very much a personal choice. However, students might want to consider following these steps:
- Research what types of jobs are available in the current job market
- Get work experience while attending school
- Be willing to move to where the jobs are
- Position themselves to excel beyond their competition
- Choose a college program that best fits their career goals
While vocational education is often considered the shortest route toward a career, a university education and a four-year degree may often provide better opportunities for future career advancement. Students need to consider all their options and then choose whether a college degree or technical education is better for their career path.
Controlling Career Options
Unfortunately, many people wait until their current job is in jeopardy before they think about what they can do to save their job.
To avoid this self-imposed trap door, the best approach is to spend a little time each week or month completing continuing education or training programs to improve employment skills.
This same approach can also be used by those who discover their current career field is downsizing or career opportunities are becoming scarce. People in this situation can control their career options through continuing education programs designed to optimize their current job skills to help them prepare to enter a new career.
Five Steps for Controlling Your Career Training
Here are five steps for controlling your career through continuing education programs to achieve professional goals and objectives:
Join Professional Organizations
Professional organizations provide the latest information on trends and practices in an industry or career field.
The small amount spent to join these organizations is money well spent because of benefits, such as: information on latest continuing education opportunities; recommended reading materials in the industry; opportunities to read reports and articles on current trends authored by leading experts; opportunities to participate in professional conferences; and the ability to deduct professional organization fees from taxes.
Explore Education Options
Determine what continuing education programs provide the best opportunity to effectively improve your job skills and knowledge. This step is designed to allow maximization of earning potential, skills, and knowledge through industry know-how. There are a lot of online learning platforms to help you select the best programs.
Maintaining Current Career Expertise
Enrolling in and successfully completing continuing education programs in your career provides the opportunity to stand out from other employees. Additionally you become the resident expert on current practices and techniques in the workplace.
Establish Realistic Career Education Goals
Develop a plan of what continuing education programs or courses you need or want to accomplish in the short term (less than two years) and long term. These programs or courses must be tailored to your current or future career field to help achieve established career goals.
Establish a Plan of Action
Once you have established the specific continuing education goals, the next step is to develop a plan of action.
Taking control of your career options through continuing education opportunities is essential for remaining up-to-date in any career field. Following the five steps above aggressively and not giving up until they are reached is the mark of a professional. Employers seek and retain professionals, especially when it comes time to consider downsizing. Continuing education is the key to success and supports your career objectives.