By Mary Alys Cherry
Little do today’s high school students realize just how lucky they are as they begin planning their future.
Whereas their parents and grandparents had to work a number of jobs before they stumbled on to their dream – and many never did — today’s students can begin sampling various fields while just a high school freshman.
Clear Creek ISD, for example, offers students 14 different pathways, with each combining academic courses with career-related classes – helping students understand the relationship between education and careers so they can make informed decisions on what courses they need to learn its various aspects, what type of work they can expect and what education is necessary.
Its Career and Technical Education program reinforces state and national academic standards by providing students training in career areas of interest to them.
They can take a look at being a chef, an electrician, a dentist or dental assistant, automobile technician, actor, graphic designer, interior decorator, computer programmer, nurse, an air conditioning technician, cosmotologist or architect and more, and then follow their dream at one of the nearby colleges such as San Jacinto College, College of the Mainland, Alvin Community College or at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
Some of the other subjects are veterinary medical applications, communications, livestock production, food technology, wildlife fisheries and ecology management, audio/video production, animation, construction technology, civil engineering and video game design.
In fact, Clear Creek ISD is building a career technology wing at Clear Creek High School which will provide students with an opportunity to explore careers such as the dentistry profession and prepare them to become registered dental assistants.
It’s almost mind boggling how many career paths are available for today’s students, who can even graduate from high school and earn a college associate degree at the same time through the Early College High School at both CCISD and Pasadena ISD.
Think about that. Students can earn a high school diploma and complete two years of college while in high school, saving two years of college costs for their parents – thousands of dollars.
However, many students do not want a four-year degree. They may want to be an auto mechanic, a truck driver or hair dresser and hope to find one with a minimum of training.
Years ago if a young man wanted to be an electrician, a mechanic or air conditioning technician, he had to find someone who would take him in and see him through several years of training before he could be certified. Today he can learn most of the essentials in a community college classroom before becoming a trainee.
In addition to the multitude of programs leading to degrees colleges have offered for generations such as education, engineering, history, math, journalism, business, physics, accounting and languages, local community colleges offer a variety of additional associate degree programs that can put the student on a path to success. Some can be completed in less time than degree programs.
And, employers are pleased as they want employees with the right education and certifications as these employees will most likely have the proper training and safety knowledge, are open to change and have up-to-date credentials.
San Jacinto College, for example, offers certificate programs in paralegal, welding, maritime technology, auto repair, interior design, process technology, culinary arts, environmental safety technology, cosmetology, medical billing, multimedia computer animation, eye care technology, criminal justice, diesel technology and many more. Some are longer than others.
A student in a course on trucking, for example, spends two hours of his daily classroom study learning federal laws, securing loads, etc., and the rest of the day driving different vehicles in varying road conditions. That can be completed in six weeks with entry-level drivers earning $35,000 to $45,000 the first year.
College of the Mainland also helps prepare students with courses in photography, air conditioning technology, nursing, mechanical maintenance technology, art, welding, electrician helper, process technology, construction, project management and design, to name a few of the hands-on ways the school is helping bring the students and the job market together.
Alvin Community College also offers a wide variety of courses, along with a number for the student who is not interested in a four-year degree, including culinary arts management, helicopter pilot training, nursing assistant, pipefitting, machinist, computer training, radio/TV, crime scene technician, real estate (online), pharmacy technology, court reporting, veterinary assistant, emergency medical technology, electronic diagnostics and criminal justice.
San Jac Vice Chancellor Allatia Harris said area businesses are proponents of short-term workforce programs as they need employees immediately and those who can contribute on their first day on the job.
“The construction sector and the health care industry need workers right now,” she added.