by Patty Leiser
How can a person afford to get an education after high school? The price often makes that two or four year college degree impossible even if you attend a public school. Many of us who opted to join the workforce instead of pursuing a college degree have discovered that the paycheck doesn’t go very far and doesn’t increase very much over time without some career training. The price of post-secondary education is steep, but the price of NOT getting some education after high school is very high as well. You may think you’re between a financial rock and a hard place. May we suggest some practical solutions below?
Go to http://www.hvacredu.net/ to request a copy of our free Tech Launch HVACR Career Information Kit.
According to Paul Taylor, Executive Vice President of special projects at the Pew Research Center, “The real story is the collapse in economic opportunity for people who do not continue their education beyond high school.”
This chart came from the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on earnings from full-time workers in 2014:
I’m sure you’ve got some concerns about the unemployment rates as well, but here is proof from the Pew Research Report, which states, “People with college degrees have a far easier time finding a job than those without a degree. Among 25- to 32-year-olds with a college degree, the jobless rate as of March 2013 was 3.8 percent. At 8.1 percent, the rate was more than twice as high for those with a two-year degree or some college, and it was more than three times as high for those with only a high school diploma at 12.2 percent.”
So if you want to do all you can to avoid unemployment in the future, get some good job skills. Career Builder reported that “40% of employers complained that they were unable to find sufficient skilled workers to fill their available positions.” And with the baby boomer group retiring en masse, position openings are only going to increase.
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
The first step
…is to believe you can do better with your career. You can learn a job skill or two and earn enough money to sustain a reasonable lifestyle. Know that there are opportunities for career training and education everywhere, you just need to seek them out. Keep seeking, no matter how many doors seem closed, until you find the education path that works for you. See below for some ideas on where to look.
The second step
…is to understand personal finance. How much money you need is determined by how much money you spend. If you spend less, you need less money to pay the bills. Learn to distinguish between a need and a want. Be extremely careful with debt. If you mess up your credit, it will take significant time to recover and maintain good financial health.
We recommend you seek out information on money management. There is a wealth of free financial training on the Internet. One good spot is Practical Money Skills for Life, which offers a rich selection of tools and articles to help you. Be careful not to give out personal information (name, social security number, birth date, address, phone, credit card number, etc.) to internet sites. There are lots of scammers out there, too.
The third step
…is to make a plan. Once you have your personal finances figured out, explore the possibilities for funding your education. Know that most colleges, schools and training centers offer payment plans to help you spread out the cost of your educational program and make it more affordable.
Look for and apply for scholarships, employer assistance programs, and workforce retraining services. Seek possible support from friends and family. You might be surprised at the available resources. A good rule to go by is to limit your student loan debt to no more than one year’s wages after you complete your program and get a job. See if you can work while you study. You may be able to work around your course schedule.
When you do begin a course, be aware that you can purchase used textbooks at huge discounts. Some booksellers (Amazon.com, for example) also offer a book rental program, providing even further savings. Check with local public and school or college libraries to see if they can loan you textbooks for free.
Now, you’ve got a few decisions to make
Choose a career and choose how you will learn it. It’s important to choose a career field that is expected to increase in the coming years. The US Department of Labor Career One Stop web site is a great resource for exploring growing careers. High School and Community College counselors can guide you through a career aptitude assessment to help you explore and discover your strengths and weaknesses, and steer you to career options that both fit your special skills and talents, and have opportunities for growth. Career One Stop has a link to My Next Move, a free career interest self-assessment.
Do not choose a career for which there are very few or no job opportunities. Many people have a passion for something that honestly qualifies as a hobby and does not provide much hope of becoming a career. Make sure you know the difference.
Also be aware that STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) traditionally pay higher than other career choices, and there may be additional opportunities for educational scholarships. After your career options are identified, you can search out options for where you will get the education and training you need to be successful. Consider these:
Public colleges and universities are one avenue to career training. Talk with an admissions advisor, and fill out the financial aid application many months before you enroll (often in January or February if you want to begin in September). Some colleges offer 4-year bachelor’s degrees, 2-year associate’s degrees, AND certificate programs that are less than 2 years. Sometimes the certificate programs cost much less because they do not carry academic credit, but they can still provide you with entry into the career of your choice.
Also, many colleges offer dual enrollment programs in partnership with high schools. This allows high school students to enroll in college courses for free (or nearly free) and have those courses apply to both their high school diplomas and earn college credit. It’s an inexpensive way to complete a year or two of college while you’re still in high school. But you have to ask about it, and you probably have to qualify. Visit with your high school counselor when you’re a sophomore.
Many community colleges have Workforce Education or Training Centers, and the career training they offer is often connected to local employers who hire graduates. Students completing these programs do not earn a college degree, but rather a certificate of completion for the program, and often that’s all it takes to get your toe in the door on the way to a good career. Remember, there are many careers that do not require an academic associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Online College Career Programs:
There are many available that allow you to learn online with a very flexible schedule. HVACRedu.net partners with nearly 1,000 public colleges across the country to bring you a high quality online HVACR program, if that is your choice. There are numerous other options.
Private Career Training Schools:
You may have a career training school in your area that can get you started on a career. Usually these programs focus all their class time studying specific career knowledge and skills and don’t include the “extra” math, English, speech, language, and social studies courses required for a college degree. Some are very expensive, some are not. Some are accredited and some are not. Shop around and compare to make sure the school or training center of your choice meets your expectations and has good business practices so you don’t accumulate a debt difficult to repay.
HVACRedu.net is a private ONLINE Career Training Institution, accredited by HVAC Excellence and ANSI CAP. We have a broad selection of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Building Energy Efficiency Performance career training programs to meet your needs – all at very reasonable prices. Also, our courses are entirely online so you can attend even while keeping your job and maintaining your church, community, and family commitments. We do not offer federal or state financial aid, but we do offer interest-free payment plans and year-round enrollment. Start whenever you’re ready.
Across the country unions take in new trainees from time to time. It is a great way to earn while you learn and take pride in being a member of a workers’ union. This is where you will most likely hear the term Apprenticeship. Some careers require apprenticeship programs that are a combination of work and learning. Some are longer, some shorter.
Employers are always looking for reliable, honest, motivated workers. They will sometimes hire someone with no skills on the basis of a good interview, and train him or her up within the company. Some employers are great at supporting their workers’ professional development by paying for educational courses or programs, and may support industry certification for their workers as a form of knowledge and expertise validation.
We’ve worked with a large number of non-union employers who offer their employees registered apprenticeship programs, where they learn on the job and enroll in HVACRedu.net’s online four-year HVACR Apprenticeship Related Training Program (the only ANSI CAP accredited apprenticeship program in the country).
The best way to find such an employer is to polish up your resume, print a bunch of copies, dress appropriately for the type of work you desire, and start knocking on doors. There are also job listing sites worth exploring online. Visit our Careers Page for the ones we recommend: https://hvacredu.net/student-services/#.VTFWgyFViko
Take one step today. We encourage you to take at least one step today toward improving your career options. Check out a web resource. Make a call to a trusted adviser. Dig out your resume (or write one up if you don’t have one). Do something. Then take another step tomorrow, and the next day. You’ll broaden your horizons and soon find yourself in a place of bountiful possibilities, where you have the power to change your life for the better. And please, let us know if we can help you in any way as you begin this adventure.
Click here http://www.hvacredu.net/ for a copy of our free Tech Launch HVACR Career Information Kit.