Is career and technical education right for you?

When deciding if enrolling in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program is right for you, you need to ask yourself a few fundamental questions.

You need to ask if completion of the program will help advance your career and whether the program is prestigious enough for your career goals. Many college graduates and blue-collar workers, as well as people who are considered at-risk, disadvantaged or living with disabilities, are looking more into obtaining a certification or degree from a CTE program. Not only does it take less time to complete a CTE program than it does to complete an education program at a traditional university, but it also offers more flexibility for students who need to work or take care of their families. If you are not sure if enrolling in a CTE program is the right educational move for you, but you would like to find out, review the information in the sections below.

Shorter Time Commitment

Students who enroll in a traditional college or university must commit two to four years to receive a degree. But students who enroll in CTE programs commit much less time, with many certifications taking anywhere from nine to 12 months to complete. Regardless of the CTE program, your chances of graduating sooner are much higher in a CTE program than at a traditional college or university.

Invest Less Money in Your Education

The price of traditional colleges and universities has continued to skyrocket over the last few decades, causing more and more students to take out student loans. If you are pressed for time in completing a degree program, the chances are high that your financial situation is also limited. Therefore, if you want to pursue a post-secondary education but you need to invest less money in your education, you would be better off enrolling in a CTE program than a traditional educational institution.

If you are enrolling in a CTE program, you are most likely looking for a shorter educational program that also offers a flexible course schedule. Traditional colleges are often challenging for adults who are raising a family or who are working since they do not provide much flexibility. But CTE programs, on the other hand, often provide night and weekend classes, as well as online courses and shorter semesters. If you have other obligations besides school, you may feel that pursuing a degree or certification from a CTE program may be the right option for you.

Learn a Skill from First-Hand Experience

Students who graduate from a traditional college often do not get the same hands-on training as students enrolled in CTE programs. While students in traditional colleges may take part in a clinical program or internship, students taking part in CTE programs gain work experience through shadowing their instructors. Many CTE programs also require their students to complete on-the-job training in order to qualify.

Exposure to a Wide Array of Careers

Enrolling in a CTE program exposes students to a wide range of career options, such as robotics, construction, automotive technology, plumbing, and fashion design. Students can also access programs in interior design, agriculture, filmmaking, engineering, healthcare, and veterinary medicine, to name a few. If you have a career or trade you would like to pursue there may be a CTE program available for you.

Increase Student Participation

For many students enrolled in traditional colleges, they spend most of their time in a classroom with their nose pressed against a textbook. But at CTE programs, students are more likely to engage with their studies. Students are exposed to hands-on learning and how to problem solve, which leads to students applying their knowledge towards their craft instead of being passive learners in a classroom setting.

Become an Active Member of the Community

Most CTE programs encourage students to seek internships, mentorships and other hands-on training with local businesses throughout the community. Therefore, these programs allow students to interact with the people that make up their community. Seeking one-on-one training with a community member enables students to determine if the skills that they are learning make up a career that they will want to pursue after completion of the program. Sometimes the business owners that you meet and work with may go on to hire you after you have graduated from your CTE program.

CTE Benefits Those who are Disadvantaged, Disabled, or At-Risk

It is common for traditional colleges to be challenging for students who are considered disadvantaged, at-risk or who have disabilities, while CTE programs may be more inviting. CTE programs are often appealing to people who have recently graduated from high school. If you struggled to graduate from high school, then you are probably not looking to enter a traditional college or university. Do not let your rocky high school experience prevent you from pursuing a post-secondary education, however. By enrolling in a CTE program, you may get the one-on-one schooling that is beneficial for you.

You Will Most Likely Graduate from your CTE Program

Students enrolled in a CTE program are more likely to graduate than those students enrolled in traditional colleges. Since CTE programs are geared to a specific trade, students know from the first week of class what it will take to graduate from the program. But at traditional colleges, most students do not start taking courses that count towards their career until their junior year, meaning that it might take them a lot longer to realize that a specific career and educational track is not the best route for them. Therefore, you know that when you enter a CTE program, you will be there for the duration of the course.

Your Employer May Offer Tuition Reimbursement

Most people who enroll in CTE programs are already working and are enrolling in a program to earn a degree or certification that will advance their current careers. Depending on the employer, you may be eligible to receive tuition reimbursement, which means that you are obligated to continue to work for your employer for a certain length of time in exchange for your employer paying part of all of your school tuition. If your employer pays for your continued education, advancing your career with a CTE certification or degree may sound more appealing to you.

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