Parker County Today May 2017 - Page 76

our opinions: ADVICE FROM AN EXPERT In The Comfort Zone At The Crossroads A 74 s the end of May approaches many high school students and those surrounded by high school students are thinking about what comes next. There is a fork in the road and it has several different tines on it that can lead to a new career, college or technical educa- tion. According to research from the National Center for Educational Research, over a 30-year career a college graduate earns $500,000 more than a high school gradu- ate who goes directly into the workforce. That same research says that a technical school gradu- ate is estimated to earn more than $450,000 over a high school graduate over the same 30-year career. That’s why for many this third option of trade school is becoming more attractive as the cost of higher education spirals out of control. Trade schools are cost-effective, efficient and can almost guarantee that a job will be available upon certification. The proof is in the numbers. The cost of attending a four-year public university in Texas is averaging over $30,000 per year. That’s $120,000, which is more than most parents can pay. This incredible cost is being paid for by loans that students are taking out to cover the cost; so many graduates get not only a shiny diploma upon graduation, but also the heavy burden of debt. Mike Rowe of television’s Dirty Jobs calls this the “diploma dilemma,” which, he says, is lending money we don’t have to kids to train them for jobs that don’t exist, who have no hope of paying it back. Trade and technical school have graduates who can be working in their chosen field in only two years. A two- year trade school costs between $10,000 and $30,000, less than one-third of a four-year degree. Students can have their certification in a variety of industries and be out in the workforce with an estimated 70 percent less debt load, qualifying for jobs that are in great demand. Right now there are over 6,000 job openings for HVAC technicians alone in Texas. Employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is By Brett Hobson CEO Comfort Experts projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024*, much faster than the average for all occupations. Here’s a chart of what a variety of professions earned in 2015 along with the education required for each of them*: Teacher 4-year degree $54,450 Loan officer 4-year degree $64,430 Police officer 2/4 year program $60,270 Journalist 4-year degree $37,720 AC/Heating 2-year certification $45,110 LVN 2-year certification $43,170 While AC/heating technician is at the lower end of the earning scale starting out, they are out of school earning sooner while not racking up student debt. If you decide that you don’t want to attend four more years of school, be saddled with debt and really like to work with your hands, trade school might just be for you. But remember that all trade schools are not created equal. Many are in trouble because they are churning out students who aren’t qualified to work. Because of that, we decided to open our own school called the Perfect Technician Academy several years ago. We were not getting the qualified, trained and job ready applicants that we needed to best serve our customers. Now our school is turning out candidates that are coveted employees with the skills and knowledge to succeed in their chosen field. Make sure if you choose a trade school it is one that will help you get the job you want. Talk to graduates, talk to potential employers. Find out from them which schools are supplying the students that are job ready. The trade school option is not only attractive for 18-year-old high school graduates, but for anyone looking to retrain and re-enter the workforce. It’s never too late to make a change that can change your life. *Bureau of Labor Statistics