Getting Started in the Career of Your Choice

by Staff Reports

You’ve just graduated from high school, and now you’re wondering what to do. At this point, the idea of four more years in school at a college or university is overwhelming, to say the least!

No worries! While a four-year degree from a college or university is something to be proud of and can certainly help in launching a great career, it’s not the only option.

At Central Arizona College (CAC), you can earn an Associates degree, or certifications in many occupations that allow you to enter the job field immediately after completion. It’s a great way to gain job skills without four years of higher education. Attending a community college is a great start on your future!

The US Census Bureau reports that workers with an associates degree make an average of $1.4 million over their lifetime, which is approximately 40% more than workers with only a high school degree.

Right now, workplace needs are expanding rapidly, and technological advances means that workers with a wide variety of skills are in demand. There are jobs available that focus more on skills than on a 4-year degree. Depending on the associate’s degree or certification, jobs are available the pay anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 annually.

There are many job needs that didn’t exist even a decade ago, and finding qualified applicants to fill these jobs can be challenging. Also, the number of jobs in these fields are expected to grow rapidly, many between 20-40% within the next few years.

Check out the CAC website for information on programs that are offered locally. Go to Academics>Divisions & Programs to start, and then click on the ‘Gainful Employment Disclosures’ box below each division. That will list some of the opportunities within that field. Click on a specific career, and you can see how long the program takes, what the costs are for tuition, books and room and board. Most of their certifications take about 32 weeks, although some require 48 weeks.

If you are seeking more information about the job, a great resource is O*Net Online. Here you can look at specific jobs, find out what the tasks associated with that job, what technology skills are required and what type of education is needed. Click on the Details tab for the job, and you will find the wage or salary that can be expected.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has an Occupational Outlook Handbook on their website (look under the Publications tab) that offers career information on duties, education and training, pay and outlook for hundreds of occupations.

You may decide at a later time to get that four-year degree. But, if you’re not ready now to make that commitment, a community college may be an excellent option for a faster start in the field of your choice. Best of all, you’ll usually find you have less student debt!