Tech prep is not at all what it used to be. Experts predict that technical careers will be the highly skilled workforce of the future and encompass a very wide array of occupations.
“It is expected that by 2020, 58% of jobs in Nevada will require a career certificate or a college degree, said Angie Hernandez, CTE College Credit Coordinator at TMCC. “Middle skill occupations by that year will account for about 30% of jobs nationally and require a career certificate or two-year degree.”
The new name for Tech Prep is CTE College Credit, and all of these occupations involve a great degree of proficiency. Career and Technical Education is CTE.
“CTE College Credit encompasses a huge set of career programs,” Hernandez said. “This area includes everything from engineering to theater technology to biomedical careers.”
The Nevada Department of Education has a Career and Technical Education Course Catalog for the 2015-2016 school year that includes 75 programs in six program areas. The list is broad. Some of the technical fields include:
- Administrative Services
- Accounting and Finance
- Computer Science
- Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry
- Drafting and Design, Architectural Design
- Early Childhood Education
- Fire Science
- Graphic Design, Photography and Animation
- Information Technology – Networking, Service and Support
- Metalworking, Welding and Automotive
- Certified Nursing Assistant
- Veterinary Science
- Many more
When high school students enroll in an approved program of study at their school and achieve specific requirements, they can earn a State Certificate of Skill Attainment.
- Completion of course sequence
- Earn a minimum 3.0 grade point average in CTE classes
- Pass the state end-of-program technical assessment (typically in April)
- Pass the state Workplace Readiness Assessment
With the State Certificate of Skill Attainment, they also earn from 3-20 college credits through articulation agreements with Nevada community colleges. In the past, the students would earn these credits in the service area where they lived – for example, a Washoe County School District student would apply to earn credits at TMCC. Now, with the new standards, students have reciprocity to apply for these credits at any of the Nevada community colleges for which they choose to enroll. Nevada colleges with CTE credit articulation are:
- College of Southern Nevada
- Great Basin College
- Western Nevada College
The technical assessments are based on state standards established by a team of high school and college instructors, and vetted with industry representatives. Starting with the class of 2016, eligible students can apply for the college credit within three years of high school graduation.
“The new requirements and reciprocal agreement raise the bar, tying the award of college credit to an assessment, and also establishes a culture of completion in both high school and college,” Hernandez said.
Many Benefits of Technical Education
Students electing the CTE College Credit courses minimize repeating similar coursework in college and save the cost of tuition and books for these classes.
“Career and Technical Education classes are very hands-on, instead of lecture and book studies alone,” said Hernandez. “Most often, graduation rates are higher, because CTE students are highly engaged.”
It is also recommended that students meet with college advisers to plan their educational goals.
For those interested in a technically-skilled career path, they do not need to have taken these courses in high school. A student can decide at any time to start a new technical career path at TMCC, even without earning the college credit articulated with high school study.
A big benefit to people choosing a technical field is the wide flexibility in where they want to start their career, or the position to which they would like to advance.
“There are a lot of options in your career – there are levels of stackable credentials that let you choose your place in an industry,” Hernandez said. “For example, TMCC’s Welding Skills Certificates are 10 credits and prepare students to earn the American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welder Certification, a credential desired by many employers. The Skills Certificates can lead to a Certificate of Achievement that is 30 credits.”
Another option for students is to work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree with 60 credits. If a student decides to move into management, a Bachelor’s of Applied Science degree in management is an additional career path.
“When students realize that they can have a well-paying job with wonderful opportunities after two years of college, it opens so many doors for them,” Hernandez said.