supermanNo, it’s not a bird, a plane, or a bad slogan to a new Sci-Fi channel “Heroes” ripoff. It’s actually the top three career goals as cited by users. Well, if you minus the metaphor, it means programs in aviation, criminal justice, and massage/wellness programs garnered the most requests for information at thus far in ’07.

The top 5 specific programs were:

  • Airframe and Powerplant Technology
  • Cosmetology
  • Aviation Maintenance Technology
  • Paralegal/Legal Assistant
  • Massage Therapy

What do these fields have in common? Well, for one thing, they are all industries that are penetrable via career education and training. They are also the perfect lead-in for this question…

Q: Isn’t career training for people who just don’t want to go to “real” college?

A: There are many reasons why people choose to pursue career education, and it’s usually centered around having very specific career goals. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), over the 12-month period ending in spring 2005, 44 percent of adults reported having participated in formal adult educational activities. Reasons cited included:

  • Improving skills they already had
  • Learning new skills to enter a new field
  • Getting or keeping a certificate or license
  • Leveraging their quest for a promotion
  • The bottom line is that career education differs from a traditional university education in several ways, but one main difference is that it isn’t most populated by newly graduated high school seniors. Those who pursue career education do so from a variety of life situations, career goals, and demographic backgrounds.

    Then, of course, is the nature of the learning itself. Career education is very industry-focused, skill-building, hands-on coursework. You can think of it as sort of an “off-the-job” training. On the other hand, traditional college students complete a “core curriculum” of classes aimed to provide a well-rounded education (hence the English literature, philosophy and biology requirements), along with whichever major course of study they choose.

    Naturally, choosing between career schools and traditional colleges and universities will depend on your professional goals. If you want to be a college professor, you’ll need the full-fledged advanced degrees in education. But if you want to fly high, fight bad guys, or ease stress, career education will give you professional wings (or, a red cape, if you prefer).

    So what do you want to be when you grow up?

    Photo: Warner Bros.

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