Gone are the days when you could snag a secure, well-paying job with a high school diploma alone. That’s probably the reason why so many young people follow the herd to college, even if they have no particular desire to spend the next four years studying. College is considered the next step. It’s just what you do.
Of course, college is an excellent choice for many. But, let’s face it – it’s not for everyone.
Fortunately, there are other education options that lead to good careers, which are highlighted in “Career and Technical Education: Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A.” The new report, which was released jointly by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and Civic Enterprises, examines the 29 million “middle jobs” that require more education and training than high school but less than a four-year degree. Middle jobs represent one out of every five jobs in the U.S. economy, and nearly half of all American jobs that pay middle-class wages.
What exactly does a middle job look like? Interestingly, it’s not all blue-collar work. According to the report, nearly half of all middle jobs – 13.7 million – are in office occupations. Blue-collar occupations do account for 9.2 million middle jobs, and health care professional and technical occupations account for another 2.7 million middle jobs (1.1 million of which are jobs for registered nurses).
Money in the Middle
And the money for middle jobs isn’t too shabby. Middle job-holders earn an average annual salary of $35,000 to $75,000 – well above the $19,400 average earnings for high school grads. More than 11 million middle jobs pay $50,000 or more annually, and 4 million pay $75,000 or more. The best paying jobs are in sub-baccalaureate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and health care, where over 80 percent of jobs pay middle-class wages (above $35,000 and below $95,000 annually).
Getting to the Middle
The report describes five main pathways for middle job-seekers: employer-based training, apprenticeships, industry-based certifications (e.g., certified nursing assistant; commercial driver’s license; phlebotomy), postsecondary certificates, and associate degrees. Programs like these are typically found in community colleges, technology centers, and even high schools.
Whether college is not for you or it’s just not feasible for you right now, take another look at middle education (aka career and technical education). You might be surprised how far it can take you.