The role community colleges play in the labor market is more important than ever with 11.3 million people still unemployed in October 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers need to find training they can complete in one or two years that fill the needs of the market. And many of those jobs do. Areas such as information technology, health care, hospitality, manufacturing and retail provide some of the fastest growing areas of employment with high vacancy rates.
Information Technology Specialists
Work on a help desk for a large computer company or fix computers for a local team of IT specialists. Every organization in the country relies on computer specialists to keep their systems operating, creating a slew of job opportunities for those with little or no formal training. While the more technical industries such as engineering and science may require a four-year computer degree, most companies rely on skills more keenly than formal training to work on the support teams that keep the IT operations running smoothly both in person and over the phone and through online help desks.
A wider range of careers are open to workers with one or two years, or even less, training in various health care fields. You can earn a registered nursing degree in two years and become a certified nursing assistant in as little as six weeks through community college courses that prepare students to take national exams. Dental hygienists, medical sonographers and radiology technicians all can get state licenses with a two-year associate’s degree.
While much of the work in the building industry is learned on the job, a one- or two-year certificate program at a community college can open additional opportunities. Take community college courses to learn basic construction skills, how to read blueprints and operate machinery such as forklifts and cranes. Fill the void for vast numbers of construction workers needed to supply growing industries with workers knowledgeable in environmental remediation such as asbestos and lead removal as well as landscaping and solar panel installation, all fields of study offered at community colleges across the country.
You may be able to find a clerical position filing or answering phones with just a high school diploma, but after taking administrative courses at your community college, you’ll be more prepared and more likely to be hired as a secretary or administrative assistant, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical and legal assistants typically enter the field with a community college background. Promotions to office manager or clerical supervisor usually go to those workers who’ve performed well on the job and learned the company’s internal processes, rather than to outsiders with four-year degrees.