As Digital Transformation becomes pervasive and Artificial Intelligence arrives as a major disruptor, the employment market is getting increasingly complex and competitive. Most traditional jobs are either getting revamped or altered in a complete fashion or just disappearing. In such a fluid yet dynamic situation, skills become required and necessitated in a super-quick pattern. The need of the hour is smart skills and also the ability to pick up new skills fast. Education is going to become continuous in the future leading to challenging and exciting careers and more satisfying lives.
Even in a normal, standard-paced scenario, while schools counsel students on the selection of career paths, students are not able to make a decision on the stream to opt for more often than not. The dismal news on the student debt front will also serve as a dampener for students looking to identify a graduation major. When students have connected with a skill or an activity that they enjoy, internships are a great way to get their feet wet while in High School in a business or factory/plant environment. For those who are not sure of their preferred career as well as those looking to find a cost-effective path to graduation, community colleges offer the ideal gestation ground.
Gestating ideas and careers
A community college makes it possible for students to get real focus onto their studies by way of several features of the system. The foremost beneficial feature is that the classes are small followed by the related element of teacher attention to every student as well as reduced workload on teachers. Of course, lower Tuition and Fees are among the top reasons to enrolling in Community College but the crucial element is that students know that they are able to work on all their weaknesses in a low-cost and low-stress environment. And then, they are also able to work part-time to develop their cash reserve for future academic and life pursuits. In beginning to focus on the importance of a two-year degree in today’s economic and commercial environment, a look at the overall education and jobs environment is imperative.
Department of Education
Betsy DeVos has recently advocated a move towards apprenticeship in making a pitch for a ‘major shift’ in higher education. The Secretary of Education requested businesses to partner with community schools and other similar institutions.
In 2017, history has been set with job openings that have been created with the all-time top three months of job openings being set this year. They have crossed 6 million in four months of 2017. Data for job openings have been recorded since 2000.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2016 revealed Median Usual Weekly Earnings for those with a Bachelor’s Degree at $1,156 while for those with an Associate’s Degree it was $819. The Unemployment rate for the former was 2.7 percent while it was 3.6 percent for the latter.
How many High-School Graduates go to college
As of October 2016, 69.7 percent of High School graduates of 2016 were enrolled in Colleges or Universities. The number of students who had graduated from High School from January to October 2016 was 3.1 million between ages of 16 to 24. About 2 of 3 of the 2.2 million enrolled in colleges were in 4-Year courses which make up about 1.6 million.
The National Center for Education Statistics Preliminary Data for 2016-17 released in July 2017 reported data on Degrees and Other Awards Conferred for 2015-16 and 12-Month Enrolment for 2015-16. In the 2016-17 academic year from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016, there were 1,995 2-year institutions among the 6,760 Title IV institutions in the United States. Of the 1,995, those within U.S. jurisdiction were 1,969 with the remaining 26 were situated in other U.S. jurisdictions. The number of Title IV eligible institutions granting a 2-year degree had been 1,732 in 2000-01.
Number of students
The NCES data for 12-month headcount 2015-16 at Title IV institutions offering 2-year degrees was 8, 985, 279 at Public institutions, 89, 188 at Private Non-profit institutions and 450,093 at Private For-Profit institutions.
Rate of completion of 4-year Degrees
At For-Profit Institutions granting a 4-year degree, only 42 percent of the 286,000 students received a bachelor’s degree while the count for public institutions was 64 percent. All data is with regard to Title IV institutions. Tuition and Fees increased in the last three years by 1 percent for For-Profit institutions and 4 percent for Public institutions. At Non-profit institutions, 53 percent students received a degree with fees going up 5 percent in the period from 2014-15 to 2016-17.
Breaking Down 2-year institution numbers
Of the total 1,995 institutions providing 2-year Degrees, 990 were public institutions, 842 were For-Profit Institutions while 163 were Non-Profit institutions.
Costs for a 2-year Degree
Tuition and Required Fees
In Public institutions, students from in-district paid $3,312 for Tuition and Required Fees for a 2-Year certificate in 2014-15 which went up to $3,479 in 2016-17. The corresponding figures for students from within the state were $3,875 and $4,087. If the student was from out of the state, the costs were $7,586 in 2014-15 and $7,937 in 2016-17. For Private Non-Profit institutions, the costs for Tuition and Required Fees were $14,282 in 2016-17 while they were $14,694 for Private For-Profit institutions.
Books and Supplies
Over Public, Private For-Profit and Private Non-Profit, the costs for books and supplies were in the range of $1,422-$1,627.
Room and Board
At Public Institutions and staying on campus, room and board cost $6,568 in 2016-17 while for off-campus not with family, the cost was $8,191. The corresponding figures for Private Non-Profit were $8,814 and $9,470. At For-profit, they were $10,308 and $8,466 respectively.
At Public Institutions on campus, they ran up to $3,270 while at For-Profit they were $3,452 in 2016-17.
We have the following total costs
· Public-within a state-staying on campus-$15,347
· Private-NonProfit-within a state-staying on campus-$27,931
· Private-ForProfit-within a state-staying on campus-$30,081
Among the 1,969 2-Year Institutions in the U.S., there were 990 Public Institutions and 830 For-Profit Institutions while Non-Profit Institutions numbered 158. It is to be noted that the number of For-Profit Institutions within the segment makes up 28.6 percent while it is only 17.7 percent for 4-Year Institutions. This reveals that the private sector sees more commercial prospects within the 2-year segment or it could be a factor of lower costs in beginning a 2-year institution.
2-Year Tuitions compared with 4-year Tuitions
Tuition and Required Fees at For-Profit Institutions are $16,011 for a 4-year course while they are $14,694 at a 2-Year For-Profit Institution. At public and non-profit institutions, Tuition and Required Fees for a 4-Year course are almost double that of those for a 2-Year course.
Rate of Student Persistence
The Community College Research Center (CCRC) has provided data of 55 percent persistence at one year for students who started part-time while it was 69 percent for students who started full time.
The CCRC data on Developmental Courses shows that 35 percent of students beginning a two-year college took a remedial course in the first year. This data pertains to the period from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012. The NCES has reported that budget constraints have led to some states reducing the number of remedial courses. These states were Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. Other states were trying to shift remediation to community colleges. These states were Illinois, Montana, Tennessee and Texas.
NCES data on remedial courses
According to a NCES report of September 2016, 41 percent of students at public 2-year institutions in 2011-2012 took a remedial course. Data for 2003-2009 stood at 68 percent for students who had enrolled in 2003-2004 and taking a remedial course in any field. Those taking multiple remedial courses across subjects were 26 percent. On average, a student taking remedial courses enrolled in three such courses. Those completing all the courses they had begun stood at 49 percent.
Link between Remedial Courses and Dropouts
Those who began a 2-year study program at a public institution and were weakly prepared opted for remedial math at 65 percentage points. Those taking a remedial course did so within three months of beginning college at 72 percentage points.
Key data on Remedial Courses in 2-year programs between 2003 and 2009 (Public Institutions)
· 68 percent of students enrolled for a remedial course
· 48 percent took two or more remedial courses
· 26 percent took courses across multiple subject areas
· 72 percent enrolled for a remedial course in the first term
· 49 percent completed all of their courses
· 35 percent completed some of their courses
· 16 percent completed none
· 73 percent who took one remedial course completed it
· 25 percent who took four remedial courses completed all four
· 41 percent weakly prepared students completed all courses taken
· 51 percent of moderately prepared students completed all courses taken
The NCES Report showed that students with weak academics who had completed a remedial math course were 11 percent less probable of dropping out of college in the first two years when beginning at a 4-year public institution.
Education formats at Community Colleges
Online courses are increasingly becoming commonplace with hybrid courses offering a mix of online and traditional coaching also being available. Accelerated Learning options are also available which allow for graduation in 15 months.
In 2008-09, the top five in-demand professions in the 10-year projection for 2006-2016 included two jobs that needed a Bachelor’s Degree, two that needed Short-Term On-the-job training and one that needed an Associate Degree. The 10-Year Projections are revised every two years. At number one was Network systems and data communications which needed a Bachelor’s Degree, number two was Personal and Home Care Aides that needed Short-Term On-the-job training, number three was Home Health Aides which also required Short-Term On-the-job training, number four was Computer Software Engineers which required a Bachelor’s Degree and at number five was Veterinary Technologists and Technicians which required an Associate Degree.
Which industry led in the Past?
Among other jobs in demand in 2009-09 that required an Associate Degree were
· Physical Therapist Assistants
· Dental Hygienists
· Environmental Science and Protection technicians
Looking at the period from 2004 to 2014, six of the top ten in-demand occupations did not require a Bachelor’s Degree. Five of the six were in the health care industry.
Which industry leads now?
In 2017, the top five in-demand professions in the 10-year projection for 2016-2026, there are none that need a Bachelor’s Degree. Health Care dominates again with three out of the top five in-demand jobs projected for the next decade with the other two jobs related to the alternative energy segment.
Top Five Jobs for 2017 and further
At number 1 is Solar Photovoltaic Installers which requires a High-School Diploma or equivalent. The median pay for 2016 was $18.87 per hour or $39,240 per year. There were 11,300 jobs in the segment in 2016 with projections for 105 percent growth over the next decade. Trade schools and Community Colleges have courses that train for the job such as Basic Safety and PV Knowledge to System Design. The duration of these courses can range from a few days to a few months. Important qualities for the job are Communication skills, Detail-Oriented towards accurately following instructions, Mechanical skills to work with electrical and mechanical equipment, Physical stamina towards climbing ladders frequently and Physical strength for lifting heavy equipment. A course in Photovoltaic Systems at a Community College is the best route to secure employment in this job.
At number two is Wind Turbine Service Technicians which requires a Postsecondary nondegree award. The median pay for 2016 was $25.13 per hour or $52,260 per year. There were 5,800 jobs in the segment in 2016 with projections for 96 percent growth over the next decade. Technical Schools and Community Colleges are the source of training for the job with certificates or associate’s degree in wind energy technology. Rescue, safety and first aid, Electrical maintenance, hydraulic maintenance, braking systems, Mechanical systems and Programmable Logic Systems are among the skills needed for the job.
At number three is Home Health Aides which requires a High School Diploma or Equivalent. The median pay for 2016 was $10.66 per hour or $22,170 per year. There were 2,927,600 jobs in 2016 with projections for 40 percent growth over the next decade.
At number four is Personal Care Aides which also comes under the same pay as Home Health Aides and is included in the job count projection for Home Health Aides.
At number five is Physician Assistants, number six is Nurse Practitioners and number seven is Statisticians all of which require a Master’s Degree.
At number eight is Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides. The Median Pay in 2016 was $21.77 per Hour or $45,290 per year. An Associate’s Degree from an Accredited Program is required for the job. There were 350 Associate’s Degree Programs for Physical Therapist Assistants in 2017. The subjects in the course include Algebra, English, anatomy, physiology and psychology. Important qualities for the job are compassion, detail-oriented, dexterity, interpersonal skills and physical stamina.
Other jobs that are trained in community colleges include
· Medical Assistants who made $15.17 per hour in 2016 at 634,000 positions and
· projected to grow 29 percent by 2026
· Occupational Therapy Assistants or Aides
· Fire Inspectors who might be required to have done a 2 or 4 year degree in Fire Science
Jobs that are not being filled
There were 468, 600 Machinists in 2016 who were making $20.75 per hour or $43,160 per year. Growth over the next decade through 2026 is projected at 1 percent. Openings in the position arise from retiring workers. Two-year programs to train machinists or tool and die makers at community colleges and technical schools cover design and blueprint reading, use of welding and cutting tools and Computer Numerically Controlled machines.
General Maintenance and Repair Worker
Courses at Community Colleges in Mechanical Drawing, Mathematics, Computers, Electrical and Woodworking are relevant to this position that paid out $17.76 per hour or $36,940 per year to 1,432, 600 workers around the country. Growth for this job is projected at 8 percent over the next decade through 2026. Tasks in this job include painting, repairing of flooring, plumbing, electrical, air-conditioning and heating systems.
Rounding off the data, we can take a look at the jobs and unemployment rates which we started out with by looking at data for 2016.
Looking at the overall job scenario
As of 2001, persons who had a Bachelor’s or higher degree earned $832 a week. Those with an Associate Degree made $625 each week. Those with Some College with no Degree made $568 each week. Persons with a High School graduation or equivalent made $497 a week.
As of 2014, people with a Bachelor’s Degree only made $1,101 per week. Those with some college or an Associate Degree made $761 each week.
As of August 2017, people with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher were unemployed at 2.4 percent. People with some college or an associate degree were unemployed at the rate of 3.8 percent in August 2017.
Moving from an Associate Degree to a Bachelor’s Degree
As and when a person wants to complete a Bachelor’s Degree, credits earned towards the Associate Degree can be used in the completion of the Bachelor’s Degree.
Why an Associate Degree is much more effective than a High School Graduation?
With durations of just 24 months and sometimes as short as 15 months, an Associate Degree provides a strong foundation both in terms of job stability as well as strength of skill.
New prospects in the digital economy
Associate Degrees in Multimedia, Digital Marketing are of immense value as they deliver just the right skills that businesses and employers are seeking out right now.
Is an Associate Degree enough for a good salary?
Associate Degrees that are in demand
The Curriculum typically covers Introduction to Law and Ethics, Legal research and Writing, Business Law, Personal Finance, Employment Law, Contracts, American Government, Torts, Civil Litigation, Criminal Law, Real Estate Law, Family Law and Income Tax Fundamentals. Among career choices are Corporate Paralegal, Litigation Paralegal and Immigration Paralegal. Some Associate Degrees are framed for students who do not want to study further delivering all the information and knowledge that is needed for a career.
The 2016 Medium pay for a Paralegal was $23.80 per hour or $49,500 per year. The number of jobs in 2016 were 285,600. Growth projection for Paralegals through 2026 is at 15 percent which translates into an additional 41,800 jobs. As Law Firms try and improve business efficiencies, Paralegals might be required to take on responsibilities of Legal Secretaries which is a position that requires a High School Graduation that had median pay of $17.90 per hour in 2016. The demand for Paralegals is expected to increase given the focus on cost optimization by Law Firms. Corporations are also going to be seeking paralegals to avoid the costs of employing outside counsel.
The Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene requires students to have taken Biology, Chemistry and Math in High School. The 2016 Medium Pay was $35.05 per hour or $72,910 per year at 207,900 positions. At 20 percent growth over 2016-2026, 40,900 more positions are projected to be created through 2026. This is a course that is much sought after leading to a high level of applications for limited seats.
Geologic and Petroleum technicians
A 2-year Associate’s Degree for this job can be based on mining or geosciences among others. The 2016 Medium Pay was $27.15 per hour or $56,470 per year. There were 15,000 positions in 2016 with 2,500 set to be added by 2026 at a growth rate of 16 percent. Support Activities for Mining constituted 25 percent of the positions while Oil and Gas Extraction constituted 23 percent followed by Engineering services at 12 percent. Important qualities for the job include analytical skills to study data and samples, Communication skills to interact with scientists and managers, critical-thinking skills to interpret scientific data, interpersonal skills and physical stamina.
Associate-Degree Jobs that are low-growth over the next decade
Air Traffic Controller
The job requires a degree from an Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative(AT-CTI) available school. There are 36 approved AT-CTI schools around the country which award two and four-year non-engineering aviation degrees. The subjects that are taught include aviation weather and reading charts. To be selected for the job, candidates need to pass drug screening and background checks, a Federal Aviation Administration pre-employment test, pass the Air Traffic Controller Specialists Skills Assessment Battery and also complete training at the FAA Academy with the academy training needing to be begun before 31 years of age.
The 2016 Medium Pay for Air Traffic Controllers was $58.85 per hour or $122,410 per year. There were 24,900 positions in 2016 with growth expected at 3 percent through 2026 to add another 900 positions.
Cost-effective education in securing an Associate’s Degree
Many 2-year institutions offer flexible tuition fees with options such as customization of monthly payments.
Flexible education pathway
Institutions that award 2-year degrees also allow students to choose and set their own study schedule with regard to the selection of subjects and the mode of coaching that they seek to receive.
Courses designed in partnership with industry
With the involvement of industry in the design of courses, a 2-year Associate’s Degree gets its most important advantage. Courses are framed to meet emerging requirements in industry at the same time that a shortfall is beginning to be encountered. Personal Coachers are made available at many institutions. The interactions between student and teacher or with the institution have all been brought into the mobile platform making it completely simple to plan and organize the learning journey.
Credits transferred into an Associate’s Degree
Any credit from a college that was attended prior to enlisting for an Associate’s Degree can be transferred in, the same way that credits earned towards the Associate’s Degree can be transferred out towards a subsequent enrolment for a Bachelor’s Degree. Some 2-year institutions also offer credits for the work experience that a person has gained prior to enrolment for the Associate’s Degree (or Bachelor’s Degree too).
Most 2-year institutions provide very interesting offers that are an incentive for those dithering on what track to get on to. Some of the deals offer almost-zero levels of initial payments and monthly payments as low as $50. Others offer semesters for free. Discount offers can range up to 20 percent or more. At many colleges, the tuition fees include study materials, career services and much more.