Monday, October 25, 2021

Are Collier County Public Schools Preparing Students for Careers?

Rumination from the Rock

Hmmm… Heard of “Career in a Year?”

Let’s start with the facts. By 2018, 57% of jobs will require SKILLED TRAINING that can be achieved at a TECHNICAL COLLEGE. What does that mean? Well, for one, good paying jobs could be filled with trained/skilled workers who spend between two to 24 months getting the education and certification they need to begin working without a four-year college degree and at much less financial burden. For those students who are interested in a career with faster results, the option of attending a technical college that provides high quality and affordable career and technical training may be a “perfect fit.”

Here are some career examples and the average pay. There is much more information available at and luckily, CCPS offers two locations; a technical college in Naples (Lorenzo Walker Technical College) and in Immokalee (iTech Immokalee Technical College I’ll be focused on the courses offered in Naples, but iTECH has many of the same classes. These are not ALL of the classes due to space.

In two to three months, the following career training can be completed: Nursing Assistant, Facial Specialty, Nail Specialty and Phlebotomy (you know, getting your blood taken). Best of all, the tuition could be paid by scholarship, financial aid loans or by a work/study option. Tuition for these trainings ranges from $771 – $1,471.

Pick yourself up off the floor now!

Isn’t that tuition positively reasonable to be working in those careers and earning an average salary of between $19,000 and $29,760? Remember, 57% of jobs will require skilled training and not a four-year college degree, just in case that didn’t sink in earlier!

Here are a few more medical career programs needing longer to complete, but with greater average salaries: Veterinary Assisting (8 months), Medical Administrative Assistant (11 months), Dental Assisting (12 months), Medical Assisting (12 months), Surgical Technology (12 months), Practical Nursing (12 months), Pharmacy Technician (11 months), and the average salary for these ranges between $24,800 to $41,600. WOW! Of course, when the time necessary to complete the courses is longer, the tuition is higher. Average cost of a technical program is $5,000 with the per hour rate of instructional cost at @$2.92.

The grads of the longest programs (14-24 months) also can earn the highest average salaries after completion, such as:

  •   Drafting ($47,800)
  •   Air Conditioning/Refrigeration/Heating ($36,700)
  •   Automotive Collision Technician ($41,600)
  •   Automotive Service Technology ($37,800)
  •   Marine Service Technologies (only 11 months – average $45,000)
  •   Aviation Power Plant Mechanics ($54,500)
  •   Aviation Airframe Mechanics ($54,500)

The highest tuition for the classes above is ($8,833) for 24 months, for Automotive Service Technology, which comes to about $4,400 per year. ALL of us need competent mechanics and repair persons, so isn’t it great that they can get excellent training right here in Collier County? (And 90% stay in Collier County!)

How about Tech Fields? Yes, LWTC has those too, and there are opportunities to certify in different specialties that may enable a student to obtain a position because of this training that another interested applicant might not have. Interested in Digital Media/Multimedia Design? 10 months and earn average $36,800. How about Network Support Services? 11 months and earn average $40,300 or Web Application and Design? Eleven months and $56,200. These talented grads can work in almost company or large organization that has computers. Come to think of it, are there any out there that don’t have computers?

You’re probably asking; Where does career awareness begin in our Pre-K to 12 grade levels. Well, there are opportunities that begin in elementary school for students to learn about careers, through field trips, speakers in classrooms and school programs. They ramp up a bit in middle school and increase exposure in high school with a thoughtful progression of career interest assessments, video workshops, on-site visits to arts centers, colleges, tours of programs offered at colleges and career counseling for those who need it.

Are there night classes? Yes. You can attend regular high school during the day and take some classes at night. For example, Private Investigation for all you super sleuths is one offered from 6-9 PM, or how about Glass and Glazing or Welding?

There are also online courses. For more information on the Online Curriculum go to

Can you answer the question in the title? I can! Without reservation, CCPS is right on top of preparing our workforce. They’ve been at this for 43 years (since 1974) and offer 30 technical programs with an 81% job placement rate. Please share this with middle school and high school students who may know NOTHING about these opportunities, they’ll be as surprised as I’ll bet you are!

For more information about LWTC and Career Readiness, go to then to Board Meetings, then to School Board Work Session January, 22, 2018 and start the video recording.

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

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