• Allison Styffe

Trades Fair Takeaways

The term trades refers to careers that involve specialization in a particular occupation. They often require work experience, on-the-job training, and sometimes formal vocational education, but not a bachelor's degree. There are two general types of skilled trades: (1) Industrial & construction trades, such as electricians, welders, plumbers, carpenters, equipment operators, steel workers, etc. and (2) Service trades, such as dental hygienists,

paramedics, cosmetologists, leather workers, veterinary technicians, pilots, chefs, etc.


These types of occupations are overlooked when people assume that a bachelor's, master's, or even doctoral degree is the only path to a successful career. However, research indicates that there are many students with certificates and associate’s degrees who earn more money than those with bachelor's degrees. For those of you looking to jump into a career sooner rather than later with fewer student loans and more on-the-job training, trades work might be the right path!


Last week, Baker students and staff attended the Central Oregon Skilled Trades Fair to learn about the latest trends and opportunities in these fields. Here are some of our main takeaways from the event:


  • Lowe's "Track to the Trades" Program Lowe's has rolled out a skilled trades program that provides Lowe's employees who have worked there for 6+ months with the opportunity to launch a career in the trades. They have designed tracks for five key skilled trades — carpentry, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and appliance repair — and will pay for your education and help pair you with an apprenticeship. For those of you interested in these industrial trades, consider taking advantage of this awesome program!

  • Veterinary Technicians We learned that vet techs actually have much more time with animals than a veterinarian — who would’ve guessed? If you enjoy animals big and small, and would prefer to spend your time addressing their comfort and care, this is the job for you! As a veterinary technician, you are trained and certified to perform a wide range of medical procedures on animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. And lucky for you, it requires a 2-year associates degree — that's about six fewer years of college to be a veterinary technician than a veterinarian. The growth rate in this industry is much faster than average, and median salaries are in the range of $34,000 per year. There are two accredited programs for veterinary technicians in Oregon: Portland Community College and Central Oregon Community College.

  • Pilot shortage Did you know the U.S. needs more pilots? We learned this trade is in high demand right now for a couple of reasons: (1) retiring pilots outnumber pilots entering the field and (2) the amount of passengers/cargo is growing at a quick rate. This means there are more and more flights, but fewer and fewer people to fly them. There are countless opportunities for pilots other than flying for commercial airlines or private charters, such as agricultural pilots or those who give aerial tours. While the education required to become a pilot is expensive, the training is relatively quick and the occupation pays very well (an average of $115,670 per year according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook). If you're interested in becoming a pilot, check out Central Oregon Community College's aviation program.

  • Cosmetology College A newer development is that Phagan’s Cosmetology Colleges accept the FAFSA and offers federal financial aid — we’re very excited that some financial pathways are opening up to make this a more affordable option. With locations in Bend, Corvallis, Grants Pass, Medford, and Salem, there is a college somewhere near you. If creating beauty and working with hair, esthetics, or nail technology speaks to you, check out this option. While the programs take anywhere from 4 to 17 months to complete, the cost can seem a bit high ($6,000-$20,000). Remember that time is money, though, and 90% of applicants receive financial aid or scholarships. Check out the Beauty Changes Lives scholarship website, and apply between Dec. 1 and Feb. 29, 2020. Phagan’s Cosmetology Colleges are now accepting applications, and a high school diploma is your major requirement.

  • Military careers Every branch of service was present at the Central Oregon Skilled Trades Fair, and we wanted to share the benefits and risks of joining the military after high school. The first thing that’s compelling is the ability to enter a service-oriented and fulfilling career with no student debt and guaranteed financial benefits. More importantly, military service provides you the opportunity to learn skills that will benefit you for life, such as responsibility, focus, and discipline. All five military branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard — provide training programs and career paths in dozens of fields, including arts, photography, media, aviation, engineering, computer systems, healthcare, human resources, meteorology, and much more. Read here on how to join the military. The risks are obvious — the military protects our country during times of war and natural disaster. In addition, all enlistees, regardless of service branch, commit to a minimum of eight years of service. Most enlistees should expect four years of active duty and four years of inactive reserves. An inactive reservist can be called to active duty due to a national emergency. Your major requirement is to take the ASVAB test and pass a physical exam to join the military. Baker Charter Schools will be offering the ASVAB in January at our Bend and Portland locations — be looking for information coming soon on this. This test will be good practice if you plan to join the military in the future, or as a career exploration tool.

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