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Career Technical Education/ Trade Schools

The terms technical schools, vocational schools, career technical education schools, and trade schools are often used interchangeably. A trade school or career college offers specialized training to students who are interested in a particular industry or career. At these colleges, students are not required to take general education classes in all subjects. You take classes only in your field of study — for example, culinary arts, firefighting, dental hygiene, cosmetology, computer technology or medical records technology.

Career technical education is a great option for those with a specific career plan, who know exactly which industry and job position they are aiming for. When you complete your program, you receive a certificate of completion or an associate degree. Upon graduation from a vocational college, you will be prepared to go after the career of your choice, whether your goal is to work as a legal assistant, medical billing and coding specialist, computer programmer, or graphic designer. You can become an asset to businesses, government offices, and contractors with an education that prepares you to make a seamless transition into the work force.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs are offered at career training schools, community colleges, career colleges and online schools and allow students to learn specific career skills in order to obtain a job or specialize in their careers. Professional bodies and corporations also award professional certifications, generally following successful completion of an exam. Some professional non-degree certifications may need to be renewed periodically, while others must only be completed once.

Some students choose to obtain certification instead of obtaining a degree, while others take certificate programs to enhance the degrees they've completed. A professional or trade certification is a designation that demonstrates a worker's qualification to perform his or her job. Non-degree certication often increases chances for employment or promotion.


A Union apprenticeship is the only formal, structured, and nationally recognized education and training program available that combines the two most common forms of career and occupational learning: classroom instruction with on-the-job training. Students learn and practice all phases of the trade/occupation in real-world applications. Registered Apprenticeship programs may take from 1-6 years to complete, depending on the occupation. Most programs are 3-4 years in length. The benefits of the Union Apprenticeship Programs include the opportunity to learn while you earn; state-of-the-art training; career advancement opportunities; excellent wages and benefits; safe working conditions; and pride and dignity. Apprenticeships are available for many professions including, but not limited to: Plumber, Bricklayer, Firefighter, Construction Surveyor, Electrician, Automotive, and Culinary & Pastry.

Each union apprenticeship has different eligibility and admission requirements. Generally, however, to be eligible, you must be at least age 18; able to perform the work of the trade; and you may also be required to present verification of a high school diploma or GED certificate. You may also be required to demonstrate the ability to read, write and speak English in order to comprehend instruction in related training classes and ensure safety on the job.

Skill Sets

One of the key competitive advantages of a liberal arts education in general, and of a Juniata experience in particular, is the development of a well-rounded set of skills that are valuable to an employer.
  • Employability skills and personal values are the critical tools and aptitudes you need to succeed in the workplace, and they are abilities that you can cultivate and hone over your lifetime.
  • Identify your skill-sets and values, document them and market them (in your resume, cover letter, and interview answers).
  • Be sure you can provide evidence of how you developed the skills you claim. For example, if you developed team-work skills by participating in group projects for academic classes, be prepared to talk about those projects, know which classes, and have one or two examples regarding how you performed in that group.
Workplace Skill-Sets Sought by Employers: These are critical skills employers seek in prospective employees.
  • Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written) - One of the skills mentioned most often by employers as critical to their success.
  • Analytical/Research Skills - Deals with your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed.
  • Computer/Technical Literacy - Almost all jobs now require some basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and email.
  • Managing Multiple Priorities - Deals with your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments.
  • Interpersonal Abilities - The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day.
  • Leadership/Management Skills - While there is some debate about whether leadership is something people are born with, these skills deal with your ability to take charge and manage your co-workers.
  • Multicultural Sensitivity/Awareness - There is possibly no bigger issue in the workplace than diversity, and job-seekers must demonstrate a sensitivity and awareness to other people and cultures.
  • Planning/Organizing - Deals with your ability to design, plan, organize, and implement projects and tasks within an allotted timeframe. Also involves goal-setting.
  • Problem-Solving/Reasoning/Creativity - Involves the ability to find solutions to problems using your creativity, reasoning, and past experiences along with the available information and resources.
  • Teamwork - Because so many jobs involve working in one or more work-groups, you must have the ability to work with others in a professional manner while achieving a common goal.
Personal Values Sought by Employers: Of equal importance to skills are the values, personality traits, and personal characteristics that employers seek. Look for ways to weave examples of these characteristics into your resume, cover letters, and answers to interview questions.
  • Integrity - Involves demonstrating that you are honest, fair, and moral. Employers need to believe that you will not steal from the company, cheat on your time card, or lie on your resume.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Involves being able to work in a variety of environments, both as a self-starting individual and as part of a team.
  • Strong Work Ethic - Involves being at work on time and every day, being a good time-manager and always giving your best effort to your employer.
  • Responsible - Involves being accountable for your actions, not passing the buck, performing the tasks you are called to do.
  • Loyalty - Involves always speaking highly about your company/employer in public, always representing your employer positively and professionally, never using trade secrets to help yourself or someone else.
  • Positive Attitude - Involves demonstrating that you are motivated and passionate about your employer and the work you do. Also that you promote a positive work environment and keep negativity and gossip at bay.
  • Professionalism - Involves appropriate behavior and dress at all times, handling workplace difficulties with maturity and always acting in the best interest of your employer.
  • Self-Confidence - Involves being self-assured in your abilities to provide what the company needs. Do not confuse self-confidence with arrogance. Expressing your ability to learn what the employer needs you to know is confidence. Ensuring your employer that you already know everything you need is arrogance.
  • Self-Motivation - Involves having the ability to figure out what you need to do and then do it and having the capability to work with little or no supervision.
  • Willingness to Learn - Different from your ability to learn in that you should always be willing to learn a new skill, process, or technique.


Career Choice

Selecting a career direction can be an overwhelming task. There are thousands of occupations from which to choose and the pressure to make "the" correct choice is enormous. The quick choice to relieve this pressure is often not the best choice. Career planning begins with understanding both yourself and your environment and integrating the two to select a congruent academic program of emphasis and the related occupational directions.
Check out these links to help you with your career decisions-

Self Discovery

  • Focus – Juniata's on-line interest assessment instrument. Access Code: Eagles
  • Personality 100 – Learning about your personality may help you determine a good career path.