Certified for life!

I work in higher education. I have an undergraduate degree in Mass Communications and a master’s degree in leadership for higher education. So, it is safe to say that I know there is value in a college degree. However, I didn’t start there.

I was always a capable student, but didn’t apply myself properly in high school, struggling to graduate and feeling like the only option was the local community college, or as I called it “13th grade.” I was miserable! I felt stuck. I had no idea there were other options, until I started to look into vocational training programs.

It was then that I found an 8-month program where I could study massage therapy and qualify to sit for the state board examination. I was so excited about this prospect I even lobbied the school to let me start classes 6 months before I turned 21, their age requirement for admission. I was successful.

This short-term, focused, affordable, and relevant training allowed me to start out on my own at 21 with a piece of paper that opened a lot of doors. Over the course of almost 7 years, I worked for chiropractors, acupuncturists, a couple of spas, and even for myself as a mobile massage business.

I learned so much! I learned about myself, my motivations, what gives my work value and the struggles of both working for others and working for yourself. I learned about the marketplace. I saw how niche areas can be more consistently profitable, how some items are quickly categorized as unnecessary when money is tight, and I learned about the burden of expenses, taxes, and overhead when trying to run a small business.

After learning all of this, I made an informed decision to return to college in my late 20s with a new attitude and commitment.  As I understand the value of my college experience, I never forget how much I learned while working in a skilled trade. I’m thrilled that this conversation is starting to occur more and that school systems are reintroducing the importance of certificate and trade training programs.

Current studies show that “students who earn certification have an increased graduation rate, higher G.P.A., increased post-secondary enrollment, and improved confidence.  The Florida Career and Professional Education department…shows an average G.P.A. of 3.09 for students with certification compared to 2.72 for students without certification.  An impressive 97.2% of students with certification graduate compared to 83.9% of students without.” (Pearson, 2019).

This is also a great path, or first step, for those who can’t afford college or find that a good-paying job is more immediately important than the recommended “college-experience.” For high school students or adults, earning a certificate can mean a “full-time employment rate [that] is 7 percentage points higher than for those without a certificate or certification” and they can see “a median annual income of $45,000, versus $30,000 for those without a credential.” (Strada, 2019).

Maybe it is a lifetime career, or like my experience, a chance to make a positive first step in your journey toward what you really want to do in life. Whatever it is, certification is a beneficial and productive option that is needed and valuable to our communities and economy.

Whether you’re an individual seeking a path in life or just a short-term option, or an agency providing workforce training to members of your community, vocational certification training programs are a great way to discover potential, secure financial security, and build confidence!

I know first-hand how blessed I was to find a certificate program that gave me a chance to earn a living while figuring out more about myself and what I wanted to do in life. I hope everyone can find an option that gives them this chance. Whether this training is for a lifetime career or just as a way to earn a living in the short-term, no education is wasted.  

How can we help? Brighton College offers training to individuals, while also providing agencies with industry certification programs through affordable delivery models and furnishing dual-enrollment certification programs to high schools that include examination vouchers. We just want to see everyone have access to options where they can realize their potential and become self-sufficient and productive members of our communities!   

CertiPort Pearson. Retrieved on November 7, 2019 from: https://certiport.pearsonvue.com/About/The-value-of-certification.aspx

Strada Education Network. Retrieved on November 7, 2019 from: https://www.stradaeducation.org/report/certified-value/

Written by Roxanne Palmer, M.S.Ed., Brighton College VP of National Accounts