Construction careers and college? Students from several counties get an education | Business
SALISBURY - In some ways it was a typical day for high school students from Cabarrus, Rowan, Kannapolis, Lincoln, and Gaston. They were playing some video games; actually high tech simulators, doing a little yard work; that is by testing John Deere commercial landscaping equipment, and driving around in a new Hyundai; well, a piece of heavy equipment made by the Korean automaker, so you can tell, it was far from typical.
The students were taking part in Construction Career Day, sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Transportation at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord.
"I thought it was pretty interesting," said Bryce Burns, a senior at West Rowan High School. "You drive three nails and see how fast you can get them in, there was a welding simulation to see how far you can weld, I tested and drove some equipment, hopefully I can use that in the near future."
Why not use it now? Couldn't these students just go from high school straight to work and save the time and expense of a college education?
That's the path many are able to take, but most we found don't want to do that.
"I want to be a zoo, animal biologist," said Brittany Ayotte.
And, according to a construction job recruiter, even those who will take jobs like the ones being demonstrated, can benefit from a college education.
"It's all joy stick, it's all computer, it's not a matter of sticking a key in the ignition and starting it up like in the old days" Mike Watkins told WBTV. "They have plenty of work on the highways right now."
Robin Perry is the director of career services at Catawba College. She pointed out how a college education is becoming more crucial with the advent of technology in so many more occupations.
"There's more high tech stuff in any industry now," Perry said. "And the IT folks, folks who know the computers and IT specialties are going to really be at an advantage."
Can you have it both ways? In some cases you can, colleges like CPCC offer college credit for those who complete an apprenticeship program in things like bricklaying, electrical work, and carpentry.
A recent US News study found that people with a college degree made an average of $20,000 more per year than those without, and the government says the degree is worth $1.3 in additional earnings over a lifetime.
On the other hand, the web site careerbliss.com points out that the job of construction worker is one of five that pays well without requiring a degree. The web site lists an average salary in construction at $58,300 annually for workers without a college degree.
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