Technical Programs Offer Alternatives to College

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COLUMBIA - For many people getting a bachelor's degree is a way to ensure a well paying job in the future, but the time commitment and rising costs have many people looking for other opportunities. Columbia Area Career Center administrators say many of its students can't afford to pay tuition at a four-year college.

"I think we're the way of the future," said Adult Programs Supervisor Jim Sharrock.

"I think it's very attractive," he said. "It's a quick turn around, and I think that's the advantage to our programs. You can go to school for a semester and get a job in phlebotomy."

The short timeline attracted Kim Hutcheson who is studying nursing to provide a better life for her son.

"When I had him, I knew it was time to do something serious to create stability for the both of us," she said.

After one year in the classroom and a program cost of about $11,000, Hutcheson will graduate as a Liscensed Practical Nurse.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found LPNs had a median salary of about $41,000 in 2012. Hutcheson said that will go a long way in helping her support her son and possibly continue her education to become a registered nurse.

"It's really, really increased my confidence," she said. "I'm pretty confident in finding a job. I've alread been offered a couple of positions while I did my clinicals in school."

Here is a list of other programs offered through the career center, along with the cost and projected salaries for each one. Salary estimates come from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012 data.

Program: Licensed Practical Nurse
Length:1 year - day classes
Cost: $11,300
Projected Income:$41,540

Program: Surgical Technologists
Length:1 year - day classes
Projected Income:$41,790

Program: AWS Welding
Length:1 year - evening classes
Cost: $8,995
Projected Income: $36,300

Program: Culinary Academy
Length: 7 months - evening classes and local internships
Projected Income: $42,480

Program: Massage Therapists
Length: 1 year - evening classes (also an accelerated day program)
Cost: $8,500
Projected Income: $35,970

Program: Phlebotomy
Length: 4 month - evening program
Cost: $999
Projected Income: $29,730

Program: Certified Nurse Assistant (CAN)
Length: 3-4 month - evening classes
Cost: $999
Projected Income: $24,420

Program: MoHealth WINS grant-funded Introduction to Maintenance Programs
Length: 4 month- evening program
Cost: Nothing for those who qualify for grant
Projected Income: $35,210

Program: Medical Coding
Length:18 months - evening classes
Cost: $6,000
Projected Income: $34,160

Program: HVAC
Length: 28 sessions/2 nights week for 4 months
Cost: $1650
Projected Income: $43,640

Program: Real Estate Agent
Length: 25 sessions, 2 nights/week for 3 months
Cost: $549
Projected Income: $51,930