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Some jobs pay well without a degree

June 08, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

While more education typically translates into higher earnings, there are jobs where people can earn good money without a four-year college degree.

One of those is a master auto technician who gets on-the-job training and, once certified, can earn as much as $50,000 to $70,000 or more annually, said Greg Miles, service manager for Sharrett Pontiac Buick GMC. High school graduates start out making about $9 an hour and it usually takes four years to become a master auto technician.

As president of Washington County Technical High School's Business and Education Council, Miles helps place students focusing on auto service technology at local companies where they can get on-the-job training while getting paid.

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Beginning the next school year, Miles said, he is going to start talking to high school freshman and sophomores about the vocational programs at the technical high school and the opportunities they can provide.

Many students and parents would be surprised to learn how much money an auto technician can make, Miles said. Where people who worked in dealerships were considered grease monkeys 20 years ago, they are now technicians with computer skills, he said.

A program like the one through the technical high school can help someone who couldn't afford to go to college get a well-paying job and get trained on the job without making the upfront investment college requires, Miles said.

Other programs at the technical high school where students can usually get jobs right out of high school include collision repair, printing, carpentry, electrical and cosmetology, said Steve Frame, the school's internship coordinator.

Some of the bigger or busier collision repair companies will pay $13 to $17 an hour, Frame said.

A printing graduate who gets some experience and skills in a particular area, such as offset printing or binding, could earn $40,000 to $50,000 a year, depending on the company, Frame said.

Hagerstown Community College's Job Training Institute will provide short-term training for people who are unemployed, underemployed or want to add skills needed for a job, said the institute's coordinator, Lisa Mowen.

Programs can take from two to three months to a year to complete. They include programs for Microsoft certification in networking technology or microcomputer software applications, truck driving, certified nursing assistants, a practical nursing program, computer-assisted design, graphic design technology and administrative assistants, Mowen said.

The programs help people who can't commit the time it takes to get a college degree, Mowen said.

Sometimes the people interested in these programs already have college degrees and are changing careers. Others are just entering the job market or discovered when searching for a job that they were missing required skills, Mowen said.

The institute's programs aren't necessarily new, but may have only been available before on a noncredit basis, said Peter Thomas, executive director of the Western Maryland Consortium. Programs for credit can allow people looking for training to apply for federal aid, Thomas said.

While some of the programs are already offered, the institute officially starts July 1, so many of the programs will be available this fall, Mowen said.

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