2020 Louisiana Next: Your Guide to Life After High School

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CLOUD COMPUTING  IT specialist in file storage, cloud processes, and data management

Works across several servers and platforms Average pay: $80,000

WELDER  Takes metal components and uses extreme heat to fuse them together to form a final product

Works in industrial, motor vehicle, shipbuilding, construction and steel industries Average pay: $40,000

PHLEBOTOMIST  Draws blood and collects samples

Works in hospitals, labs, clinics, surgical centers Average pay: $33,000


Not every student’s path includes getting a four-year degree. For those who want to step into the working world as soon as possible, Louisiana offers many jobs in the skilled trades that provide a desirable income after only a short amount of time obtaining the necessary credentials. Louisiana’s Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), comprised of 12 comprehensive community and technical colleges across the state, offers short-term workforce programs in addition to two-year associate degrees. While the ongoing health pandemic has caused much of the coursework to go online, schools are still offering the same programs with classes being taught “live” through platforms like Zoom, says Quintin Taylor, chief public affairs officer of LCTCS. All of the hands-on technical instruction is being done according to current health guidelines to ensure student and faculty safety, he says. Some programs, such as the commercial driver’s license program and a wide variety of healthcare certification programs, are in higher demand since the start of the pandemic. For example, students are able to earn a CDL and become a certified driver during a 4- to 6-week program depending on the level of certification. Many people may not realize these drivers have a starting salary of between $45,000 and $60,000, Taylor says. “At every level of healthcare, the demand is greater, and they need people,” Taylor adds. Other programs (such as IT, welding, process technology, electrical line technology, and HVAC) are still steady fields where students earn well-paying jobs after completing their courses. Taylor says LCTCS staff are in frequent communication with economic development organizations around the state such as the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, Central Louisiana Economic Alliance and others to make sure community and technical colleges are offering programs to meet the needs of businesses. “We’re offering programs that are alive to the market,” Taylor says. “Our programs are half the cost (of a four-year degree) and provide twice the value.”