Training in the trades a good investment


ready-for-work-by-tammy-mcintyreIn the report “Do the benefits of college still outweigh the costs?” (Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Current Issues, vol. 20, no. 3, 2014), economists Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz find that despite the soaring cost of attending college, the financial benefits of higher education still outweigh the expenses.

“In recent years, students have been paying more to attend college and earning less upon graduation — trends that have led many observers to question whether a college education remains a good investment,” the report states. The authors analyzed the earnings since the 1970s of workers with bachelor’s degrees, workers with associate’s degrees, and workers with high school diplomas to determine that college remains a good investment.

Trade schools and colleges offer flexible training opportunities to today’s workforce. Students can earn an associate degree, diploma, or certificate from trade schools in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. These colleges focus their efforts on staffing local industries, and graduates enjoy favorable place consideration by local employers.

Below is a survey of a few vocational programs in the Twin Cities area.

Career-focused study and nursing: Rasmussen College

Walter Rasmussen founded Rasmussen College with a mission to help students build better lives through career-focused education. More than a century later, the school’s focus remains the same.

Rasmussen is well known for its nursing programs. The nursing programs are designed to prepare students for success at every stage of a nursing career and throughout the healing process of their patients.

Practical Nursing Diploma can be completed in as few as 12 months. With no waiting list, this program allows students to start coursework upon program acceptance.Professional Nursing Associate’s degree can help you become a registered nurse (RN) in as few as 18 months. Students gain hands-on, real-world experience through in-depth coursework and practicum experiences.

Go here for more info.

Job training spotlight: Twin Cities Rise!

The Twin Cities RISE! Core Program provides a comprehensive work skills and Personal Empowerment training program, which leads to long-term success in a living-wage job. The curriculum is based on input from employers and the expertise of adult education professionals.

The Core Program requires a commitment of 12-15 hours per week while in training, with classes in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Each session lasts 10 weeks and includes a two-week period of formal evaluation. The curriculum includes:

Work Skills training: Courses including basic computer skills, communication, critical thinking, customer service and more.

Personal Empowerment: Courses with an emphasis on developing habits and attitudes of personal stability, responsibility, and professional success.

One-on-one coaching: An individual coach works with each participant during the program, job search, and a year into employment.

Employment placement: With concentrations in office support and operations, participants culminate their training program with a full time, living wage position.

Go here for program information.

Focus on technology: Dunwoody Institute

Dunwoody’s Computer Networking Technician program is an evening program that prepares graduates for positions in computer networking and IT support. Students learn basic computer logic and the practical application of computer operations and maintenance.

Founded in 1914, Dunwoody is a private, not-for-profit, endowed institution of higher education. It is also the only nonprofit technical college in the Upper Midwest and one of a handful nationwide. Dunwoody offers associate and bachelor’s degrees as well as a variety of certificate and diploma programs.

Go here for program information.

Salary and career outlook:  U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook

Salary and placement information for many occupations are covered in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). If you cannot find an occupation you are interested in, look under the A-Z Index, using similar occupational titles to search for an occupation. Or you can simply search for your occupation by entering the title into the “Search Handbook” box at the top of the website page.

Go to to view the handbook.


Look for regular “Ready for Work” columns on finding, keeping and succeeding in meaningful work. Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to