Career and Technical Education at LB
Career and Technical Education, or CTE for short, is education that combines both academic and skill-based learning designed to prepare students for a wide range of high-skill, high-wage, high-demand careers without the requirement of a four-year college degree.
With the soaring cost of college tuition — $9,400 per year at public universities (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2022) — many students are looking for more inexpensive ways to enter the skilled workforce. For many of these students, CTE is the answer.
CTE includes traditional trades programs such as welding, machine tool technology and automotive technology. But it also includes programs many people wouldn’t consider trades, like graphic design, dental assisting, and culinary arts. The extensive amount of programs available makes CTE a highly accessible route to high-paying careers for many students.
CTE has been a cornerstone of education at Linn-Benton Community College since its inception in 1966. According to the course catalog for the 1967-68 school year, the largest course offerings fell under the Automotive Mechanics program. Today, LBCC offers a wide range of CTE degrees in the following areas:
Health Occupations (Nursing, Medical Assisting, Radiology Technician, Occupational Therapy, and Dental Assisting)
Early Childhood Education
Welding / Pipe Trades
Machine Tool Technology
Automotive Technology / Heavy Equipment and Diesel
The Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation Technology (AMTT) Division of LBCC houses a large portion of the CTE programs. Associate Dean of the division, Dale Moon, said, “Our programs at LBCC are here because these are what local industry has asked us for…we are providing a very strong workforce for businesses who want to come into Linn and Benton counties benefiting our local economy.”
In turn, the CTE programs at LBCC bring in a lot of funding for both their programs and the college as a whole. Local businesses support the college through both monetary and equipment donations allowing the CTE programs to grow and meet ever changing industry needs.
Moon also serves as the Perkins Regional Coordinator for the area, working directly with local high schools and school districts to develop CTE programs at the high school level.
“One thing we’re trying to accomplish at the high school level is to remove the negative stigma that has been associated with CTE programs in the past,” Moon said. “These programs are highly beneficial to students and are not just a ‘last resort’ for students who don’t do well in the classroom, as was once believed.”
“In highschools, principals and teachers are seeing the value of CTE programs because they give students more hands-on applications for learning,” Moon continued. “For example, say a student who has a hard time learning math from a textbook is now getting hands-on math examples in a CTE class and being able to physically apply the math they’re learning, this can really help students to grasp those concepts.”
Marc Rose, an instructor in the Welding and Pipe program at LBCC says, “People who choose CTE and careers in the trades are not given enough credit for how intelligent and educated they are. It takes a special kind of person to do these kinds of jobs. People don’t realize that it takes more brain than brawn for these specialized jobs.”
“We have students who started out in a four-year college and decided that’s not for them. They come over to the trades and think ‘Holy cow! This is awesome!’” Rose continued. “Twenty years ago we all thought that in order to be successful you have to have a four year degree, and now we’re figuring out that’s not true. There are highly successful people who have two-year technical degrees.”
Though CTE programs have been growing in popularity over the last decade, there are still many people who don’t know they’re even an option.
“I give tours to community partners and educators all the time and when a lot of them learn about our programs and the types of careers and pay people can have with a two-year degree a lot of them say, ‘I wish I would have known this was an options when I went to school,’ because back then we were told the trades weren’t as good as four-year degrees,” said Rose.
In an effort to increase awareness of and promote the CTE programs available at LBCC, the college is hosting a Manufacturing Day Open House on October 21 from 9 AM – 2 PM in the CTE courtyard on the main campus. Anyone who is interested in learning more about CTE, a career in the trades, or seeing the brand new facilities and equipment in our CTE departments is welcome to come.