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As Demand for Skilled Workers Rises in Texas, Work-based Educational Programs See a Resurgence

A warehouse manager in Waco went from earning about $9 an hour to earning more than $140,000 a year, thanks to an associate degree.

In College Station, a student with a developmental disability worked at an animal hospital through a college program tailored to her needs.

And in Austin, a call center worker was paid by her employer to go to college so she could be promoted to a medical assistant position.

In these instances, the students pursued associate degrees, alternative college programs and industry certifications that offer Texans the chance to expand their career options and their salary potential in a state hungry for more qualified workers.

More than half of jobs in the state require a credential higher than a high school diploma but lower than a bachelor’s degree, according to a report from July 2022. It’s one reason the state is aiming for 60% of Texans ages 25 to 64 to have a certificate or degree by 2030. But just 45% of Texans have the right training for these middle-skilled jobs.

These college and career programs are far more varied than they used to be. Today, Texans across the state are learning everything from computer-aided design and drafting to piloting aircraft through associate degree or certificate programs — and they’ll likely make more money because of it.

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