By Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, PRCC
The Picayune Item
Over the course of a typical week I have many people ask for career guidance, or help with getting a job. Of course I will ask several questions, such as what the person’s interests are, prior educational experiences and about prior work experience. Many times the conversation will lead to something about the desire to “stay close to home.”
If you are interested in “staying close to home” and working in south Mississippi and/or the greater gulf south in general, then you should visit your local community college. Community colleges usually gear their occupational programs to meet the needs of local employers. Students that enter occupational programs at the community college level typically seek to earn an Associate in Applied Science (AAS), a Certificate of Proficiency or a short term certificate that requires less than a year of study. Pearl River Community College (PRCC) is a perfect example of a college that caters to the needs of local industries.
The coast line, from Ala. to La., contains an area rich in ship building and marine fabrication. Obviously, there are many options to entering this profession, one of the highest demand areas being the metal trades. Historically these industries have recruited heavily for welders, ship-fitters, pipe-fitters and machinists. All of which can be accessed with an associate’s degree or some other post high school credential. PRCC offers two year AAS degrees and/or certificates in Welding and Cutting Technology as well as Precision Manufacturing and Machining Technology. There are also shorter term, non-credit programs in ship fitting, pipe fitting and welding offered at nights, weekends and during the summer. All of which can lead to a very good career path.
It is no secret that Americans are living longer and placing greater demands on the health care industry. Many high demand jobs in south Mississippi can be found in the medical and health arena. This includes careers in Nursing, Respiratory Care Technology, Physical Therapy Assistant Technology, Occupational Therapy Assistant Technology, Medical Radiologic Technology, Surgical Technology and others in the direct patient care arena. Entrance to these programs at PRCC is highly competitive. However, the rewards are high; the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov) projects that Registered Nurses will be the largest growth occupation nationwide, requiring more than 20 million new entrants by 2020.
Medical records and health information workers are also in high demand. PRCC offers both certificate and AAS degree programs that can lead to jobs in the health information arena. The Career One Stop web portal (www.careerinfonet.org) projects that the need for medical records and health information technicians will grow by 20% in the decade 2008-2018.
Of course, there are many other areas that are projected to grow and offer a good career path. Greater than 70 percent of all goods used by US consumers are delivered by tractor trailer (aka, big trucks). And of course PRCC offers this occupational field of study as well. The need for hair stylists (cosmetologists and barbers) is projected to grow by more than 12 percent in south Miss. Again, PRCC offers this too.
So the answer to the question “can you help me get a job?” comes with an answer; a resounding YES! But first, the job seeker must do some inner exploration and determine what he/she would like to do while living close to home. Then visit Pearl River Community College (www.prcc.edu) to get started.