Pursuing a Skilled Trade Career Is a Smart Choice at Any Age and Stage of Life


By John Willis, MIAT College of Technology Houston Campus President

Career colleges and vocational-technical institutions are perfect choices for adults at any age and stage of life. Pursuing a “skilled trade career” is the wise and practical “first choice” for recent high school graduates who have studied vocations courses, for U.S. military veterans, and for those who are looking to make a career change.

There are many advantages of obtaining education and training in a skilled trade such as aviation maintenance, welding, nursing, firefighting, law enforcement and others that do not require a four-year degree.  A blog post by “Work It Daily” based on the philosophy of Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame, offered the following top five reasons why an individual should work in a skilled trade-related field:

  1. Trade jobs are more active.
  2. One does not need to invest in an expensive education.
  3. One does not need to take time off from earning money.
  4. There’s no shortage of work.
  5. The working hours can be more flexible.

Please follow this link to access the entire article.


Other reasons that I hear from our students attending MIAT College of Technology in Houston include “I like working with my hands.” “I want to love what I do.” “I am not a person who likes sitting at a desk. I have to work outside!”  “My friend (or relative) is in XYZ field and has been trying to persuade me for ages to get certified.”

I am confident that if I were to ask our almost 400 students why they are enrolled in one of our programs at MIAT, I would get many more interesting and honest responses. For all of us, being practical about how we secure the training and skills necessary to earn a living as well as how we spend our days and nights is extremely prudent – and realistic.  That said, the process of choosing a career as a teenager will vary significantly from that of the decision-making process of a person in his or her 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s who might be looking to change careers, expand his or her experience and earning power, or remain productive and earning income well past the traditional retirement age of 65.

An article in LIveCareer offers this guidance for high school students:

  1. Take time to think about what you like to do, and dream and imagine ideal careers.
  1. Challenge yourself in high school, but don’t overwhelm yourself.
  2. Work, volunteer, or otherwise gain experience.
  3.   Get as much education as possible.
  4. Talk with as many adults as possible about jobs and careers, colleges and technical schools.
  5. Remember that everyone must follow his or her own path in life.
  6. People change; don’t feel locked into any college or career now.
  7. Don’t let anyone else control your dreams and ambitions.
  8. It’s never too early nor too late to get organized and begin making plans.
  9. Commit to always learning and growing.

To read the full article, please follow this link:



Our high school recruiters work daily with teachers and counselors in the greater Houston area to identify the right students for our programs. At the Houston campus of MIAT College of Technology, graduating high school seniors comprise about 25 percent of our student population, and we anticipate that percentage will increase in the coming years.  

In addition, MIAT provides a full-time aviation maintenance instructor at H. Ross Sterling Aviation High School in Houston. Sterling High School students who complete the aviation maintenance program are equipped with training valued at approximately $20,000 at no cost to them. Sterling High School graduates can continue their studies at MIAT to complete an aviation maintenance technician certification as young as 19 or 20 years old — which then equips them for a job with an airline, a corporate flight department, or an independent aviation maintenance facility.

Changing Careers

Not all high school graduates will proceed directly to a four-year college, university, career college or vocational technical school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.7 percent of high school graduates had enrolled in college in October 2016.

So, what are the other 30 percent or so doing?

Many individuals enter the work force with little or no education or training post-high school. Once a person enters the work force, “Career Reality” hits. Facing the day-to-day realities of earning a pay check sometimes leaves a worker feeling that job responsibilities are not rewarding or gratifying. Or that the work schedule does not allow enough personal or family time. Or that the compensation and benefits packages are unsatisfactory.  Or maybe he or she simply gains clarity that pursuing a career in another field would be more productive and more enjoyable.

According to 2015 and 2016 data from the Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 6.2 million workers (4 percent of the total workforce) transferred from one occupational group to another. At MIAT’s Houston campus, approximately 75 percent of our students are employed full-time or part-time and are also attending classes full-time in the morning or at night – and approximately 30 percent of these students are U.S. military veterans.

For those already in the work force who want to change careers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers these five key tips:

Tip 1: Figure out your “why” – what is driving your desire to make a change?

Tip 2: Look at the data – what is the industry outlook for the job for which you are seeking training or certification?

Tip 3: Connect with others in your field of interest through networking activities, conducting informational interviews, and making key contacts at companies and organizations that may yield future employment opportunities

Tip 4. Match your skills and interests to the job you are seeking in a new field and be proactive in your job search.

Tip 5. Get more information via the Internet, libraries, industry and professional associations, job fairs, discussions with career coaches, and tours of colleges, universities and vocational-technical institutions.

(Source: www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2017/article/new-career.htm)

Consultations and Tours Welcome at MIAT

MIAT faculty and staff are well-equipped to assist prospective students, their family members, and high school counselors with information for navigating the decision-making process related to pursuing a skilled trade career — regardless of age or tenure in the work place. We offer an extensive 90-minute interview process to help our prospective students to determine if our programs are right for them.

Additionally, we invite prospective students to tour our campus where they can meet current students and instructors to learn more about our approach to education and training.

To learn more about our program offerings and to schedule a tour of our Houston campus, please visit miat.edu/campuses/houston-texas/

As always, I appreciate your interest in the topic of skilled trade careers and the opportuAviation Techniciannity to serve as a resource to you and yours.