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Career & On-the-Job Training


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Career-oriented training refers to short-term, job specific education programs which can be completed in usually less than two years.  Sometimes referred to as trade or vocational training, career courses are available at community and technical colleges and specialty schools.  Examples of careers that require this type of education are hair dressers, real estate agents, bookkeepers, dental assistants, nursing assistants, chefs, etc.  

In Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Workforce Development System (CWDS) is a valuable resource for individuals seeking career training, whether you are new to the workforce or looking at changing careers.  The CWDS website has career research information, lists vocational training programs across the commonwealth, and links to additional supportive services.  Each county also has a CareerLink office or affiliate for in-person services.

The PA Department of Education (PDE) also has information on career and technical education for high school students.  There are over 80 career and technology centers (CTCs) and over 120 school districts that offer PDE approved education programs that focus both on academic and technical skills necessary in today’s workforce. 

On-the-job training is learning and skill development that occurs in the normal course of a job. Every job has some level of on-the-job training, but we’re referring to formal training programs, sometimes called apprenticeships.  These programs may offer classes along with hands-on skill building or just learning alongside a seasoned craftsperson.  Unlike other career training, you are actually an employee receiving a paycheck!  Examples of careers that involve formal on-the-job training are law enforcement officers, carpenters, electricians, commercial pilots, jewelers, etc. 

The US Department of Labor’s website, Registered Apprenticeship, has information on Pennsylvania’s programs.  As of September, 2014, there are 2350 occupations listed throughout the commonwealth, complete with sponsor’s name and contact information.  

Some careers also require certifications and/or licenses issued by the commonwealth to practice here in Pennsylvania.  Certificates are earned through an accredited education program at an academic institution.Certifications are granted by organizations (independent of the required education programs) that assess the competency of an individual to perform a specific occupation or profession.  A license is legal permission to perform certain services or activities.  (See the Advanced Degrees, Designations, & Certifications section to learn more.)

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