Nick Catania had an unusual problem. He couldn’t go to his choice college, let alone pursue his choice major, but for an unusual reason: he was offered a full time job with benefits right out of high school.
Catania is one of many students to graduate from a technical high school in 2016. While there, he studied Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) while still meeting all state-required high school coursework.
“Carbon G, Electrical, Graphic Design, Information Technology, Engineering... they’re all things that you can get a job right out of high school with,” said Catania.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), public technical schools account for just 3.7% of all public high schools, enrolling on average the same number of students (204) per grade as regular high schools (209.2).
“Most kids don’t take what technical schools have to offer,” said Catania.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for HVAC technicians in 2014 was $46,880 per year. That’s $22.54 per hour, and about $3,000 less per year than Bachelor’s Degree holders.
Catania said that PennTech, the Institution he had planned on attending, would have cost him $32,000 a year, and they don’t offer scholarships.
For a four-year program, he did the math: “You’re looking at over $100,000.”
Catania explained that his interest in HVAC is due to stability in the job market.
“These kids are going away and easily spending over $100,000 in student loans. They graduate, and there’s no jobs, everything’s backed up. I know a lot of kids who graduated college and can’t find anything and I didn’t want to be stuck in that.”
Catania said students need to get more creative about their options after high school.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going away to college but, you know more kids need to open their eyes to more options…” he said. “They just keep saying go away to college go away to college, well, that’s not the best option for everyone.”