Archive for Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Career certificate programs abundant in area

July 15, 2009

A change in careers doesn’t have to be as scary, or take as long, as one might think.

With a number of schools in the area offering convenient and nonlengthy career certificate programs, the greatest problem will be choosing which career to pursue.

The pinnacle of success

At Pinnacle Career Institute in Lawrence, choices range from programs in medical assisting and medical billing and coding to massage therapy. In each of the fields, classes take, at most, 11 months to complete.

The nine-month massage therapy program focuses in on classes related to body wraps and deep tissue massage, in addition to prenatal, geriatric, sports and infant massage classes.

“Just the whole range of modalities,” said Ashley Nottingham, student success coordinator at Pinnacle.

Toward the end of their program, massage therapy students take part in clinic classes, where they work with real-live members of the public.

Pinnacle also offers a certificate program in personal training, where students take classes related to anatomy, exercise psychology and wellness and ethics. This program is 11 months long, and includes a one-week boot camp in Las Vegas during which the students take tests to become nationally certified.

“We were 10 times more prepared for it (than other people taking the national certification test),” said recent Pinnacle graduate Josh Biles, who has already started his own personal training business, G.R.I.T.T. Fitness. “We were actually teaching other students while we were out there, getting them ready for the tests.”

Nottingham said students were given regular practice with and advisement as to building their resume and job interviewing techniques. They are also given a lot of assistance with landing a job.

“We have an entire system set up to help place our students,” Nottingham said. “We care that they end up in a job.”

Pinnacle is fully accredited, and students can qualify for federal student aid.

Pinnacle Career Institute also has two locations in the Kansas City area and offers online courses as well. For more information, contact Pinnacle at (800) 614-0900.

On the road

Those looking to hit the road FOR a truck driving career certificate, should keep in mind Roadmaster Drivers School in Kansas City, Mo.

“We have the most intensive, comprehensive training program of any of the (other two truck driving schools in the area),” said Roadmaster director Lloyd Barnes. “They don’t have the placement capability for jobs after training as we have.”

Roadmaster offers a four-week program of training and preparation for the Class A commercial driver’s license test – a necessary requirement to become a certified truck driver. One week is spent in the classroom, where students will view videos and sit in on lectures related to driving a truck professionally, and the rest of the time is spent either on the three-acre practice yard at the school or on the road learning such skills as parallel parking, how to drive on hills and straight-line and offset backing out maneuvers.

“We put them through every driving condition they’re apt to run into in real life in real traffic,” Barnes said.

Barnes said once the course is completed and a student has passed the certification test, finding a job isn’t too hard.

Roadmaster is “very well recognized among all the major over-the-road carriers,” Barnes said of the school, noting that Roadmaster works with several carriers to make job placement easier for students. “We can’t guarantee anyone will get placed, but our certification is enough to get them hired. It’s recognized throughout the industry.”

Mostly men between the ages of 22 and 62 take the course, Barnes said, but some women do as well. Four-week classes start every Monday, making it easy to get enrolled without having to wait for the next available course.

Barnes said that financial aid was available, and even state funding for those students who are taking the course because they have been laid off from previous jobs. The majority of carriers Roadmaster works with on job placement will also offer tuition reimbursement, he said.

For more information, contact Roadmaster at (800) 831-1300.

To video gaming and beyond

Kansas City Kansas Community College offers a wide assortment of credit and noncredit career certificate programs, from one on motorcycle safety to another on fire science to learning how to draw blood in the phlebotomy technician class.

A 90-hour program, phlebotomy technician coursework teaches students the fundamentals of anatomy and physiology, while giving them much needed practice in the art of drawing blood from a patient. At the end of the course, each student must do a clinical experience, where they will spend 100 hours in a hospital drawing blood from at least 100 people.

Coordinator of career and continuing professional education Larry Hill said students are given many opportunities throughout any of the career programs they choose to guarantee themselves a position once they complete the course.

“We are in contact with hospitals and clinics and we look for job openings and make students aware of job openings,” Hill said, adding that many instructors in the career certificate programs are actual professionals in the field who are often looking to hire, making finding a job for students even that much easier.

KCKCC, in conjunction with Gatlin Education Services, also offers a number of online career certificate program in a diverse range of subjects, such as casino management, wedding planning and video game design.

Hill said the video game design and development course was one of the most popular online offerings at KCKCC. It covers such areas of study as math, programming languages and artificial intelligence algorithms.

“We have just about everything that anyone would need,” said Sue Courtney, dean of business and acting dean of continuing education, of the career certificate program at KCKCC.

Hill said financing opportunities and payment plans were available and that, around $59 a credit hour, the courses were affordable. Though, he said, the noncredit programs were a bit more expensive.

Of course, with so many program options, students might feel overwhelmed when trying to decide which course they want to take. Courtney said that before deciding on any career change, it was important to do some research, such as conducting informal interviews and going online to see what can be found out about a given field, before enrolling in a program.

“I definitely think people should think it through,” she said.

For more information, contact KCKCC at (913) 334-1100.

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