Opportunity Expo: Not all good jobs require a college degree

EVERETT – Remember when good jobs were hard to find without a college education?

Not anymore.

At the Opportunity Expo for high school juniors Tuesday at Everett Community College they were able to find all kinds of opportunities. That is great news for students who don’t like school. There is hope just around the corner. There are opportunities in carpentry, for pipefitters, real estate, military and more.

A sampling:

•For students who love video games, Digipen in Redmond may be the place for you. Natalie Grenfell, a senior outreach coordinator, said 55 percent of its students come from Washington. “We have a great relationship with gamers,” she said, adding that half of their graduates go to work at Microsoft. Many others get jobs at one of the 370-related businesses nearby. “We’re at the heart of it,” she said of the gaming industry. That’s why 45 percent of their students come from out of state. She said about 1,000 students apply each year and about 55 percent are accepted. The technology school is ranked No. 1 in median salary for grads, she added.

•David Johnson is an admissions advisor for the Academy of Interactive Entertainment at the Seattle Center. They offer a two-year program where students develop a portfolio of work in gaming, art and animation. “Seattle is the hub of all gaming,” he said as to why the Australian company put down roots there. “You will eat, sleep and breathe this stuff and have no life for a few years,” he said, adding if your mom calls you to dinner and you say, “Just a minute” a number of times, “You’re our kind of student.” Johnson said the academy shows students what it’s like to work full-time. The program is 2 1/2 days a week so students can work if they want. •Mario Soto is an admissions representative for Perry Technical Institute in Yakima. It offers training in so many areas, including: one-year programs in automotive technology, construction, medical assistant and welding; 1 1/2-year program in business technology and accounting; and two-year programs in automation, technology and communications, and heating and air conditioning. For the electrician program, participants can become a journeyman in only four years, rather than six. The institute will add plumbing to its offerings next fall.

•Heather Axtman, public information officer in Marysville for the Washington State Patrol, said they have 75 openings statewide right now. She explained candidates need to have just a high school diploma or GED. “Our academy is your criminal justice degree,” she said. She added that candidates can start applying at age 19 1/2. There are written tests and physicals, polygraphs and a background check. But those who pass go to the academy and can be making $54,000 plus early in life and get a patrol car to use from home. Not that most young people think about such things, but they can receive full retirement after 25 years and have plenty of life left to do something else.

•If you want a job right now, the best opportunity looks to be with the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center. In three months, you can be working in Aerospace and Manufacturing. The training is at Paine Field in Everett, and you don’t even need a diploma. Retention specialist Cindy Fisher said that used to be a requirement, but since students learn on the job they wanted to make it “quick and easy to get in.” About 50 percent of graduates work at Boeing, she said, adding most others work for other aerospace suppliers. Fisher said 87 percent of their graduates get a job. “We’re the best-kept secret,” she said.

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