Career education doesn't have to take four years

With all the talk about the skills gap and many employers desperate to hire, you may be wondering what skills they are looking for and how you can learn these skills quickly. Wisconsin’s technical colleges offer many programs and certificates that take one year or less to complete and can result in almost immediate employment.

One- and two-year technical diploma programs focus on hands-on learning. Short-term programs focus on skills related to specific occupations and certificates

Student operating a machine tool using computer numerical control. Machine tool operators are in demand in Wisconsin.

provide streamlined paths to specific job skills.

In the manufacturing area students can complete a certificate in Basic Industrial Electronics Maintenance at Nicolet College in less than one year. Several welding programs take one year or less to complete and these skills are in high demand. Production Welding offered at Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) and Welding/Maintenance and Fabrication certificates are offered at Gateway and Lakeshore Technical Colleges.

You can also pursue a one-year technical diploma in welding at 14 Wisconsin technical colleges. The median salary for jobs in this field is $32,244 within six months of graduation. Welding is a high-demand career known for good pay, stability and benefits. In 2011, employers posted twice as many welding job openings as Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) had graduates to fill them.

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) skills are also in high demand and training for these jobs often takes only one year. Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offers a one-year technical diploma called CNC Machine Operator/Programmer. A CNC Production Technician program is offered at Gateway Technical College (GTC). Median annual salaries for these jobs range from $27,000 to $37,000.

Machine Tool Operation (CNC) graduates earn a median salary of $32,760 six months after graduation. Seven technical colleges offer this one-year technical diploma.

Oshkosh Corp. and Marinette Marine Corp. are hiring to meet production for government contracts. Kestrel Aircraft Company in Superior is hiring welders, machine tool operators and industrial maintenance technicians. Generac, with three plants in Wisconsin, is also hiring for manufacturing positions and many other employers are struggling to hire workers with the skills they need.

So if you want to find a good-paying job and do it quickly, contact your local technical college and find out how to enroll in one of these high-demand career preparation programs. You will be working before you know it.

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