With sights on immediate employment, students turn to places like PTEC to become certified

Less expensive alternative to college.

CLEARWATER, Fla. - For students in the machining program at the Pinellas Technical Education Center --or PTEC -- their days are spent learning the ins and outs of their future career.

"I was never very into academics and book work," recalled Rob Durgin.

For Durgin and many students like him, the conventional college degree doesn't fit what they're looking for. He's already has a job lined up once he receives his certification.  Plus, he won't be saddled with a mountain of debt like many college students today. All in a fraction of the time of a four year degree.

"I definitely wouldn't be able to do the high-skilled, higher paying jobs I'll be doing with this (certification)," said Durgin.

Dr. Radiah Palmer is the Assistant Director of PTEC's Clearwater campus.

"People want to be able to go study something and go straight to work and be able to earn a very good wage," explained Dr. Palmer.

Whether it's web design or welding, programs that produce immediate jobs are quickly growing in popularity.

"Some of the people start at $30-40,000, which in many cases can be more than what a college graduate who studied four years can earn.  And these people are completing their programs in anywhere from nine to sixteen months," said Palmer.
Not only is the need for skilled auto technicians on the rise, but the diesel mechanics program at PTEC is flourishing too.

Twenty-one year-old Sam Onderdonk has always had an interest in how engines work.  Now, she's on the career path she's always wanted.

"They make it simple here. They help you, and they help you find a job.  It's a lot better than just going to a university," said Onderdonk.

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