YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- A school in York County says it's time to educate parents and their students on the value of technical education, especially for jobs here in Central Pennsylvania.
"I think it’s that you're taking this hard material, metal, and you're melting it with fire basically, and it’s all powered through this little electrode that has electricity running down through it,” said Maria Hilbert, a student at York County School of Technology.
She is the only senior girl in the welding and fabrication program. She makes welding look simple.
"You might feel a little left out when you first start out because there’s not a lot of females, but it’s definitely a great career to get into because it’s always high in demand,” she added.
Welders in York County make approximately $36,000 dollars starting off.
"That’s the good part about it. They don’t have to go take a minimum wage job,” said Dr. David Thomas, the administrative director at the school.
According to the Institute for College Access and Success -- the average college education in Pennsylvania puts a student around $34,000 in debt. Many technical careers minimize debt by paying for job training.
"You name just about any program here the kids, if they want to, can go get a family sustaining wage,” said Dr. Thomas.
Some students at York County School of Technology like Tyler Bollinger already have jobs set for them after they graduate.
"We start off at about $11 an hour and then the apprenticeship, you make about $20.00 plus."
$20.00 plus an hour and additional skill training makes students like Tyler happy to be in the Machinist program at the school.
Tyler will work with General Machine Works in York for the next four years learning more about machinery and building connections.
"York is still a big manufacturing community,” explained Dr. Thomas. “You go up 83, there’s a company that has a permanent sign on the wall that says 'Machinist Needed.'"
"You basically just have to have the knowledge we do. It’s the same as going to college, but we did it through high school so we saved ourselves four years of our lives and a whole bunch of money just coming here,” added Tyler.
According to school officials, many technical careers need students right now because their older skilled workers are retiring.
School officials say it’s crucial to educate students and parents at an early age, right around middle school, to get the idea of a technical career and the benefits in the back of these students’ minds.