Community College Increases Career and Financial Prospects


“I’m employed but my job doesn’t pay enough to keep up with my household expenses. How do I find out about training opportunities that can help me get into a job that pays higher wages?” – Jeannie from Charleston, WV


You’re right that more education means more money. By getting more training, you are investing in yourself. Community colleges are a great place to train for a new career or get the skills you need to move up in your current field. They are less expensive than four-year universities and they focus on the skills that matter to employers.

1. Your first step should be to figure out what kind of job you want to train for. Look for a job that:

2. Next, you will need to figure out what training you will need to get the type of job you want. Do you just need a skill or two, or a whole new degree or professional license? If you are unsure, ask someone who has the kind of job you want to get into and look at the requirements in job ads. Online job databases and your local OneStop can also help you figure this out.

3. Then, you’ll need to decide which training program to enroll in. You can search for both short-term certificate and longer-term degree programs near you on the Career OneStop website. Consider your work schedule and what options are available for the type of training you’re interested in – evening, weekend, online, full-time or part-time – as well as the length of the training.

4. Of course, you will need to figure out how you’re going to pay for training. Cost is one of the scariest parts of going back to school, but there are far more resources available than most people know about, especially for job training programs at community colleges:

  • Fill out your FAFSA application for federal financial aid.
  • Ask the workforce training office at your college about funding programs such as Worker Retraining (for laid off), WorkFirst (TANF), SNAPET (for those on food stamps) and the Workforce Investment Act (for low-income workers).
  • Search for scholarships online.
  • Ask the college about payment plans or take fewer classes each term to reduce costs.

5. And finally, you will enroll in the training program you’ve selected:

  • Fill out the college application and take a placement test
  • Meet with an Advisor and register for classes
  • Get your books and supplies and connect with on-campus resources (tutoring, disability services, computer lab, etc.)

Going back to school as an adult can be scary, but it can also be tremendously rewarding. The College for Adults website has lots of helpful tips.  Some community organizations, including many Goodwill agencies, help support adults seeking job training – assistance can range from guidance, to money for tuition and books, to specially reserved seats in classes.

You will succeed in getting on a new career path if you go to class, do your best, ask questions whenever you’re unsure or struggling and keep your goal in mind. Good luck!