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Certification program can lead to good jobs right out of high school
Certification program can lead to good jobs right out of high school
Carbon School District
Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The concept that people who only graduate from high school cannot get good, career oriented jobs carries a lot of baggage. Almost everyone can name someone who did find a career and never got any post secondary school training, but in reality, particularly in today’s economy, those situations are certainly anecdotal.

But now with new CTE (career and technical education) programs getting an emphasis in Carbon School District, students who come out of high school with certifications or certificates in specific fields can find not only meaningful employment, but high paying jobs as well. 

Presently one of the advanced programs being taught at Carbon High School is a series of courses with instructor Wes Thompson working with students on various levels of certification in the area of computer hardware. This program is the product of cooperation between the school district and various other organizations that have given support and even funds to make it happen

“We would like to thank the Coal Country Strike Team for their tremendous donation to help propel our IT pathway forward,” says Mika Salas, the Secondary School Supervisor and CTE Director for Carbon School District. “Because of that we were able to extend professional training for our teacher, Mr. Wes Thompson. Students who pass the exams after taking the courses he teaches will earn industry-recognized certificates. These students are immediately employable and could earn $40,000 - $80,000 salary right out of high school.”

Thompson attended four, week-long courses to become certified to teach the material, which allows the district to offer Comp TIA courses in the school. These courses include an IT Fundamentals, A+ (computer hardware), Network+ (fundamentals), and Security+ (fundamentals).

This spring Thompson has a half dozen students enrolled. The course regimen to get all the certifications is meant to be stretched over the four years a student attends the school, but since the program just began last year, some in the upper grades are taking multiple courses at one time to finish their certification before they graduate. 

“These courses are basically computer hardware classes and they correspond with the industry certifications,” said Thompson.
”Each of those courses are run through a program of certification operated by a company called CompTIA. These certifications are vendor neutral and help employers to know that students who have gone through them know the basics of the job they are being interviewed for. Many employers are looking for these certifications. Usually these courses are pursued through college programs so we are fortunate to be able to offer them at the high school level.”

Thompson pointed out that the certifications acquired at the high school level will also be accepted for college credit should students move onto educational institutions beyond high school.

One of the projects for the A+ certification is to build a computer and have it operate properly. Brett Heugly is one of the students who participated in building a computer this year, one that is unique and on the outside is pure Carbon High with the glass on the side of it etched with a Dino and with all its operations lit school colors.

“We acquired the components and put in a water cooling system for the CPU,” he said, obviously proud of the machine. “The computer has 32 gigabits of ram which allows someone to run just about anything on the machine. It has a 500 gigabit SSD, It has a 850 watt power supply and a six core processor. With the 27” curved screen it is a pretty sweet machine.”

As the students talk among themselves in the class the excitement of what they are doing and what they are learning is apparent. 

Jenny Baker is one of the students who is actually taking three of the certifications at once. She said it has been difficult but because the different certificates overlap, but it is possible to do. That is why the program is actually set up for students to pursue from the time they are a freshman to the time they are a senior. There are informational building blocks along the way that make logical sense, although Baker admits that sometimes things she would have wondered about are answered by knowing the more advanced information first.

“I would suggest to anyone to take the Fundamentals and A+ class first though because it would make it easier to understand the others,’ she stated. 

Another student, Coner Fitzsimmons, said he kind of just fell into the first course and is glad he did it.
“I had another class that didn’t work out schedule wise so I took this course,” he explained. “This is my first year taking any kind of computer course and I have to say it is nice to have the knowledge I am gaining from it. I have been able to replace components in my PC and also help my parents out on their computer. I am going to major in business in college, and what I have learned here will give me an edge because I am literate in this technology. What I have learned is applicable to real life situations. Certainly I could use what I have learned in pretty much every workplace.”

The courses are open to all students at Carbon High.

“We are extremely proud of Mr. Thompson's dedication to his own learning and the opportunities we can offer students in rural Utah,” concluded Salas.