GULFPORT, MS (AP/WLOX) - While many graduating high school students go to college and earn four year degrees, others are jumping into skilled labor classes like those offered at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Gulfport's Will Daniel spent two years in college and decided it wasn't the career path he wanted to take. "I'm more of a hands-on kind of guy, not a behind the desk kind of guy," Daniel said. "I want to be out in the environment and work with my hands."
That's why he and others are grinding away in this no-cost welding class at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offered at several campuses. "I just decided hey why not do this," he added. "I know I can get a job right afterward, get into the workforce, start making money and become successful."
Daniel and others are using the non-traditional route to employment that's backed up by numbers complied by the Georgetown Center on Education & Workforce. The research says there are nearly 30 million skilled labor jobs in the United States that pay an average salary of $55,000 a year.
This particular class is a 13-14 week course where a student can earn certification, qualify for a job and make up to $20 to $25 an hour.
That sounds pretty good to Cameron Chapman, who recently moved to the Coast from Indiana. "Hopefully it takes off somewhere, so there's a lot of opportunities to this stuff," Chapman said. "I definitely like it. You perform as good as you want to. How much work you put in is what you get out."