OCTAE Connection - Issue 226 - March 12, 2015

OCTAE Newsletter

March 12, 2015

March Is Women’s History Month

Following five years of joint congressional resolutions to celebrate Women’s History Week, and a petition in 1987 from the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 designating March as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the president to proclaim March of each year, as Women’s History Month.  Every year since then, each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as Women’s History Month. 

Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to pay tribute to and celebrate the countless generations of women who have played vital roles in the history of the nation. It also serves as a reminder to carry the dynamic lessons learned from these women throughout the year—from home to classroom to community.  This deepens, secures and spreads women’s accomplishments, commitments, sacrifices and achievements to new generations of determined and courageous girls and women. 

We encourage our state and local stakeholders across the country who serve as exemplars and educators to take advantage of the available rich legacy of women’s stories and resources. This will help facilitate participation in activities and discussions to learn what women have to share about their own rich pasts, challenges, dreams, and achievements. 

The following Women’s History Month resources will help begin as well as renew interest in and dialogue on the contributions of women of all ages to the nation’s growth, achievement, and future potential. 

  • “To commemorate and celebrate Women’s History Month, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.” Visitors to the Women’s History Month government website can access a wide range of resources from participating federal agencies, including images, videos, exhibits and collections, and resources for teachers. 

  • Each year the National Women's History Project (NWHP) selects a unifying theme to promote women’s history.  This year’s theme, Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives, is available for free public use, along with any other materials on the NWHP website, for programs or events. According to the NWHP, “Accounts of the lives of individual women are critically important because they reveal exceptionally strong role models who share a more expansive vision of what a woman can do … knowing women’s achievements challenges stereotypes and upends social assumptions about who women are and what women can accomplish today.” This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Women’s History Movement and the NWHP, which is celebrated in the selection of the 2015 National Women’s History Month Honorees.  

  • According to its website, “The National Constitution Center is the first and only institution in America established by Congress to disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a non-partisan basis in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people. The Constitution Center brings the United States Constitution to life by hosting interactive exhibitions and constitutional conversations and inspires active citizenship by celebrating the American constitutional tradition.” 

During March, the center offers a variety of programs, lessons, and activities to learn more about Women’s History Month. 

  • Finally, readers are encouraged to view President Obama’s full 2015 Women’s History Month proclamation celebrating the many and diverse contributions of women to our nation. 

“We know that when women succeed, America succeeds.  The strength of our economy rests on whether we make it possible for every citizen to contribute to our growth and prosperity.  As we honor the many patriots who have shaped not only the destinies of other women, but also the direction of our history, let us resolve to build on their efforts in our own time.  As a Nation, we must join our voices with the chorus of history and push forward with unyielding faith to forge a more equal society for all our daughters and granddaughters -- one where a woman's potential is limited only by the size of her dreams and the power of her imagination.”    — President Barack Obama, Feb. 27, 2015.

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Certificates: A Fast Track to Careers—Part II

In this column, we continue our discussion from OCTAE Connection issue 225 on the value of earning a certificate in obtaining employment.  This week’s focus is on occupational fields in which certificates often provide paths to entry.  Different occupations are featured, as illustrated in the report Certificates: A Fast Track to Careers. It is recommended that guidance counselors, teachers, parents, and students read the entire report for further information on occupational certificates. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 33 occupations have been identified as requiring a certificate or other postsecondary nondegree award as the typical point of entry. In 2010–11, the NCES identified the most popular disciplines for certificate programs as healthcare, personal and culinary services, and mechanic and repair technologies and technicians. 

CertificatesA Fast Track to Careers contains several tables about occupations within selected broad career areas, citing data from a survey by the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) in 2010–11. The survey asked workers or occupational experts what the required level of education was for specific jobs.  Each table lists the percentage of workers who reported needing a postsecondary certificate to become employed in their fields.  They also list the percentage in each field of those surveyed who said they needed a high school diploma or its equivalent, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree.  

Under each broad occupational heading, there is a discussion of BLS data on job outlook, employment, and median annual wages for select occupations.   Wages for workers varied significantly within most of the broad categories.  An occupation is high wage if it is above the May 2011 median annual wage of $34,460 for all wage and salary workers, and low wage if it falls below the May 2011 median annual wage.  

This information is summarized, by broad occupational category, below. 

Healthcare:  About 463,000 certificates—or almost half of all certificates earned—were in healthcare and related professions and programs.  Jobs like surgical technologists, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, pharmacy technicians, radiologic technologists, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, massage therapists, dental assistants, medical transcriptionists, veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers, and medical assistants are represented in this category.  The May 2011 median annual wages within these selected healthcare occupations ranged from $22,830 for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers to $55,120 for radiologic technologists and technicians. 

Personal and culinary services: About 131,000 certificates were awarded in these fields.  Some of the largest occupations within this category are personal care aides, hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists.  In May 2011, median annual wages for these workers ranged from $19,430 for childcare workers to $31,030 for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors. 

Homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting:  About 32,000 certificates were awarded for such jobs as police and sheriff’s patrol officers, correctional officers and jailers, and firefighters (the largest occupations in this category).  As of May 2011, median annual wages ranged from $38,990 for correctional officers and jailers to $71,770 for detectives and criminal investigators. 

Mechanic and repair technologies:  About 89,000 certificates were granted in such occupations as general maintenance and repair workers, automotive service technicians and mechanics, and heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers, all of which are among the largest occupations in these fields.  Median annual wages ranged from $35,030 for general maintenance and repair workers to $53,960 for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line repairers.

Precision production:  Within the precision production fields, some occupations require a certificate while others require more advanced education or training.  Approximately 29,000 certificates were awarded.  Median annual wages in these occupations (as of May 2011) ranged from $31,730, with 53 percent of workers reporting needing a high school diploma or its equivalent, to $46,650, with 68 percent of workers reporting needing a postsecondary certificate. 

Business, management, marketing, and support services:  About 66,000 certificates were awarded in these fields.  Median annual salaries ranged from $37,640 for procurement clerks, with 33 percent of workers reporting the need for a high school diploma or its equivalent, to $88,190 for industrial production managers, with 29 percent of workers reporting needing a bachelor’s degree. 

Computer and information sciences and support services:  About 28,000 certificates were earned in this category.  Some of the most popular occupations in this field are computer support specialists, computer programmers, information security analysts, web developers, and computer network architects.  In May 2011, computer support specialists earned an average wage of $47,660, while higher-end salaries averaged $79,930. 

Construction trades:  About 30,000 certificates were earned in construction trades. Many of these occupations require only a high school diploma or its equivalent, or a postsecondary certificate.  As of May 2011, median annual wages ranged from $27,010 for helpers of pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters to $37,750 for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. 

Transportation and material moving:  Certificates awarded in transportation and material moving fields numbered about 24,000.  The most common of these occupations are heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers and industrial truck and tractor operators.  As of May 2011, median annual salaries ranged from $19,930 for automotive and watercraft service attendants to $52,950 for first-line supervisors of transportation and material moving machine and vehicle operators.

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