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Education with a technical twist

Post-high school education doesn't mean that you need to be stuck in a college classroom for the next four years of your life. Attending technical and vocational schools get you the training you need to start your career quickly and promise great job outlooks.

Graduate high school. Go to a college. Get a job. Lead a successful life.

That plan probably sounds familiar, especially now that graduation is just a few short months away. But just because your parents, teachers, and guidance counselors keep trying to motivate you to get going on those college applications, doesn't mean that the traditional four-year college experience is the right path for you.

And not following that plan doesn't mean you have to give up on education after high school. Technical and vocational schools offer a different option. Instead of sitting through classes on classic literature by Dickens or Austen while studying to be a journalist, you can focus your studies on career skills like cosmetology, dental assistance, or personal training.

These career fields offer another perk: job outlook and security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2010 that they expect employment for cosmetologists, which includes barbers and hairdressers, manicurists, and skincare specialists, to grow by 20 percent by 2018. Experience promises higher wages, but the median annual salary for a cosmetologist is $23,330.

Phillips' Hairstyling Institute is one option for students interested in pursuing cosmetology careers. Students go through 1,000 hours of training for certification, and the institute also offers a nail specialty program, which includes an additional 250 hours.

Students generally finish up their certification in 36 to 63 weeksthat's only nine to 15 months. But even during that time, students can keep their part-time jobs because of the flexible scheduling options. You can choose to go full-time during the day or at night, or you can do part-time studies.

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