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Friday, July 25, 2014

Some High-Growth Jobs Require Just Two Years of School

Editor's note: This article is adapted from the Fall 2009 issue of WCC’s CareerFocus magazine.

WCC graduates Josh Baumer, Colby McLaughlin, and Lauri Procassini stepped right into great jobs after they finished their associate degrees at WCC. They all chose professions that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics considers “high-paying and high-growth.”

These three successful graduates chose careers in computer technology, auto body repair, and physical therapist assisting—all jobs in growing professions that require two years or less of study.

Josh Baumer: Computer Networking Professional

What Josh Baumer likes best about his new job as a network administrator is the puzzle solving. “I enjoy the process of going through all the possible solutions when I’m helping a client with a problem,” he said. “In general I just enjoy helping people work better with technology.

"The other thing I like is that I can work anywhere I have a laptop and an Internet connection. With a couple clicks, it’s just like I’m sitting in my office.”

When Baumer graduated from WCC in December 2008 with a computer networking associate degree, he’d already begun his job with Schumaker and Company, a management and IT consulting agency in Ann Arbor.

At age 30 he is beginning a second career after working in his family’s masonry business for many years. “ I knew technology was a growing field, and I knew I enjoyed it,” he said.

Baumer looked at other IT programs before deciding on WCC. He heard from several employers that one of the other programs he was considering created book-smart graduates without good hands-on skills. The many hands-on labs at WCC convinced Baumer it was the right place for him. “I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I’m doing at work without them,” he said.

Colby McLaughlin: Auto Body Technician

Although Colby McLaughlin knew that auto body repair was the kind of career he could count on, that sure wasn’t what drew him to it. It was the paint—the shiny, fussy, shimmery finish he meticulously worked to a smooth polish. His love of cars was inspired by his father, who restored a ’67 Camero when McLaughlin was growing up. “A completed paint job on a custom car is a work of art,” he said. “I started out thinking I’d be a mechanic, but realized I didn’t have a passion for it. But when I tried painting, I loved it.”

At 21, McLaughlin has already been in the custom car business for three years. He graduated from WCC’s auto repair program with an associate degree at age 18 through Washtenaw Technical Middle College, a charter school on the WCC campus that combines high school and college education.

His job today is one that any car nut would envy: At Special Projects, a custom body facility in Plymouth, he’s part of a team that creates custom concept cars for automakers such as Chrysler and Ford to display at national auto shows. Special Projects also restores and customizes vehicles for car lovers and collectors.

Lauri Procassini: Physical Therapist Assistant

“I’m a caregiver at heart,” said Lauri Procassini about her decision to become a physical therapist assistant. As a single mom with two teenagers, she was in search of a new career. She’d been working as a massage therapist while taking general education courses at WCC. She was on the waiting list for the nursing program when she learned about the new physical therapist assistant associate degree program at WCC.

When she graduated in May with WCC’s first class of PTAs, she already had a job lined up. She’d had four interviews and turned down one offer before beginning her new job with the University of Michigan Health Systems physical therapy department. “I did my research before I enrolled in the program so I knew there were job opportunities out there,” she said.

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