When she lost her job, Melissa Morris knew what was next for her: becoming a dental technician.
“I like to be creative. I like to work with my hands. I like to work independently,” Morris said. “That type of work is just perfect for me.”
The job would build on skills she honed in her prior career, before her and her coworkers’ jobs were outsourced to another country. Dental technicians may have a bit more job security in the U.S.: the national Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11% growth in employment of dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians between 2018 and 2028.
Morris set out to find a place to get connected to this growing career — and she found an opportunity at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The college offers a Dental Technician technical diploma program, which students can complete in two semesters of full-time study. It’s one of more than 170 degree, diploma and certificate programs offered at MATC, all of which are tied to the local job market. Students can complete an associate degree in about two years of full time study, a technical diploma in about one year of full time study and a certificate in an even shorter amount of time. The college offers traditional semester-length courses and a growing number of eight-week sections so students can start when it’s convenient for them. More than 1,000 industry and community partners serve on MATC advisory committees to ensure the curriculum students take meets the needs of today’s employers. Thanks to industry- expert instructors and small class sizes, students graduate with both the hard and “soft” career- ready skills they need to succeed. So it’s no surprise that more than 90% of MATC graduates are employed within six months of completing their programs.
Career training doesn’t have to be expensive. MATC’s tuition is roughly half the cost per semester of a public four-year university. Financial Aid and scholarships can help cover the cost and for eligible students, the MATC Promise means free tuition. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some courses Morris will take are among the 20% of MATC classes offered in-person in Fall 2020 with strong health and safety protocols in place including social distancing, a mask requirement, temperature checks at entry and more. Another 10% of classes this Fall will offer a mix of in-person learning and online learning. About 60% of classes will be fully online. The remaining less than 10% of classes are off-site programs like apprenticeships and clinical education. They will be online or in-person depending on need.
If you’re considering career training and aren’t sure what program is right for you, the college offers career coaches to help find your path. And new Pathway teams are there to help students every step of the way. Morris said her MATC Pathway advisor made her feel “like I wasn’t just a number — like somebody actually cared to help someone continue their education.” “I had so many questions,” she said. “I’d send him an email and I’d get one back immediately.” And to anyone considering training to find a new career? “I would say to go back to school,
” Morris said. “It’s only eight months of your life — anything to improve your life obviously you’re going to go for it.”