About 90 seniors at Westwood High School graduate with 107 industry-based certifications to help them compete for higher-paying jobs. Their certifications come from reputable organizations such as the American Welding Society, National Center for Construction Education and Research, Google, Texas Education Agency, Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and National Healthcareer Association.
Westwood’s director of career technology education, Kelly Green, said some seniors had received more than one certificate, such as in welding and construction trades or welding and Google Analytics.
“Eighty-six seniors earned a combined total of 107 industry-based certifications,” Green said. “Our subclasses received an additional 93 IBCs.”
Each type of certification has different requirements for time spent on training, studying, and testing, and each is offered by a different organization. Physician and veterinary assistants earn approximately 300 hours of clinical practice, which takes most of the school year to earn. These certified assistants can work in clinics after graduation where they perform basic care, take vital signs, and clean equipment.
Veterinary assistants get their hours at a local clinic, but the medical assistant program is taught in the classroom. Melanie Adams, a health science teacher, established rotations in her class after COVID-19 precautions prevented them from going to the Palestine Regional Medical Center.
Students in construction trades classes can earn a certification called NCCER Core, which qualifies them for many entry-level construction jobs. The AWS certificate is based on making performance-based welds and gives many students a head start in trade school programs.
Students who want to pursue a career in education can earn an educational assistant certification from the TEA. They follow two education courses. The second is a practical level course that allows them to gain experience on lower campuses such as Westwood Primary and Westwood Elementary schools.
OSHA 30 certification allows students to learn safety techniques, hazard communication, first aid and emergency planning.
“OSHA is one of the most universally accepted certifications for businesses,” Green said. “These training topics are important in areas such as warehouse safety, factory operations, construction safety and healthcare.”
Westwood offered five of the certifications for three years and Google Analytics for one year. The knowledge gained during the analytics course is useful for analyzing and processing data for key business decisions.
Another certification for students pursuing a career in criminal justice may be the next addition to the CTE program.
“The goal is to get 100% of our seniors with some sort of industry-based certificate that will help them when they graduate to look better on paper to get a job or take that certificate and go straight into a field studies such as a welder, teacher, medical assistant or veterinary assistant,” said Green.