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Supporting Students in Adult Education With a GED: What’s Next for Them?

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Adult education sometimes involves helping GED holders progress in their careers. Adult educators interested in working with this population can pursue an advanced degree in adult education. By completing the coursework for such a degree, they can equip themselves with the tools that will help them serve various types of adult learners, including GED holders.

Here’s a list of five career pathways available to GED holders that adult educators can save as a handy reference:

5 Options for GED Holders

  1. Associate Degree/Bachelor’s Degree
    The financial benefits from post-secondary studies, for people over the age of 25, are irrefutable for any education beyond a GED, according to Abt Associates, Inc. Associate and bachelor’s degrees have a profound impact on personal income and correlate with a decreased need for public assistance. In Oregon specifically, Chemeketa Community College offers a tuition waiver for six hours to learners earning a GED, and Rogue Community College offers learners the opportunity to buy one credit and get one credit free for up to six free credits.

    Even if adult learners are concerned about how they will juggle the demands of family and work, staff members at community colleges and four-year universities are typically equipped with the information and support that GED graduates need to manage their time and learn the computer and study skills for success. The state of Oregon even offers student childcare grants to help offset the financial responsibilities of non-traditional students with families.  

  2. Trade School
    If postsecondary education is not the preferred path, a GED also enables adult learners to qualify for trade schools that prepare students for specialized jobs with higher salaries. Such jobs are always in demand, allowing graduates to enter the workforce and add human capital.

    In October 2021, CNBC.com published “The 10 Fastest-Growing Jobs of the Next Decade that Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree.” The list includes wind turbine service technicians, solar photovoltaic installers, home health and personal care aides, massage therapists, forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists and self-enrichment teachers.

    In addition, community colleges offer non-degree programs that students can complete in less time and provide the specific skills needed for a position like emergency medical technician. The GED Testing Service blog lists additional vocational job opportunities like medical and dental assistant, pharmacy technician and nursing assistant, as well as positions in cosmetology, culinary professions, welding and electrical fields and/or industries.

  3. Job Promotion
    S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicate that those who hold a high school diploma average 26% more in earnings than those who don’t. Even if non-traditional students already have a job they enjoy and want to stay with their current employer, having a GED means they can pursue opportunities not available to their non-matriculated co-workers.

    In a list of some of the highest-paying jobs for GED holders, Indeed.com names optician, dental assistant, private investigator, electrician, real estate appraiser and firefighter. Approaching a manager about a raise or promotion is more realistic and attainable with a GED in hand.  

  4. The Military
    Adult learners who have earned their GED also qualify for military recruitment at the Tier II level. A Tier I recruit must have a high school diploma or at least 15 college credits. It is possible to combine the benefits of a GED education and the financial opportunities that come with military enlistment.

    The Oregon Army National Guard and the Oregon Air National Guard provide opportunities for career advancement, valuable experience and possible tuition reimbursement for GED graduates interested in the military. Trying to enlist in the military is virtually impossible without a high school diploma or GED. According to The Balance Careers, the Tier III includes those who are not attending high school and who do not hold a GED, and Tier III category is “all but non-existent in the 21st century armed services.”

  5. Entrepreneurship
    If being a small business owner or entrepreneur is the goal for GED graduates, it is worth noting that 56% of business owners do not have a four-year college degree, according to PR Newswire. But, in that majority, 20% did earn a GED or high school diploma as opposed to 5% of entrepreneurs who did not graduate or earn an equivalent credential.

    Developing a business plan requires the skills attained by earning a GED, and entrepreneurship is a viable and popular option for non-traditional students who enjoy the idea of an autonomous career. According to a 2020 report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the portion of entrepreneurs who completed high school and had no further schooling was highest for Hispanic entrepreneurs at 24.8%. For one of the fastest-growing populations in America, and for students who might have opted for a GED due to a language barrier, this is an inspiring statistic.

Be it college, trade school, the military or small business initiatives, the paths to success for GED graduates are more accessible than ever before. Oregon’s Office of Student Access and Completion and Higher Education Coordinating Commission offer resources for GED graduates that help with continued education, a specialized career, the military or even a promotion at their current job.

By completing a Master of Science in Education (MSEd) focused on adult education, professionals such as educators, counselors and mentors can gain the knowledge to help non-traditional adult students.

Learn about Southern Oregon University’s MSEd with a Concentration in Adult Education online program.

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