2019 graduate Joseph Saenz didn’t wait long after he turned his tassel to start his career. Before he even had his Kennesaw Mountain High School diploma in hand, Joseph signed with Anning-Johnson Company to start working and learning as a carpenter apprentice.
According to U.S. News and World Report, a carpenter is in the top 20 of the best jobs that do not require a college degree. This year, the average carpenter salary in Atlanta is $54,111, but if Joseph works hard and advances to a construction superintendent, he could pull in a six-figure income.
Joseph won’t have to worry about incurring college debt, and he doesn’t have to wait four years to start earning an income and advancing his career.
The future carpenter joined nine other students in the Cobb Career, Technical and Agriculture Education program to launch his career ahead of graduation at Kennesaw Mountain High School’s second annual Career Signing Day.
Jose Valle will join Joseph at Anning-Johnson Company, while AJ Tenhove will study as an electrical apprentice in the United Electric/Atlanta Electrical Contractors Association Apprenticeship Program. AJ will work while he learns and get paid for it. The median salary for a commercial electrician, according to U.S. News and World Reports’ list of Best Jobs, is $54,110.
“They are going to start right out of high school earning a very good living in a booming industry,” said Jeremy Whitaker, Kennesaw Mountain CTAE teacher, and organizer of the Career Signing Day.
Like their fellow CTAE classmates, Brant Rooker, Brian Castro, Carlton Starling, and Saul Torres Arevalo are skipping college to get a jumpstart on their careers. They are pursuing one of the top 15 highest paid jobs that do not require a college degree. Before graduation, the group of Kennesaw High School students signed with C.W. Matthews Contracting Company as equipment operator trainees. According to Salary.com, the average salary for a heavy equipment operator in Atlanta is more than $62,000.
Three other students from Kennesaw Mountain could end up working on job sites underwater or in space. Every industry from racing teams, the movies, and the military to oil companies, satellite companies, and cruise lines require the work of skilled welders.
Bryan Hilario, Chris Mendoza, and Jordan Huynh all signed with the Mechanical Trades Institute to gain skills in plumbing, pipefitting, and welding. The average salary of an underwater welder ranges from $80,000 to $97,000 per year.
CTAE Graduates Return to Talk Success
This wasn’t Jeremy Whitaker’s first class of students to sign employment contracts before graduation. The dedicated CTAE teacher brought back a couple of his 2018 graduates who are already moving up in their careers.
2018 graduate Garrett Beatty returned to Kennesaw Mountain to encourage the students who were about to embark on the same journey he started a year before.
“You really don’t know what you are getting into,” he told them.
You are going to love it, he added. Every day is different.
Whitaker asked Garrett why he decided to take high school construction. His answer made his teacher smile and came of no surprise to the students sitting in the audience. It was his teacher, Mr. Whitaker, who kept him in the class and ultimately solidified his career path.
Another 2018 graduate, Evan Magee, took a break from his largescale construction project in Athens, Georgia to return to where his career started at Kennesaw Mountain High School. He had a message for the younger versions of himself.
To help Cobb students learn about the rewarding career tech paths available, the Cobb County School Districts holds the annual CTAE career showcase called Future Fest, where students are able to engage in interactive demonstrations and talk to industry professionals.
More than 36,000 students participated in CTAE classes last year. In 2020, Cobb Schools will add an entire school to serve as an extension to the District’s CTAE program. The Cobb College and Career Academy, which is being built with money from Ed-SPLOST, will be located adjacent to Osborne High School. The Cobb College and Career Academy will function much like the six magnet programs throughout Cobb County except it will be more geared to preparing students for a career tech pathway.