No degree required: Careers possible without four years of college

Audrey Caro

Local employers gave Sweet Home and Lebanon students a glimpse at job opportunities that don’t require a four-year degree at the East Linn County Classroom to Careers Expo on Sept. 29.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Santiam partnered with local businesses, Lebanon Community Schools and the Sweet Home School District to put on the event.

About 500 students from Sweet Home Junior High and Sweet Home High School attended the event which was held at the Santiam Travel Station in Lebanon.

Rose Dixon Barry, executive director of the Santiam Excursion Trains, manned a few rail cars for her company in conjunction with the Albany & Eastern Railroad and Rick Franklin Corporation.

There are a lot of jobs in the railroad industry that people can do without a four-year degree, she said.

What prospective employees should have is a high school diploma and a good attitude, Dixon Barry said. They should also be drug free.

Starting opportunities in that field include track crew, car repair, and general laborers.

“We have 46 acres of stuff to take care of,” she said. “It’s hard work.”

While the visiting students didn’t get to work on or drive the rail cars, there were plenty of opportunities for hands-on experiences.

With 30 businesses set up in the fields outside the travel station, those opportunities ranged from welding to concrete work to emergency response.

Kathleen Magnuson, workforce development specialist at the Albany Chamber of Commerce, is the East Linn County Pipeline Program Manager.

The Pipeline Program helps connect to students with local job opportunities that do not require four-year degrees.

On Oct. 6, the Pipeline Program is taking a group of students to tour welding classrooms at Linn-Benton Community College, Magnuson said.

Pipeline has a full calendar of opportunities for high school and middle school students, including Health Career Day for non-health occupation students, visual communications career day and a women in metals and manufacturing event.

The business and industry representatives were very pleased with the turnout, said Kris Latimer, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Santiam.

Latimer said they plan to do another event next year.