Alachua County Public Schools middle and high school students earned a record number of national industry certifications during the 2022-23 school year. This year’s district record of over 4,300 certifications beat last year’s record by about 800 certificates.
Students earn these certificates from outside organizations, who assess their knowledge and skills in a particular career field. ACPS students have industry certification opportunities in fields such as information technology, healthcare, agriculture and more.
“Having that certification tells employers that the student already has what it takes to work in that field,” Shannon Ritter, the district’s director of career and technical education, said in a press release. “It really gives them a head start on their careers.”
Certifications can also be helpful in applications for college, or other post-secondary programs. Some may qualify for credits and scholarships.
Lily Crummer earned 11 industry certificates before graduating from the Academy of Automotive Technology at the Professional Academies Magnet (PAM) at Loften High School. She has been accepted to the University of Northwestern Ohio’s High Performance Motorsports program with the goal of becoming a race car driver.
“The automotive program at Loften helped kickstart everything for me,” Crummer said in a press release. “It’s helped prepare me for jobs in the automotive industry because with the certifications, I’ve already proven my worth.”
Travis Coe finished his senior year with two industry certificates from the Institute of Culinary Arts (ICA) at Eastside High School. He will work in a local confectioner’s shop over the summer, and he said the ICA program gave him the tools to succeed in college and his future career.
“It’s preparing me so well,” Coe said in a press release. “The certifications will qualify me for higher-level jobs because they tell people that you know how to work in the food industry and that you’re managerial material.”
The ACPS district has 15 career tech academies and multi-year programs of study in high schools, in which about 5,500 middle and high school students were enrolled for the 2022-23 school year. These programs are open to all students, irrespective of where they live.
Next year the district will be adding a new Academy of Media Production Technology at Loften High School.
“We’re always looking for new opportunities for our students, new ways for them to pursue their career goals,” Ritter said.