Business people looking to change careers, advance in their current profession or even rebound from a layoff can find what they seek in the region's many training institutes.

Local specialized training and certification programs cover a myriad of industries, the hottest of which include health care, according to Donna Szabo, career counselor at Great Oaks Adult Education.

"Thirty to 40 percent (of students) are in the health arena," Szabo says about the Great Oaks' enrollees.

Great Oaks offers training for licensed practical nurses and a year-old, 36-week program called The Health Information Manager, which prepares students for administrative work in any medical setting. The program covers medical billing and coding and medical transcriptions, among other topics.

Butler Tech in Fairfield Township also offers health care training, with instruction in IV thereapy, massage thereapy and licences for practical nursing.  
 
Automotive
Automotive technician training remains an in-demand discipline, Szabo notes. Considering current layoffs in automotive and manufacturing plants, Great Oaks offers training that aims to help students transfer and grow their skills to "capture what they were making" before a layoff, she says.

"We're getting a lot from 3M and the Batavia Ford plants," Szabo says about the workers who are losing their jobs at those two companies.
One of Great Oaks' offerings, the Ford Asset program, was introduced 20 years ago in response to layoffs. Students finish the two-year program as elite automotive technicians, with associate's degrees fromUC's Raymond Walters, their Auto Service Excellence certification and 95 percent of the certification required to work in Ford/Mercury workplaces.

Auto collision training also offers students the chance to prepare for hands-on, specialty work like painting or structural repair, Szabo adds.

Heating and Air Conditioning
A lot of job opportunities exist, for commercial or residential application, in the field of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

"There's a huge demand for that," Szabo says, referring to service calls to homes or businesses for repair of everything from gas furnaces to refrigeration systems. HVAC education also is essential to the construction industry. Builders often send employees for introductory or advanced training.

"The bulk (of Great Oaks students) are career changers," Szabo points out. Some do it on their own initiative, especially when they want jobs offering better wages and benefits. Others seek this path after losing work from layoffs.

Aviation
The hot job in the airline industry remains a big secret: aircraft dispatcher.

The aircraft dispatcher acts as the on-ground executive secretary for the captain, explains  Danny Mortensen, president of Airline Ground Schools in Florence, Ky. The dispatcher orders the fuel for the flight, plans the route and handles the weight and balance details. The dispatcher also is the first point of contact between the captain and the airline during the flight.

The dispatcher is the highest-paid employee on the ground side of the airline, Mortensen notes. "If a senior captain makes $200,000 per year, a senior dispatcher makes $100,000 per year," Mortensen explains, adding that a senior dispatcher who has five to 10 years of experience and can hit the top of the pay scale in 15 to 20 years.

Changes in the airline industry have caused the boon in the dispatcher position. With the major (or "legacy") carriers dumping many of their short- and medium-range trips to their junior partners, the commuters, Mortensen says.

"There has been a big shortage of dispatchers for the past several years," he notes. "We cannot graduate enough students to fill the positions."

Airline Ground Schools has a 13-weekend program for people who want to change professions. The school also offers a distance learning course with a six-day residency for students who live farther away.

"All one needs is a basic high school education and the ability to type on a computer," Mortensen says. "If they can do simple math: add, subtract, multiply, and divide, they don't even need a high school diploma to obtain a FAA license.

"We currently have two employers in the local market, Comair and Executive Jet Management. In Indianapolis, we have ATA and Chautauqua. In Dayton, PSA. In Wilmington, ABX Air and ASTAR Air Cargo. In Louisville, UPS. In Columbus, we have a new start-up air carrier about to launch, Skyjet, and we have NetJets," Mortensen says. "Lots of local airlines are looking for employees."

Travel perks add to the appeal of the position, Mortensen adds.

Computer Technology
Sharpening computer skills is still one of the best ways to navigate a career path, whether you're just beginning, want to advance or start a new journey.

The office worker who gets additional database training could progress to becoming a database administrator. For the aspiring technicians, opportunities include IT engineers and network administrators. Those with a creative streak can explore Web design.

In the world of computer training, corporate and individual consumers are paying more attention than ever to the kind of return on investment they're getting from their training, says David Kessinger, general manager for New Horizons Computer Learning of the Ohio Valley.
Discerning the value of their training makes sense, given the "myriad of choices now," he adds.

A hot topic in computers is security training, he said. Certification options include becoming a certified ethical hacker, someone who can identify and ferret out hacking approaches, and a certified forensic hacking investigator.

Help desk training also is a popular certification choice, especially for career changers looking for a certain status when breaking into the field, Kessinger says.

The information technology infrastructure library, or ITIL education, details the standards and procedures for the information technology industry and is meant for use by high level managers.

As for other popular training topics, "Microsoft is such a big player" that many classes include Microsoft products such as SQL 2005, Office 2007 and Sharepoint, which allows employees in different sites to work on and make changes to single documents.

Warren County Career Center has many IT classes, with training in programs like A+. They also have Cisco Certified Network Associate certification.

New Horizons also offers assessment testing for students to determine where they are in their IT knowledge and where they want to be, so they can chart an education path. While the firm doesn't do personality profiling to determine a person's aptitude for the IT industry, Kessinger says it does help to have a desire to learn, and the ability to be flexible and open to change, given the industry's penchant for change.

A number of Tristate special schools offer the latest training in common and specialized software, from MS Office and various database appplications to higher-end systems skills and certification in Cisco, Java, Linux, Microsoft, Oracle and other software. National companies often offer local "boot camp" training and certification.

Graphic Design
Local "help wanted" ads almost have at least a couple of listings for graphic design specialists. Even small businesses see the value of having an employee who can turn out high-quality material for sales, marketing, promotions, presentations and other purposes. Cross-platform training is especially valuable, Learn how to put together attractive text, graphics and design into printed material, PowerPoint presentations and, especially, Web site design and updating, and the job offers or promotions are yours.

Aside from local colleges and universities, graphic design training is available at computer schools such as New Horizons and vocational schools such as Great Oaks. But this kind of education and training is a major specialty at Cincinnati's various art schools.

The Art Institute of Cincinnati (www.theartinstituteofcincinnati.com) is the one that used to be located in Walnut Hills, and has a new location on East Kemper Road in the Tri-County area. It offers courses in graphic design, advertising, illustration, computer graphics and digital design. The institute was accredited in 1979, and in 1983 became a charter member of The International Council of Design Schools (ICDS).

The Art Institute of Ohio-Cincinnati on Glendale-Milford Road (www.artinstitutes.edu) is a different institution, started here in 2004, and is one of the 30-plus schools in the Art Institute group. Programs include design, fine arts and media arts, culinary arts, fashion, and fine and performing arts. Together, they boast more than 140,000 alumni. To learn more, visit www.artinstitutes.edu.

There's also the Art Academy of Cincinnati (www.artacademy.edu), founded more than a century ago as a museum school. Located on Jackson Street, it's a small, independent college of art with degree programs.

Many schools offer graphic design training online, making this professional advancement an especially convenient option.

Sales Training
The hot training topic in sales is not subject to trends. Instead, it's a time-tested challenge for sales professionals: how to develop new business.

Employers want sales staff to further develop the ability to prospect. That's a core topic at the Veritas Training Group.

"I work with companies and provide a series of workshops all focused on new business development," says Steve Mulch at Veritas Training.

"The primary workshop is called prospect management. Maintaining existing (sales) relationships is a forte of many sales people," Mulch explains. "A lot of people want the phone to ring and want to be able to respond to that, but we've got to go out and get (the business)."
At Lynn McInturf Associates, a licensee of the Sandler Sales Institute, consultants train sales staffs to get in front of the right prospects, shorten the sales cycle and reduce turnover, according to Karen Singer, an associate with the group.

Both firms advocate having a sales process. "Great selling is a process artfully done," Mulch remarks.

Paralegal Training
Continued growth in the legal field has made the paralegal certificate a popular pursuit at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and other institutions in the Tristate area, including Beckfield College. The course of study requires about 36 credit hours, said Jim Wood, program chair for business management and marketing at Cincinnati State.

Entrepreneurial Certification
In response to a corporate world that's unprotected from downsizing, Cincinnati State offers an entrepreneurship certificate that prepares students to launch their own businesses.

Taking into account the fact that 80 percent of new businesses fail due to lack of planning, poor management and/or dwindling capital, the coursework offers a realistic picture of the lifestyle of a self-employed person, and gives the framework for planning a business launch. It's realism accounts for two-thirds of the students dropping out of the program, Wood says.

"I tell students that one way or another, this $200 class at Cincinnati State is going to save you $10,000 down the road, either by preventing an ill-advised solo business or by teaching valuable management lessons that will prevent the waste of capital," Wood adds.

Other Certification
Butler Tech has a law enforcement instituteue  with customized training for court personal, police officer, and more. The school also offers training for firefighters and emergency medical technicians, as well as manufacturing and construction. Great Oaks offers carpentry, has a police training academy, and is launching a cosmetology course of study.

A number of internet sources, such as the Vocational Schools Database (www.rwm.org)"”can guide you to training sources and options.