Story by Get There, Florida Department of Education
February marks a special time to recognize and celebrate the incredible journey of Career and Technical Education (CTE). CTE programs throughout Florida are rooted in limitless potential and presents a key to personal and professional growth. CTE Month is a great time to recognize the pivotal role CTE plays in preparing students for successful careers.
Successful students like Leisa Davis.
Leisa Davis has dedicated her career to serving her community as a firefighter and paramedic in Florida. Her path to becoming a first responder was ignited by a Career and Technical Education program. Through the firefighter and paramedic program at Tallahassee Community College’s Fire Academy, Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic programs, Davis obtained the necessary certifications and clinical experience to land a job at her first-choice fire department after graduating. Now, Davis holds the position of fire medic and continues to advance her skills through ongoing training and recently earned additional certifications to become a fire engineer. Davis also serves on the board of her local volunteer firefighter organization, is an instructor for the Cadets program and works a second job as a paramedic on an ambulance.
“I always knew I wanted a career where I could help people in a hands-on way,” says Davis. “When I discovered the firefighter, EMT and paramedic programs, I knew right away that was the path for me. I have the job every kid wants when they grow up! As a firefighter and paramedic, I can work on an engine or truck company, an ambulance, a helicopter or in a hospital, the opportunities are endless — every day is full of variety and excitement. The ability to help people is what matters the most to me.”
In fact, most firefighter and EMT programs take about six months to obtain a certification, with the optional paramedic program averaging an additional year in most cases and hosts an average starting salary of around $55,000. In Florida there are currently over 20,000 jobs available in this pathway.
For students eager to fast-track their education, CTE is a ticket to a world of opportunities. With minimal enrollment barriers and an astounding 17 career pathways to choose from, students can gain essential skills through immersive, hands-on experiences. These programs are not only convenient but also affordable and can be completed in about a year, opening doors to high-wage potential careers, and college degrees can be obtained while working, often with tuition reimbursement.
In Florida, there are nearly 800,000 K-12 CTE students — the highest in the state’s history — more than 412,000 postsecondary CTE students and 20,000 registered apprentices and pre-apprentices engaged in workforce education.
“I chose this job, it means something to me, it’s my dream job,” says Davis. “Florida has a multitude of job opportunities. We need firefighters, we need paramedics. Florida has programs like fire academy, EMT school and paramedic.”
CTE gives students a head start to a fulfilling career and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in their communities. For Davis, that impact is helping people in her community each shift as a firefighter and paramedic. Her story is a testament to the power of skills-based education and following your passion.
As a proud partner of Get There, Florida’s workforce education initiative is excited to join in the celebration of CTE Month.
Register for FCAN’s February 26 webinar “Florida’s CTE System: An Overview and Program Practices” to learn more.