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kfeusse
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we have a 19 year old son with one year of college under his belt.  He is struggling to figure out what he wants to do with his life.  We think he has mild autism and so we are trying to figure out what type of careers are best suited for someone like him. 

His strengths are his caring personality, he is sensitive to others.  He is good with animals.  He is good with remembering numbers and events (especially those that are important to him).  He loves sports of all kinds and is very good at most of them.  He is described as being athletic.  He is also musical.  He remembers stats of his favorite ball players and teams....even stats from well before his time.  He is very orderly (not necessarily neat), but he likes things to be in the same order.  He thrives in a job where he isn't sitting or standing in the same place for a long period of time.  Last year he worked as a cashier and hated it, this summer he is working for our small town mowing grass and that fits him better.  

So, I don't know if you all can give us some direction in which to consider.  He doesn't want to teach because he struggles with getting his thoughts to come out through his mouth and even in writing.  When he isn't thinking about what he is saying, he speaks just normally.  So we are just trying to think outside the box and if you guys can help us, we would be so grateful. 

Thanks. 

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Posted (edited)

I am looking for career jobs ideas.

As far as favorite subjects...PE and music are his favorite...probably because you didn't have to sit and listen to a lecture...he is all about being actively involved. 

Edited by kfeusse
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What about bookkeeping? He could work for a variety of small businesses keeping their books - (at least I assume this is how it might work) - so some variety but general rules apply to each situation? 

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16 minutes ago, Starr said:

There are a variety of medical professions that might suit him. They have their routines but differences, lab, xray, nursing come to mind.

Hmmm.... that is interesting.  Thanks. 

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1 minute ago, Bambam said:

What about bookkeeping? He could work for a variety of small businesses keeping their books - (at least I assume this is how it might work) - so some variety but general rules apply to each situation? 

A desk job will not suit him,  I don't think.  

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57 minutes ago, Starr said:

There are a variety of medical professions that might suit him. They have their routines but differences, lab, xray, nursing come to mind.

This reminds me of a friend that completed an Occupational Therapy Assistant program in 18 months at a community college. There is a similar program for Physical Therapy Assistants. Might be good for someone that likes sports. It has a great salary for such a short program.

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My first thoughts were also in the medical field - there are a lot of positions out there and many of them have a routine but involve a lot of different tasks, plus would allow him to work with different people and show his caring side. And there's a good bit of security in them.

Is he in community college now? Has he talked to a guidance counselor there?

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I know you said he doesn’t want to teach, but what about a PE teacher? I had a phenomenal PE teacher for all of K12 except 7-8. I don’t remember him actually talking all that much, more just demonstrating things and organizing and running activities. Has he had any experience coaching sports?

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7 minutes ago, Frances said:

I know you said he doesn’t want to teach, but what about a PE teacher? I had a phenomenal PE teacher for all of K12 except 7-8. I don’t remember him actually talking all that much, more just demonstrating things and organizing and running activities. Has he had any experience coaching sports?

I had thought about this too... but just didn't know.  No,  he has not coached.... but that is an interesting thought. 

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32 minutes ago, Calm37 said:

This reminds me of a friend that completed an Occupational Therapy Assistant program in 18 months at a community college. There is a similar program for Physical Therapy Assistants. Might be good for someone that likes sports. It has a great salary for such a short program.

I didn't realize that was such a short program. 

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28 minutes ago, Farrar said:

My first thoughts were also in the medical field - there are a lot of positions out there and many of them have a routine but involve a lot of different tasks, plus would allow him to work with different people and show his caring side. And there's a good bit of security in them.

Is he in community college now? Has he talked to a guidance counselor there?

He is at a small 4 year college.  No,  he hasn't contacted a guidance counselor,  but that would be a good idea. 

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Posted (edited)

Consider Industrial Engineering. It’s not always at a desk.  It involves plenty of time in factories, making them safer and more efficient. Listening to people on a line & helping improve their working conditions to improve efficiency. 
 

ETA: These jobs will expand over the next 4 years, since we are now more aware that outsourcing everything is a national security risk I believe more factories will be built here. Not necessarily the same ones that were lost before, but anything pertaining to national security.  

Edited by Katy
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Just now, Katy said:

Consider Industrial Engineering. It’s not always at a desk.  It involves plenty of time in factories, making them safer and more efficient. Listening to people on a line & helping improve their working conditions to improve efficiency. 

Lots of math required? He likes random numbers, but he doesn't like calculations and the like. 

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1 minute ago, kfeusse said:

Lots of math required? He likes random numbers, but he doesn't like calculations and the like. 

It requires almost a math minor to get through any engineering degree.  I’m under the impression math on the job is more counting and simple, algebra 2 types of equations, and like being an actuary most of the math is done on computer. But yes, it involves stuff like excel calculations for sure.

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Posted (edited)

Here's a short article that may jump-start some career exploration: "Great Career Paths for Teens with Autism".

Agreeing that an AAS degree (usually 2 years) might be a good place to look -- the AAS Associate degree is the "degree-to-work" type of degree, so lots of hands-on and "directly applicable to the job" types of courses.

I just did a quick search on the US Bureau of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook website, and went to the "Search Occupations By" search engine on the main page, only limited the search to level of education to "Associate degree", and came up with the following ideas -- all are growing fields with decent wages:

AAS degree:
- Cardiovascular Tech
- Dental Hygienist
- Diagnostic Sonographer (sonogram tech)
- Massage Therapist
- Nuclear Medicine Tech
- Occupational Therapy Assistant
- Physical Therapy Assistant
- Radiation Therapist
- Radiologic & MRI Tech
- Respiratory Therapist

Other ideas:
- Vet Tech -- AAS; does not pay as well, but works with animals
- Animal Groomer or Trainer or Dog Walker -- no degree required, but also a lower pay job
- Piano Tuner -- assist someone who does this to learn how, and then do it as a freelance job? -- however, NOT a growing field, so it may be hard to" break into" this career area

Edited by Lori D.
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If he likes the lawn mowing is it worth looking into something in landscaping type work?  I don’t know how well paying it is in the US but if he has the skills to work toward running his own business he might do quite well.  Another thing that could work if he likes outdoor active work is maybe something in forestry.

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5 hours ago, kfeusse said:

That's a good thought.  What does it take to achieve this?

BS in exercise science+Masters. My  DS who is a passionate athlete started out majoring in Athletic Training. It was a 5 year program ending with a Masters. Very medical, required lots of anatomy and physiology and Chem. Tons of memorization ( he hated that and switched majors. Clinical work comes late during course of study. 

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I would think he would enjoy a medical profession, too, perhaps a caretaker job.  It seems like if he has a job with people, he needs a chance to make connections with those people instead of hurrying them through a line. A cashier is actually pretty lonely, for all it is in the middle of everything.  Our oldest ds went from the grocery store to finding a better fit at the movie theater - more opportunity to move, to talk to people, to do different jobs all evening..

However, I would also encourage yours to become a Big Brother.  No job is going to utilize all his skills effectively, but this would be a good opportunity to have a chance to enjoy doing something on the side with volunteer work, too.  Camp counselor would also probably be a nice fit for a summer opportunity.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

If he likes the lawn mowing is it worth looking into something in landscaping type work?  I don’t know how well paying it is in the US but if he has the skills to work toward running his own business he might do quite well.  Another thing that could work if he likes outdoor active work is maybe something in forestry.

I met an interesting older gentleman at a farmer's market yesterday. He had a booth sharpening knives and other tools. He told me about his younger years when he had his own window washing business working for customers on the coast of Maine. He didn't say so, but I assume he made big bucks because of the wealthy summer people here. Anyway, he said he had so many customers, he made it a point to "fire" two of them every year. Now, there are only a handful of people who do window washing in this area, and they're in high demand. 

I thought it was interesting to consider professions that are always needed, but that not so many people want to do these days. 

Edited by Kanin
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9 hours ago, kfeusse said:

Hmmm.... that is interesting.  Thanks. 

I know several medical professionals on the spectrum.  My smallish ambulance company has at least three paramedics diagnosed with high functioning autism.  I also know a couple X Ray techs and two nurses.  There isn’t a lot of small talk required and medical algorithms give a sense of predictability.

 

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8 hours ago, Katy said:

Consider Industrial Engineering. It’s not always at a desk.  It involves plenty of time in factories, making them safer and more efficient. Listening to people on a line & helping improve their working conditions to improve efficiency. 
 

ETA: These jobs will expand over the next 4 years, since we are now more aware that outsourcing everything is a national security risk I believe more factories will be built here. Not necessarily the same ones that were lost before, but anything pertaining to national security.  

this is interesting....we will look into it.  

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8 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Here's a short article that may jump-start some career exploration: "Great Career Paths for Teens with Autism".

Agreeing that an AAS degree (usually 2 years) might be a good place to look -- the AAS Associate degree is the "degree-to-work" type of degree, so lots of hands-on and "directly applicable to the job" types of courses.

I just did a quick search on the US Bureau of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook website, and went to the "Search Occupations By" search engine on the main page, only limited the search to level of education to "Associate degree", and came up with the following ideas -- all are growing fields with decent wages:

AAS degree:
- Cardiovascular Tech
- Dental Hygienist
- Diagnostic Sonographer (sonogram tech)
- Massage Therapist
- Nuclear Medicine Tech
- Occupational Therapy Assistant
- Physical Therapy Assistant
- Radiation Therapist
- Radiologic & MRI Tech
- Respiratory Therapist

Bachelor degree:
- Athletic Trainer

Other ideas:
- Vet Tech -- AAS; does not pay as well, but works with animals
- Animal Groomer or Trainer or Dog Walker -- no degree required, but also a lower pay job
- Piano Tuner -- assist someone who does this to learn how, and then do it as a freelance job? -- however, NOT a growing field, so it may be hard to" break into" this career area

this was all very helpful.  thanks.  Many ideas I never considered.  thanks for the links too. 

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3 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

If he likes the lawn mowing is it worth looking into something in landscaping type work?  I don’t know how well paying it is in the US but if he has the skills to work toward running his own business he might do quite well.  Another thing that could work if he likes outdoor active work is maybe something in forestry.

yeah...maybe...this is an interesting idea too....wow...lots of great things to explore.

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A thought on the sports interest. I have a 21 yo who is pursuing a career in baseball operations. He worked in ticket operations while he was in college and was on a path to continue full time after graduation Dec 2020 but Covid turned sports upside down. So he is back at it now that things have opened up. He hasn’t secured a full time job yet but he has had some interviews for entry level jobs that required a college degree such as ticket office manager. It is more than just selling tickets at the box office. It is running the financials at the end of the night, coordinating staff, customer service, etc. And the best part is spending his workday at the ballfield!

This ds is bright and a good worker but not academic really. He got through college but it was a means to an end for a degree and he struggled with some harder classes. But this is a career that requires professionalism and good decision making etc without being heavy on academic smarts if that makes sense. He gets to walk around the stadium, etc not just stuck at a desk. Most of the people he encounters just need help and aren’t super difficult or anything. Of course there are exceptions but most people out at the ballfield just want to have a good time. So while they get busy it isn’t normally super stressful. 

Ds isn’t going to get rich doing this but if he gets his foot in the door and does well there is plenty of opportunity to make a living while getting to go to work at the ballpark. It seems to really suit this ds and his personality so hopefully he lands something soon. 
 

So kind of an unusual suggestion but your mention of sports made me think of it. My ds got a degree in Marketing. Mostly because that was the easiest business degree he was going to be able to get. So far that seems to be good for the types of jobs he has applied for. Like I said, he hasn’t landed anything full time yet but he has gotten enough interviews that it seems a viable option for him.

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I just checked the radiation therapy programs that were in a post up thread, and all of the programs I found anywhere near me in the Midwest are 4 year degrees instead of 2 years. And the programs had average starting salaries in the $95-97k range, which is higher than most engineering jobs (even though there’s basically no promotion potential, so presumably that maxes out).

I’m happy not working, but if I’d known that when I went back to school I absolutely would have chosen that instead of nursing. Great benefits, predictable daytime hours, meaningful work, decent salary & working conditions. Less acting like a glorified waitress, less body fluids. If any of my kids want to do something medical but not graduate level, I’ll steer them towards that.

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3 hours ago, teachermom2834 said:

A thought on the sports interest. I have a 21 yo who is pursuing a career in baseball operations. He worked in ticket operations while he was in college and was on a path to continue full time after graduation Dec 2020 but Covid turned sports upside down. So he is back at it now that things have opened up. He hasn’t secured a full time job yet but he has had some interviews for entry level jobs that required a college degree such as ticket office manager. It is more than just selling tickets at the box office. It is running the financials at the end of the night, coordinating staff, customer service, etc. And the best part is spending his workday at the ballfield!

This ds is bright and a good worker but not academic really. He got through college but it was a means to an end for a degree and he struggled with some harder classes. But this is a career that requires professionalism and good decision making etc without being heavy on academic smarts if that makes sense. He gets to walk around the stadium, etc not just stuck at a desk. Most of the people he encounters just need help and aren’t super difficult or anything. Of course there are exceptions but most people out at the ballfield just want to have a good time. So while they get busy it isn’t normally super stressful. 

Ds isn’t going to get rich doing this but if he gets his foot in the door and does well there is plenty of opportunity to make a living while getting to go to work at the ballpark. It seems to really suit this ds and his personality so hopefully he lands something soon. 
 

So kind of an unusual suggestion but your mention of sports made me think of it. My ds got a degree in Marketing. Mostly because that was the easiest business degree he was going to be able to get. So far that seems to be good for the types of jobs he has applied for. Like I said, he hasn’t landed anything full time yet but he has gotten enough interviews that it seems a viable option for him.

thank you for all of this.   I really appreciate all of the ideas.  

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21 minutes ago, Katy said:

I just checked the radiation therapy programs that were in a post up thread, and all of the programs I found anywhere near me in the Midwest are 4 year degrees instead of 2 years. And the programs had average starting salaries in the $95-97k range, which is higher than most engineering jobs (even though there’s basically no promotion potential, so presumably that maxes out).

I’m happy not working, but if I’d known that when I went back to school I absolutely would have chosen that instead of nursing. Great benefits, predictable daytime hours, meaningful work, decent salary & working conditions. Less acting like a glorified waitress, less body fluids. If any of my kids want to do something medical but not graduate level, I’ll steer them towards that.

good to know this.   thank you.

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My aspie son got an Asc of Arts and works in a library. He loves loves it. Different jobs all day long and plenty of chances to interact with patrons. He may go on to get more education in library science, but is happy now, gets state benefits and a state retirement. Won’t get rich but has everything he needs and is a job he absolutely loves.

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You're getting some great ideas here, and it's always good to research and explore. However, I would also spend time reassuring him that he doesn't need to know what he's going to do with his life at 18, or 20, or 24. It's quite common for those ages to have no idea, and to switch from one thing to another. One of my dds has been working for about a year after graduation, and is strongly consider a pretty big change. My other dd is entering her senior year as an accounting major and has pretty much decided against accounting. I know many young people who don't really settle into a certain type of job until mid-20s or late 20s, and it's fine. 

So just remind him that it's absolutely okay to have no idea at this point, and that lots of people have jobs completely unrelated to their major. 

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My husband wanted to be a PE teacher. A dear friend who had been a teacher for many years advised him against it. PE is one of first things to be cut when budgets are tight and so it doesn’t have great job security. 

He decided to teach math instead and over the last 16 years, he has said at least twice a year, “I’m so glad I didn’t become a PE teacher”. 

I know some PE teachers have been in one school for many years, but from what I’ve seen, for every one that’s had a steady job, there are 10 that haven’t. 

Just food for thought. 

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Allied health jobs seem like a good option if he doesn’t want a desk job.  

Another thought if he likes working outside is that arborists/tree services are desperate for trainees here.  My sense is the earning potential is higher than gardeners.  

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2 hours ago, mum said:

My husband wanted to be a PE teacher. A dear friend who had been a teacher for many years advised him against it. PE is one of first things to be cut when budgets are tight and so it doesn’t have great job security. 

He decided to teach math instead and over the last 16 years, he has said at least twice a year, “I’m so glad I didn’t become a PE teacher”. 

I know some PE teachers have been in one school for many years, but from what I’ve seen, for every one that’s had a steady job, there are 10 that haven’t. 

Just food for thought. 

Being a PE teacher is NOT a safe bet, however, being a teacher who is also a coach is a really strong bet. Teacher-coach positions are among the last to be cut in my district. The safest teacher-coach positions in my district are Math or Science paired with any sport.

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, kfeusse said:

His strengths are his caring personality, he is sensitive to others.

 

20 hours ago, kfeusse said:

He loves sports of all kinds and is very good at most of them.  He is described as being athletic. 

 

20 hours ago, kfeusse said:

He thrives in a job where he isn't sitting or standing in the same place for a long period of time.

 

20 hours ago, kfeusse said:

He doesn't want to teach because he struggles with getting his thoughts to come out through his mouth and even in writing. 

This all sounds a lot like my husband. He is a high school teacher and the head tennis coach, and he absolutely thrives at both. He didn't want to teach either when he was first in college, as he was not a great student growing up. But he worked as a substitute teacher for awhile (which is an awesome college job, by the way; it pays pretty well, and you can schedule your classes so that you have a day or two free each week to sub), and he soon realized that teaching is a great job if you like people. It is also not really a desk job. Yes, there's grading, but the actual teaching is more of a move-around-the-room kind of job, and he loves it.

The coaching came later, but it is a natural fit for both an athletic person and for someone who would rather not be sitting behind a desk all day. He gets to help a lot of kids get better at their sport, every day is different, and he gets a good mix of active job with a decent amount of autonomy over his day. Plus, he stays in great shape (not every coach does, but it makes it very possible).

 

Edited by caayenne
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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, AngieW in Texas said:

however, being a teacher who is also a coach is a really strong bet. Teacher-coach positions are among the last to be cut in my district. The safest teacher-coach positions in my district are Math or Science paired with any sport.

You just beat me to it! Our (very good) school district nearly always has at least one opening for a teacher-coach, so it's a field you can break into, but you can make a great career out of it if you like it.

Edited by caayenne
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1 hour ago, LucyStoner said:

Allied health jobs seem like a good option if he doesn’t want a desk job.  

Another thought if he likes working outside is that arborists/tree services are desperate for trainees here.  My sense is the earning potential is higher than gardeners.  

Oh yes arborists are very well paid here though there is some risk with that kind of work.

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This Allied Health site looks like it has a lot of potential information: https://explorehealthcareers.org/field/allied-health-professions/ DH works in healthcare, and good techs of all kinds, phlebotomists, etc. are really valuable and appreciated. 

My son with mild autism is going into the Building Trades and wants to do construction. The trades are hemorrhaging experienced workers. Getting an electrician around here is nearly impossible. Getting a plumber gets harder all the time, though we're established customers with one, so that helps.

 

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Our county has a Rehabilitation Services program designed in part to help teens with autism and other special needs transition to employment. I have several friends who have had children attend—what is especially great is that many of the training programs are funded by the state. 
 

Look into the resources in your area, and don’t be afraid to get an official diagnosis, reach out to a therapist, or otherwise get additional help. He is in a real common situation, and getting help now can help him find stability and success.

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5 hours ago, Katy said:

I just checked the radiation therapy programs that were in a post up thread, and all of the programs I found anywhere near me in the Midwest are 4 year degrees instead of 2 years...

It could be that some of what used to be "tech" jobs (2-year AAS degree) are turning into more advanced "therapy" jobs (4-year Bachelor degree). Both of the community colleges in my state still over respiratory, radiology, and other medical tech AAS degrees, so someone must still be hiring. 😉 And, that can be a way of getting into the field, earning a higher wage, and if wanting to continue and move up the ladder, go for the Bachelor degree and you're already half-way there with the AAS... Just a thought!

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Posted (edited)

 

On 5/22/2021 at 8:40 PM, kfeusse said:

That's a good thought.  What does it take to achieve this?

Athletic Trainer


Side thought: The son of a homeschooling friend got his Bachelor in Exercise Science, worked for a few years in Athletic Training (didn't need a Master's), and has since switched to focus on a specific type of physical therapy or muscle manipulation called Egoscue. He is now (not quite 30yo) the director of a clinic that is devoted to this technique in his city.

Edited by Lori D.
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We had a career book that also suggested that a person look at the lifestyles of a career. Do you want to work m-f 9-5, have summers off, work holidays ,weekends, wear uniform, work at a desk, cubicle, work up the ladder, be on call, overtime opportunities, investments, salary , financial goals- relocate, travel opportunities, be able to leave work at work, be your own boss, always work for someone else, big company , small business, be independent, work virtually, commute time, the list went on.

some of these questions helped my sons decide what they did and did not want in career lifestyles.

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I have a nephew that has degrees in athletic training and one of his jobs was traveling all over the world with his team during training & competitions- including the olympics. For much of the time it was a 24/7 job. He did that full time plus for 12 years.

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2 hours ago, Lori D. said:

It could be that some of what used to be "tech" jobs (2-year AAS degree) are turning into more advanced "therapy" jobs (4-year Bachelor degree). Both of the community colleges in my state still over respiratory, radiology, and other medical tech AAS degrees, so someone must still be hiring. 😉 And, that can be a way of getting into the field, earning a higher wage, and if wanting to continue and move up the ladder, go for the Bachelor degree and you're already half-way there with the AAS... Just a thought!

A radiation therapist is the person who gives a cancer patient radiation.  It’s adjacent to the tech imaging jobs, but it is a different degree than a tech. From what I read there are a few hospital schools who have their own programs but most jobs require a 4-year degree now.  The descriptions I read made it seem like the more competitive of the imaging programs, which frankly makes sense with that level of danger and that level of salary. 

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