The 21st century is vast with opportunities traditional careers, evolving careers, and careers yet to come in fields of electronics, health, technology and so many more. But these opportunities will only be open to those man and women who are prepared.

At Carbon County Career and Technical Institute, men and women are being prepared for these 21st-century opportunities for in this 21st century, there no longer are jobs for men, and jobs for women only jobs for the well prepared.

CCTI calls these 21st century jobs "nontraditional," meaning that these knowledge-based careers are equally accessible to men and women. Today, men are involved in all phases of nursing and cosmetology from hair design to theatrical make-up. In construction, women are involved in carpentry, electronics, plumbing and HVAC.

"We want students to pick the best career choice, but not to be shy and not go into welding because only guys weld, or if you're a guy not going into cosmetology. Don't be afraid because only girls do hair. We know that's not the truth," explained CCTI principal Brent Borzak.

Across the United States, opportunities are opening to people to choose a career that they love, and not be pressured by antiquated stereotypes of which gender should go into what profession. At the moment, Pennsylvania is working to catch up with these changes, and CCTI wants the families in Carbon County to know that they are encouraging anyone who wants to get a good education and training for the field of their choice. They are encouraged to apply to study the field of their choice regardless of their gender.

Sophomore Victoria Costenbader and junior Janai Kerr are studying Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning with instructor Brian Worth. In this job market that supports private homes, industrial buildings, and more recently, the shale gas industry, the students of gas principles, piping, pressurization and furnaces our finding their skills in high demand.

Costenbader likes the HVAC program because it allows you to work with plans and basic hand tools, and well as using her more academic skills of mathematics, design and research. Kerr's father and brother are involved in HVAC. Her brother graduated from CCTI, and when he brought home projects, she became curious and wanted to understand how they worked.

Charles McFeeley, Matthew Conklin, Cody Strohl and Nathan Pfeiffer are taking the Health/Medical Assistant program with instructor Michele Dominic. Each of the men in this traditionally women-oriented field shares one thing in common they want to help people. They see Health/Medical as a way of learning the skills that will open doors to nursing, EMT or firefighting.

Kelsey Oncheck, in instructor Joe Farkas' Electronics class, is doing what she loves, studying electronics.

"At home I build computers for fun," she said. "Ever since I was little, I've been interested in anything dealing with computers. I hope to go to college and obtain a career as an electronics technician.

"We built model radio-controlled cars from kits. We had to do a lot of soldering. We looked at lots of schematics to make sure things went together correctly. We tested everything it was pretty tedious. We got two out of the five running."

Graduates of CCTI have a wide choice of opportunities to further their education through community colleges, four-year colleges, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training programs.

At CCTI, they feel that "no one gender has a lock on any occupation." They encourage students to follow their heart and not be afraid to follow a path less traveled.