Photo of Scott Queen smiling

Careers you can train for in six months or less

By Scott T. Queen, Ed.D.
Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development
Blue Ridge Community College

Today’s community college student—especially the adult learner—has finite resources. They are often working and juggling family responsibilities. When considering whether or not to enroll in school, they typically have four key questions: How much will it cost? How long is it going to take? How will I benefit in the end? And what will I have to give up for the duration (such as earnings, time with family, and hobbies)?

As a college, we know we need to provide short-term training opportunities for individuals to get them into — or back into — the workforce as quickly as possible. We’re constantly communicating with our partners to adjust programming in response to the needs of our local and regional businesses and industries.

At Blue Ridge, we offer a variety of training programs you can complete in six months or less for careers in public safety, healthcare, skilled trades, and advanced manufacturing. So, if you’re looking to increase your earning potential and career opportunities in the near future, consider one of the following options.

Public safety careers
You can train to become a police officer or firefighter in six months or an emergency medical technician (EMT) in only two to three months.

Healthcare careers
If you’re looking to go into healthcare, you can complete training for one of the following careers in two to three months: behavioral health technician, dialysis technician, electrocardiogram (EKG) technician, healthcare billing and coding professional, phlebotomist, or home care aide.

If you have four to six months to train, you can become a medical assistant or nurse aide.

Students who have completed the medical assistant program and become certified can take the Nurse Aide Refresher course instead of the entire Nurse Aide course (40 hours versus 160 hours). Blue Ridge’s Allied Health coordinators recommend stacking a combination of the medical assistant, phlebotomy, and EKG technician training to increase your knowledge base and opportunities for employment.

These programs prepare students to sit for a state or national certification exam.

Skilled trades careers
In only two to three months, you can complete one of the following programs: residential electrical, plumbing (under development), masonry, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

Advanced manufacturing careers
If you’re interested in the booming field of advanced manufacturing, you can complete training for welding, machining fundamentals and industrial maintenance in four to six months.

Expand your career options and earning potential
The majority of our short-term training programs are well-attended. Two of the most popular among healthcare include nurse aide and medical assistant programs. We are also seeing stronger enrollments in our skilled trades and advanced manufacturing programs, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), residential electrical, machining, industrial maintenance, and welding.

Positions are now available across all employment sectors. We continuously monitor employment trends through the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board and other sources when considering additions or changes to our programming. We are committed to offering training opportunities that supply our local and regional employers with a skilled workforce and lead to employment at a living wage.

As technology and processes continue to evolve, it is important for workers in all sectors to keep their skills current to be marketable. So, even if you already work in one of these fields, you may be interested in continuing your education to increase your income and promotional opportunities.

If you’d like to advance your career, find a job you enjoy, or earn more, visit to learn more about our programs.