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By John Gonzalez
CCC Journalism Program

This week the Career and Technical Institute at Camden County College held its third annual Technical Test Drive for prospective students interested in a career in the trades.

The event started Monday with sit-ins for the cosmetology program beginning at 3 p.m. at the Camden County Technical School campus in Sicklerville. The Technical Test Drive included nine other trade programs — autocad, automotive technology, baking and pastry, carpentry, computer technician, electrical residential, HVAC, veterinary assistant, and welding. The event concluded Thursday.

The Technical Test Drives have been successful, said Vicki Pawlowski, an instructor in the cosmetology program. “About 50 percent of students who register for the test drive enroll in the actual program,” Pawlowski said.

The cosmetology course, according to the college’s website, “consists of hands-on training using all implements and performing basic designs on mannequins and patrons in a clinical salon setting.” Along with hands-on training and advance techniques, students learn about the business of cosmetology, including New Jersey laws and shop management. The 10-month program provides 1,000 hours of instruction with industry experts. Classes meet from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday with a one-hour break in between. Students work in a full salon setting in which they rack up their hours through clinical and theory studies.

With competition from other cosmetology programs in the area such as Rizzieri Aveda and Empire Beauty, Camden County College has been able to keep enrollment steady with 20 or more students filling the program at each start-up date. “Students are not bored (and) they finish the program in a shorter amount of time,” said Paulette Curcio, an instructor in the cosmetology program. As to why students choose Camden County College rather than the traditional private schools, Curcio stated, “The students get an excellent education (from expert instructors) … and tuition is low.”

The total cost of attendance for Camden County College before financial aid is $6,854, while at Rizzieri it is $20,000, according to the institutions’ websites. Rizzieri’s program requires students to complete 1,200 hours while Camden County College’s requires 1,000 hours. Among those hours, the first 600 at Rizzieri are theory hours, which means students cannot begin hands-on activity until those have been completed. At Camden County College, these hours are integrated, which allows students to practice what they learn as they proceed.

On Thursdays during parts of the academic year, the cosmetology program offers a clinic to the public that is run by the students with prices nearly half of what patrons would pay at area salons. Only students who have completed 600 hours of clinical and theory studies and have received their student permit may take part in the clinic.

Those interested in applying for trade programs at Camden County College should visit the Career and Technical Studies page of the college’s website at https://camdencc.edu/academics-1/trade-careers.

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