What is Job Corps?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Job Corps is a US program, administered by the US Secretary and the Department of Labor, that works with teens and young adults between the ages of 16-24 to offer them opportunities to further their education, train in certain professions, and gain social skills and experience through vocational training. The program was developed in 1964 and was loosely modeled on the Civilian Conservation Corps, which offered similar opportunities to young adults during the Depression. Since 1964, Job Corps has provided services for over two million people. It especially targets those youths whose families are at or below the poverty line, who have perhaps been unsuccessful in the traditional education environment, or who would lack the opportunity to train for certain professions where they live.


People who join Job Corps usually must commit to remaining in the program for a certain period of time, usually not longer than two years. They work with counselors to develop a career path, consider the available education opportunities (including getting a high school diploma or completing a couple of years of community college), and in gaining valuable work experience. While students participate in Job Corps they have housing, medical care and small living allowances. Further, when they exit the program, they can avail themselves of effective job placement services, which help them to find good jobs.

Roughly 90% of Job Corps graduates either begin work after finishing the program, join the military, or continue their education at the college level. They also may have help finding places to live or be directed to financial services for continuing education, and living expenses. These “transitional” aids can continue for 18 months after a person successfully completes the Job Corps program.

There are over 100 Job Corps centers in the US, and applicants can contact the center closest to them for more information. Not all who apply qualify for the program, and those judging applications need to see that a person is sincerely interested in full participation in the program. Career paths can vary by location of each center, but there are a number to choose from. These include careers in medicine, computer technology, a variety of mechanic and repair industries, and the food sciences. People can exit the program fully prepared to enter their chosen career or well set to enter college to pursue additional education needed for their career. Since Job Corps participants frequently come from low-income backgrounds, they can often receive maximum financial aid for continuing college.

For more information about program eligibility, its requirements, its services, and enrollment, visit the Department of Labor website. You can find out which centers are located near you, and look at the list of career paths possible. For many, this program has provided a way out of poverty or difficult circumstances, and given people of marginalized backgrounds the opportunity to seek meaningful careers and valuable education at no cost but their own efforts.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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as a former student of the job corps located in san marcos, tx, i can personally attest to the fact that the u.s. government allows these centers to recruit and train people whose immigration status in this country is questionable at best. why should 'english as a second language' even be offered at a vocational school funded and run by the government? just thought you should know.

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