Getting the right education to support your career path

For Fulton Herreras, education is truly a means to an end. Each educational decision he’s made throughout his life has been to enhance his career opportunities in order to support himself and his family. “I had to start working at an early age to help support my family, so I ended up dropping out of high school,” says Herreras who later earned his GED and went on to college. Due to the real world factors in his life, a traditional, 4-year college program wasn’t the right fit, so Herreras has earned a variety of Associate’s Degrees and certificates to improve his employability and skill set.

Adding one more thing to an already hectic schedule.

“Working a full time and job, as well as having a wife and kids, proved to be a great challenge because of the lack of time after work,” says Herreras about going back to school. Finding the time to do homework and the time to spend with the wife and kids was a difficult schedule to juggle. “Also, just getting myself motivated to make the change from having the nights off to going back to school was hard.” There was a time when it was tempting to just stop school, focus on work, and get the time in the evenings back for the family, says Herreras. Once he felt comfortable and secure in his job, the thought did cross his mind to leave school, but he had almost completed to Associate’s Degrees. “There was no way I was going to stop and not finish. I came too far to quit,” he says.

“Schooling influences my career a great deal.”

After completing his two degrees in welding and machining, Herreras became the Facility Maintenance Supervisor for the city of Safford, Arizona. “Without going back to school to continue my education, I would not be in the position I am in today,” he says.

Herreras learned early on that working with his hands was a passion of his. His background, before continuing his education was in carpentry. Working in the profession for close to 30 years, he finally burnt out which is what propelled him to further his education and career prospects. He got on track to earn his Associate’s Degrees because the areas they focused on, welding and machining, allows him to continue to work with his hands. He’s now in a job that he loves, that aligns with his passions, with potential to move up as he develops his skills.

Be passionate about what you study.

As a father, Herreras thinks about what he’ll tell his own children when it comes time for them to decide to continue their education. “I believe you have to be passionate about whatever program you decide to take if you’re going to do well in it,” says Herreras, who also advices you pick an area of interest that has obvious application in the real world and to not shy away from continuing to educate yourself.

When asked whether he’d encourage his own kids to seek out a traditional Bachelor’s Degree vs other options, Herreras stated, “I tell my kids I’ll support whatever they decide to do, but at least get some kind of college degree where there is a need and an abundance of job opportunities. The real world is tough, but it is even tougher without a high school diploma and/or a college degree.”

FultonHeadshotFulton lives in Thatcher, AZ. He works for the city of Safford, AZ. He’s 39, and enjoys the life he has with his wife and kids. He’s always willing to teach as well as learn.