OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma is homes to 29 CareerTech centers on 58 campuses across the state with graduates adding more than 3.5 billion dollars to our economy. These centers serve to train thousands of students to enter our workforce or better prepare them for college.

"We're having to build a house for a professor at OU," said Raquell Tipton, a senior at Westmoore High School.

Designing a home is no small task but that's exactly what students at Moore Norman Technology Center are tasked with doing.

"It's like a big puzzle piece, you have to make everything work and you have to put it together and just make sure everything can fit together," Tipton said.

Tipton and Emma Trowbridge, also a senior at Westmoore High School, take the drafting class knowing they'll graduate with more than a diploma.

"I can make anywhere between 16 to about 35 an hour and I would gain experience just working in the field," said Trowbridge. "It would just be a better use of my time instead of working at McDonalds or Starbucks. I might as well gain the experience for what I want to do in the future."

The skills they're learning here can send them straight into the professional world or help them land a part-time job while in college.

"I can make a lot more money drafting than I could any other job, a normal college job," Tipton said.

"Their chances of graduating from the college of engineering are much higher than people who go in from just common ed because they've had exposure to what it's really like," John Mean, instructor at Moore Norman Technology Center.

Oklahoma has 29 technology center districts with 58 campuses that offer career training to high school students but also adults. Adrian Carter decided college wasn't right for him.

"My goal was to make a job somewhere hopefully getting 60 or 70 thousand dollars a year," Carter said.

Carter is well on his way as a maintenance technician at Nestle Purina Pet Care company in Edmond. But he couldn't have gotten here without his training at Francis Tuttle Technology Center.

"Pretty much anything that I do at my job, you can find here," he said about the equipment at Francis Tuttle Technology Center.

Danny Ware is an instructor in the advanced manufacturing program.

He works directly with industry leaders to mimic the work environments these students plan to enter.

"They get such a wide base of knowledge," Ware said. "They can go to work in manufacturing as a maintenance tech, they can go to work for a utility company, they can go to work for oil and gas refineries."

Since August of last year, 200 jobs have been posted and the average pay out of the program starts between $40,000 to $50,000. People just need to enroll.

"The industry's screaming for help," Ware said. "We have openings, we should have people lined up to memorial to get in here but they're not."

High school students living in a technology center district attend tuition free, while adults are charged nominal tuition. And, Career Tech centers have a 94 percent placement rate.

"A young man like me coming from where I came from, you know, I wasn't expecting to make that type of money and to have that opportunity, it's a major blessing," Carter said.

Technology center students also can earn highly affordable and transferable college credit from area colleges in many career majors. For more information on Oklahoma CareerTech Centers, click here