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Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck: Stacking Workforce Trainings

There are multiple ways you can stack workforce trainings to help you forge a pathway to a better career. For some industries, training can build one upon another – from basic to advanced. But for other fields, having a varied mix of certifiable skills can make you a more well-rounded job candidate.

“I recommend that students find a program they are interested in and follow the pathway for stackable credentials (when available),” says Brittney McDaniel, FastForward Career Coach at Piedmont Virginia Community College. “That way, they complete training with multiple credentials in similar fields, making them more marketable to an employer.”

Logistics and Transportation / Skilled Trades

Our friends over at Patrick Henry Community College talked about its pathways for construction trades. To start, all students are required to complete Introductory Craft Skills (also known as CORE), which earns them a credential from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Then there are multiple training levels for HVAC, Plumbing and Carpentry – which all result in certifications through NCCER.

Community College Workforce Alliance in the Greater Richmond Area likes to stack CORE with HVAC and Heavy Equipment Operator.

Looking for something with a little more spark? Virginia Highlands Community College recommends stacking Electricity with Photovoltaic training, which is a formal way to say “solar.”


The healthcare industry is a very popular industry for stacking credentials. A really common combination of trainings is Certified Nursing Aide, Medication Aide, EKG Technician and/or Phlebotomy. There are also pathways built around the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant program.

Information Technology

Here’s an example of an industry leader offering multiple credentials that stack together nicely. Piedmont Virginia Community College shared that packaging CompTIA A+, Security+ and Network+ can help make you a well-rounded, skilled IT employee.

But where do you start? Contact your local FastForward Career Coach to see if there’s a pathway that helps you get to where you want to go. And once you do that, keep them on speed dial.

“Ask for resume help from your career coach, get connected with your instructor (often they get job leads sent directly to them from employers). Taking advantage of these services is a great way to get the most bang for your buck,” Meghan Copenhaver, FastForward Career Coach at Virginia Highland Community College.