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High Demand Jobs? Look to Process Technology

High Demand Jobs? Look to Process Technology

Process Technology, or PTEC, is a high-demand field here in Louisiana with great opportunities for long-term careers. Most of the community and technical colleges offer dedicated PTEC programs that prepare individuals to become refinery, chemical and other industry related operators. The curriculum leading to the Process Technology Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree was developed in collaboration with local industry and is a rigorous study of the common operating processes found in industrial plants that will prepare students for high-skill, high-wage jobs needed in the manufacturing industry. Upon graduation from the program, students are prepared for an entry-level process operator position in this high-demand job market.

Richard Louviere, PTEC program coordinator at SOWELA Technical Community College, explains that process technology education has come a long way since the early 2000s. “Process technology wasn’t considered a craft, it was just taught on the job,” he says. “However, that changed in about 2002 as community and technical colleges began to develop a curriculum for PTEC. Today, most plants won’t hire you as an operator unless you have five years experience or an associate degree. Most kids don’t realize they can come here and get an associates degree and start off making $60,000 to $80,000 a year.”

Benjamin Stove, PTEC department chair at Baton Rouge Community College echoes Louviere’s sentiments. “This is an excellent career for high school students who may not be on a path to a four-year university,” he says. “They may have never considered it as a career choice, but it’s a great job and a field that’s in high demand.”

Students who have a natural curiosity of how things work and a basic mechanical skill set usually thrive in this field. The Process Technology Associate of Applied Science degree courses begin with an introduction to process technology and basic equipment used in a plant. As students progress, deeper levels of information are explored as well as more specific aspects of work inside manufacturing facilities. “At SOWELA, during the final semester, we offer a plant internship,” says Louviere. “We have miniature plant reactors, a distillation system and wastewater system. Students learn to use radios to communicate within the unit on the console and outside at the unit itself. It’s a real world education.” BRCC also offers an internship and is the only college in Louisiana with a three-story glycol unit to offer actual experience within this sector. Benjamin Stove recommends interested students check to see if their high school has dual enrollment to take PTEC classes so they can progress right into their second semester at their chosen community or technical college.

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