Note: This is the first in complementary articles on advanced manufacturing. Read this article for specifics on training and degrees and look for another soon covering actual work and careers within the advanced manufacturing field.
Advanced manufacturing involves using modern day tools and automation to improve the efficiency and quality of traditional manufacturing. In Louisiana, there is double good news when it comes to a career in advanced manufacturing. First, there is a great need for skilled laborers within this industry and second, a variety of training opportunities are readily available at community and technical colleges across the state.
“One of the unique things about training for a career in advanced manufacturing is that you can earn a certificate and graduate the program or continue on to gain in-depth expertise,” says Stephanie Jackson, program support coordinator at Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC). “If you need to earn a living quickly, you can get basic training in sixteen weeks, or you can earn an associates degree in two years and even go on to transfer to a four-year university for a bachelor’s degree.”
“Twenty-five years ago the level of training for entry level manufacturing jobs was not as complex.” states Lamont Lackman, BPCC assistant professor and Program Director of Industrial Technology. “Today, more formal training is required to understand the nuances of automated products as well as aspects of safety and teamwork.”
The following is a breakdown of the different degrees available at BPCC. Most community and technical colleges in the state have similar programs. However, be sure to visit each college’s website for specific information regarding that individual school.
Technical Competency Area (TCA): This training can be completed in sixteen weeks and graduates enter the workforce most often as a machine operator, technician or quality control technician. Persons with this degree usually end up operating the equipment that produces the final product. TCA trainees typically start at $10-$14 an hour with full benefits for health and vacation.
Certificate of Technical Study (CTS): Completed in a year, CTS trainees graduate with a skill level allowing opportunities in such positions as a set-up technician, testing technician, change over technician, and programmable logic control technician. CTS graduates can make changes and adjustments to the equipment beyond the scope of a traditional operator and usually earn a starting salary of $13 – $18 with full benefits for health and vacation.
Associate Degree: With this two-year degree, graduates work on more sophisticated equipment and are skilled in electricity and electronics. They have the ability to design, modify, and troubleshoot complex mechatronic systems that are used to produce a wide variety of products. Graduates with an Associate Degree often earn a starting salary between $17 – $25 an hour with full benefits for health and vacation, and a clear pathway to advancement.
Most Louisiana community and technical colleges have agreements where credits earned can be transferred to many four-year universities. Students earning an Associate Degree can pursue a four-year college degree in such fields as industrial technology, automation and instrumentation, and engineering technology.
“Right now, the manufacturing industry needs skilled laborers not only in Louisiana, but also across the country,” says Stephanie Jackson. “There are more positions than there are people. At BPCC, we get calls from companies on a weekly basis wanting to hire our students. In fact, many of our students are working before they graduate.”
Looking for jobs in advanced manufacturing? Post your resume on Louisiana Job Connection today to find your next career.