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Nearly 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing their apprenticeship. Average starting salary is $60,000+ per year. What can Career & Technical Education do for you?

WHAT’S INSIDE THE ISSUE 8 Welcome 17 Apply Now for Arkansas 10 When It Comes to Skilled Workers, Future Scholarship Arkansas is Hiring 18 Tech Career Education 13 State Government Looks for Ways 20 Guide to Apprenticeship Programs to Grow Workforce 22 Be Pro Be Proud—More Than 14 Education and Training Are Key a Slogan, It’s an Attitude to Meeting Future Workforce Needs 23 ABC Arkansas Plans New 16 Department of Career Education Training Facility Provides Multiple Services 24 Advanced Manufacturing Gives to Students

16 Work Ethic, Loyalty Key to Long Professional Career


49 Tyson Foods Launches Training Schools Nationwide

62 Women Take Charge in Skilled Professions

THE TRADES 26 Agri-Timber 28 Allied Health Professional 30 Aviation Technology 34 CAD/CAM Drafter 36 Carpenter 38 CNC Operator 40 Computer Coder/Programmer 42 Diesel Technician 44 Electrician 4

Glimpse of Future, Today

46 Heavy Equipment Operator 48 HVACR Technician 50 Industrial Maintenance 52 Machinist 54 U.S. Military Careers in the Trades 56 Plumber 58 Tool & Die Maker 60 Welder



For Arkansans returning to college or thinking about it for the first time, we have an opportunity to shape the future we all want by investing now in the right skills, training and education.

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Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, a division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, is helping transform traditional workforce training to meet the needs of manufacturers in our state. That’s because new technology and industry innovations are transforming what a manufacturing job is. Today’s technology-based manufacturing operations require individuals with sharp technical and computer programming skills, which means a wider range of job opportunities and better pay are now available. And for Arkansas, it means the creation locally of a highly-skilled workforce to be reckoned with in the global marketplace. | | 501-682-1179


In a state where 700,000 people last year earned less than $21,000, we have thousands of jobs going unfilled that pay twice that and more. An economic developer said that a journeyman plumber could make $200,000 annually if he or she would live in McGhee. There are few if any plumbers in the county, so residents have to pay travel charges for plumbers from Pine Bluff. A construction association director said if a high school graduate were serious, presentable and able to pass a drug test, he could have them employed and enrolled in an apprenticeship program in Central Arkansas within 48 hours. In three years, that high school graduate could be making close to $50,000 a year. That is the message of BlueprintMagazine, an annual publication of Arkansas Times, 50,000 copies of which are being distributed to high school and community college students state-wide as well as through the Times. While a four-year degree works for many students, a large percentage of Arkansas high school graduates should instead be considering technical training and education that will lead to high paying jobs in two years or less. Students can often avoid the crippling student loan debt associated with four-year degrees and, in the case of apprenticeship programs, actually get paid to get trained. Blueprint’s mission is to identify high demand technical careers and help young Arkansans understand what those careers involve day to day, what training requirements exist and how much they can expect to make in both the short and long term. We have also identified the technical certifications, associate degrees and apprenticeship programs available to students across the state. In Germany and many other countries, there is prestige attached to people who can make and build things. Somehow we have lost that and every year in Arkansas thousands of kids drop out of four-year colleges with no skills, debt and an uncertain future. In Arkansas, we have a governor who understands the importance of technical education as well as a growing and improving technical education infrastructure. I would like to thank the Arkansas Community College Association, the Arkansas State Chamber Be Pro Be Proud program, Associated General Contractors of Arkansas, the Arkansas Construction Education Foundation and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission for stepping up to sponsor Blueprint. I’m also grateful to our advertisers, many of whom are using Blueprint to invite young readers to become their employees. Our editorial content will live on at the State Chamber’s, where students can learn more about technical career opportunities in Arkansas. Students interested in associate’s degree and technical certification opportunities can go to sponsored by the Arkansas Community College Association. And finally, we have provided a list of apprenticeship programs around the state and info on how to get started. If you or your student have questions about Blueprint or the opportunities we are describing, please feel free to email meArkansas at Manufacturing Solutions, a division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission,

Learn how paying jo Visit Ark

is helping transfor workforce training to meet the needs of manufacturers in our state. That’s because new technology and industry inn transforming what a manufacturing job is. Today’s technology-based manufacturing operations require individuals technical and computer programming skills, which means a wider range of job opportunities and better pay are no Leveritt, And for Arkansas, it means the creation locally ofAlan a highly-skilled workforce to be reckoned with in the global m

Your Future is

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Brooke Goosen joined the Air Force where she works in Aircraft Metals Technology.

When it comes to skilled workers, Arkansas is hiring BY DWAIN HEBDA


rooke Goosen loves to weld. The 25-year-old discovered welding in her high school’s career development center and was immediately hooked. “They had welding, drafting, automotive, those kind of classes,” Goosen said. “Welding was my passion. I absolutely loved it.”Goosen was fascinated by the craft and spent every minute she could in the shop. She made up her mind welding was what she wanted to do for a career while she was still a freshman. But even at that young age, she could look around and see her options to receive advanced training in her Michigan hometown were limited. And, there was another problem.“I honestly did not want to go to college,” she said. “School for me was not a fun time. My four years of high school, I always had a two-hour block of welding or a two-hour block of automotive. I didn’t want to actually do the whole schooling part; doing those extra classes was like a get-away for me to relax.” Goosen joined the Air Force after learning about the training opportunities that she could get. She landed



at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville last year. “I initially wanted to be Marines but there, you are a soldier first and then you can be a welder,” she said. “So, I went to the Army, went to the Air Force, went to the Coast Guard even. The Air Force has a job called Aircraft Metals Technology. You do welding and there’s machining. I didn’t know anything about machining, but welding? All right!” Since joining up, she’s performed repair work on military aircraft and even learned additional skills she didn’t even know existed in high school, skills that could translate to big bucks once she returns to civilian life. But that won’t happen for a while; she’s found a home in the service and plans to stay. “When I retire I will be 38, if I retire at 20 years. I’ll still be young,” she said. “I’m going to look for a management degree as my next step because I would personally like to open up a shop after the military. And the military pays for all of your education. It is so fantastic!” She flashes a broad grin at the thought of it.

“Everything worked out perfectly.” _________________________________________ Goosen’s story is what every construction and manufacturing executive, every labor union and every trade association, even Arkansas’ governor would love to see duplicated in high schools from one end of the state to the other. No matter where you look, the need for skilled workers is profound; literally thousands of jobs could be filled overnight if the right people were available, and thousands more jobs will come open over the next 10 years as people retire and companies expand. Randy Zook, president of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, pointed out Arkansas is not alone in this problem, which means recruiting workers from other states isn’t the answer. “This problem is national,” he said. “The big driving factor behind a lot of this is just demographics. You’ve got people retiring at the rate of about 10,000 per day,




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One of the challenges in creating the kind of skilled workers the state needs is the perception many people have of jobs like welding and plumbing as dirty, low-skill, difficult work for low pay. That’s just not accurate nationally, which translates to about 100 a day, Arkansas-wise. someone have that field experience. Quite frankly, it makes them better as they prog“Every day, 100 people retire and walk off from whatever career they’re involved in. ress in their career.” We’re not bringing along enough people prepared to step into, much less improve Thomas Dickinson, general manager of McGeorge Contracting in Little Rock, said upon, the jobs that those folks have been doing.” the key to developing the workforce of the future starts with educating young people One of the challenges in creating the kind of skilled workers the state needs is the on the opportunities available all over Arkansas, in order for them to make career perception many people have of jobs like welding and plumbing as dirty, low-skill, choices that match their interests. difficult work for low pay. That’s just not accurate, Zook said. “The number one problem, I think, is that in high school there are a lot of students “In manufacturing, as equipment becomes more sophisticated and more produc- who know they want to go to college and a lot of students who probably aren’t sure if tive, it requires a higher and higher level of employee to be able to operate it,” he they want to go,” he said. “Some people go to college and probably knew they didn’t said. “It’s more often computer-controlled or computer-monitored and the employee want to be there before they even got there.” is ensuring that it’s operating properly. But you’ve got to understand and have the “I don’t want anyone to tell anybody where to go; I want people to honestly make skills to do that.” their own choices. We want to make sure people know that if they decide college isn’t “That’s true in construction, too. They’re working in more sophisticated materials, the right option for them, there is a great living that can be made in the construction more demanding designs, more investment in productivity-enhancing tools and equip- industry.” ment. And, you’ve got to be skilled in the application and use of those things as well.” Dickinson is president of the Arkansas chapter of Associated General Contractors, Clay Gordon, vice president of Kinco Constructors in Little Rock, agreed, saying a group dedicated to supporting construction in the state. It, like other trade groups, the modern jobsite has been transformed by technology across the board. sees developing labor as a primary goal for the future. “For a lot of trades, it has changed drastically,” he said. “We have a large need for “We just joined up with Arkansas Construction Education Foundation (ACEF). They skilled carpenters and superintendents. For a superintendent nowadays, it’s heavily have schools all over the state and they license plumbers and electricians and other technology-based. They’re utilizing tablets and devices in the field.” skilled positions,” he said. “We just partnered with them last year and they do a great “Equipment operators are computer operators; more and more equipment is becom- job. They’re among the state leaders in producing licensed people for specific trades.” ing satellite-driven, GPS-operated. It’s a computer monitor inside that dozer or that “The other thing we do is the state chamber’s Be Pro Be Proud. They have an blade or something like that. So that’s changing and continues to change drastically.” 18-wheeler that has a center on it where they’ve got a plumbing station, a welding staTo get to those careers takes special training, Gordon said. And, those who are tion, a carpentry station. They take it to different high schools. I’m excited about that.” most successful in Kinco’s management roles are the ones who learned the construcZook said many similar programs by education, the state legislature and industry tion trade from the ground up and understand the things that still must be done by groups are just in the starting gate. He said for as difficult as the situation may look humans, not computers. now, it provides Arkansas with a golden opportunity for the future. “It’s still very, very important to have that background and that understanding,” “If we are one of the states that figures this out and acts constructively, positively, he said. “To progress to the level of superintendent on a jobsite, you need to have sooner than later, we will be one of the states that thrives in this economy over the a really good understanding of all the skilled trades. I think it’s very important that next 10 to 30 years,” he said. “If we fall short of that, we’ll pay a heavy price.” 12


From Governor Asa Hutchinson on down, there’s a priority on improving education, targeting areas of need and recruiting more young people to skilled professions. Elected officials and appointees are busy looking for ways to make that happen. “The governor has certainly identified this as an issue, and his challenge to us is how do we get it right? What’s the path forward?” said Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “What the governor has asked is for myself as the head of Economic Development to chair his Workforce Cabinet. We want it to be industry-focused and we want to have industry leading the charge on this.” Preston said the commission has already met to lay the groundwork for a plan that will identify the areas of most critical need and put together strategies for improving the labor pool in Arkansas. This process has included drawing in experts from Washington D.C. and other states to discuss how they’re addressing the issue. “We don’t want to say that there’s a state out there that does it 100 percent correct,” Preston said. “Instead, we want to take best practices of all the other states and learn what we can from that to really develop a cohesive workforce strategy here in Arkansas.” The goal of the workforce development plan, which Preston said the committee hopes to start communicating in early 2018, is not only about meeting today’s needs, but also how to make Arkansas more attractive to companies looking to relocate. “What that means in terms of economic development and recruiting is that when we sit down with a company and they say, ‘We need 1,000 skilled workers,’ or whatever it might be, we then have a program that we can point to and say ‘Well, we have this program and this is how we’re going to help you train the workforce that you need,’” he said. “Not only that, but take it a step further by implementing a curriculum into the technical schools and even into the high schools so that the next generation is being trained appropriately.” Sen. Jane English of North Little Rock said such a plan is long overdue. She said too often, schools, colleges, trade groups and the business community don’t communicate properly with young people to let them know what their career options are or how to prepare for it. “I call it the talent pipeline; I think about all of this as kindergarten through career rather than just K-12 or college,” she said. “In today’s world, kids need to be exposed to what the new world looks like much earlier than what we’ve done. We’ve waited until they’re juniors or seniors in high school. Well, it’s almost too late by that time.” English said as a result, American kids are behind other countries such as Germany when it comes to talking about and developing an interest in a skilled profession. “Kids are much more responsible for their future than we let our kids be here today, and they’re exposed to a lot more,” she said. “By the time they’re in fourth grade they begin to think about things that they like working on, including things with their hands.” English said it’s not that there aren’t great programs going on in Arkansas to develop young people’s job skills, but that community colleges, high schools and other groups don’t have a good way to share their story to a larger audience. She’s pushing for a method to better coordiante efforts across the board. “We’ve got K-12, we’ve got boards and commissions over all these different programs. I know career and technical education has done tremendous work and there’s great stuff going on at secondary schools across the state,” she said. “But there is no one central thing up here that says—talent pipeline, how are we developing it? How do we use these resources to be able to get to where we want to be? There are good things happening in the state but nobody knows about them. “The reality is we can’t continue like this. I mean, we’ve got 60,000 jobs here in the state that can’t be filled. We have 700,000 people in this state that make less than $21,000 a year. We need to be working on how do we get people into those jobs.”










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Cody Reed trains at the Arkansas Construction Education Foundation.

Education and training key to meeting future workforce needs BY DWAIN HEBDA


he first step toward any skilled job is getting the right training. In Arkansas, there are a couple of different ways you can go about this, depending on the job you want.

TWO-YEAR COLLEGES Four-year colleges and universities aren’t the only version of post-secondary education in Arkansas, there’s also a wide variety of two-year schools students can take advantage of to learn a certain skill or technology that’s in demand. “A lot of people might look at a two-year post-secondary institution as an academic institution, but we’re an educator. We are in the educating business first,” said Bill Stovall III, executive director of Arkansas Community Colleges. Arkansas has 22 two-year colleges, which operate 30 additional locations called satellite campuses. Arkansas Community Colleges (ACC) is a partner with two major workforce training programs. The Arkansas Apprenticeship Pathway Initiative provides apprenticeship training at Arkansas State University’s Mountain Home and Newport campuses, National Park College in Hot Springs and South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado. The other program, Arkansas Sector Partnership, can be found at 12 community colleges in Arkansas and helps individuals who have been laid off from one company gain employment with another by providing a variety of services including job retraining. “Community colleges are integrated into the community, they are on the ground, usually involved in economic development discussions,” Stovall said. Being dialed into the local community as they are, community colleges are in a unique position to tailor their programs to what local industry and manufacturers are looking for. This partnership also creates the opportunity for internships and part-time jobs for two-year college students while they are getting their education. Stovall said as skilled careers become more technologically advanced, the entry requirements for workers are going to continue to increase. He cited one forecast that



predicted 65 percent of all jobs will require some kind of post-secondary credential by 2025. “I still hear people say, ‘Not everyone has to go to college,’” he said. “Well, it’s all college, whether it’s a certificate of proficiency or non-credit or whatever it is. We need to be prepared for those students who want to come to two-year colleges to be able to support their pursuits academically or technically or whatever it might be that empowers them.” TECHNICAL INSTITUTES Another educational option is the technical institute, of which Arkansas has one, Northwest Technical Institute in Rogers. The school delivers a low-cost, high-quality option for students and companies looking to develop the labor skills of the future. “Our primary role is to provide educational programming for students of all ages who desire industrial and mechanical training or retraining for the modern workplace,” said Dr. Blake Robertson, president. A technical institute’s curriculum focuses entirely on a given subject, such as welding, nursing or industrial maintenance. A student is not required to take general courses, which is why it generally takes about half as long to complete most diploma programs. NTI also provides technical coursework for interested high school students in grades 10 through 12 from 17 high schools in Washington and Benton counties. “We ask students to ‘Rethink Education’ in their skills training through our innovative programs,” Robertson said. “NTI provides excellent opportunities for students to meet their career objectives.” APPRENTICESHIPS For some skilled careers, an apprenticeship is the preferred way to go. An apprenticeship is an educational program that combines classroom instruction with on-thejob training. Apprenticeships can last four or five years, depending on where you train.

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While it’s possible for people to seek out apprenticeships on their own, what normally happens is a person is hired on by a firm—let’s say a plumbing company—and their employer pays for them to attend apprentice school. “Your first-year guy comes in and he’s green. A lot of employers like to hire them like that,” said Kathy Fulks, executive director for Arkansas Construction Education Foundation, which operates apprenticeship programs at locations statewide. “They like to train them not only in the job but also the company culture. Then they progress upward. The further along they go the more skillsets they get, their knowledge increases.” These new hires learn under experienced craftspeople called journeymen while on the job and attend class to further improve their skills. This usually means one or two nights a week, for four years. “You might spend a night in class learning the formula for this simple offset,” said Don Havens, training director for Local 155 Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship Training of Arkansas. “Next night you come in and there’s a refresher and then you go out in the shop and you have to build it.” “It’s not pass/fail; you’re going to make mistakes. That’s what we want you to do, so you can see why it failed. That’s the learning experience.” An unskilled beginner or apprentice starts out earning much less than their experienced co-workers, but usually have the opportunity to earn pay increases. Havens said in their program, excelling in the classroom and on the job means regular bumps in pay. “Your pay is incremental,” he said. “At six months, with a satisfactory job performance while in school, you’ll get a five percent raise. So over five years you get a five percent raise every six months. “You’ll start at about 55 percent of journeyman wage, which here in Little Rock is about $26 an hour, but you’re not limited to that. An employer can pay you more. In the fabrication shop in El Dorado, a lot of my apprentices down there are making over $30. Same with the nuclear plant [in Russellville]. If you go in as a welder up there and do satisfactory work, they’ll pay you over $30 an hour, too.” When apprentices complete their training, they are prepared to take any licensing tests that the industry or their employer may require. In plumbing and electrical work, the two skilled careers where an apprenticeship is required by state law, this means taking a journeyman’s test. A journeyman electrician or plumber can work on more complicated jobs without supervision. After a period as a journeyman, craftspeople can test for a Masters license, the highest credential you can get. “Being a welder isn’t just a welder anymore,” Fulks said. “Being a welder can get you around the world. My brother is a welder. He travels the world on somebody else’s dime.” 479.986.4000  NWACC1   @nwacc

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WORK ETHIC, LOYALTY KEY TO LONG PROFESSIONAL CAREER Skills training may be key to landing a job, but building a satisfying career in any profession takes other fundamental qualities. That’s the message for young people entering the workforce from one Little Rock employment expert. “If I were talking to a group of high schoolers, the one thing I would tell them is that it’s not up to an employer to get you to ‘that place,’ it’s up to you to want to get to that place, to move into other positions, to grow within an organization,” said Kevin Fair, chief operating officer for ASAP Personnel Services. Fair has been in the staffing business for more than 20 years and in that time, he’s seen a lot of things come and go. The fundamental ingredient for building a meaningful career, however, hasn’t changed since the day he started. “Someone once asked me what my ‘whys’ in life are,” he said. “Meaning, why do I get up and do what I do every single day. If you know early what your ‘whys’ are, then the ‘how’ will come to you. It’ll fall in place for you.” The “how” can very well be a career in the skilled professions, Fair said, but only if a person is willing to work hard to prepare themselves. “I have clients that do welding. They can go to Pulaski Tech and get a welding certificate after two years and that person’s going to be making $11 or 12.50 an hour,” he said. “Those people coming out of an apprenticeship program have invested five years working as a laborer, getting to know this trade and going through five years of apprenticeship training. That person’s going to be making $40,000 a year.” A second component of success that many younger workers miss is loyalty, particularly in skilled professions where employers invest time and money for training. Fair said he’s got plenty of examples of people whose company loyalty— and a good eye for advancement opportunity­­—paid off in the long run. “Our largest client is a food manufacturer here in town,” he said. “We’ve been staffing them for years. We have people at multiple levels of management that have been out there for a long time, whether it’s line leads, production supervisors, night time supervisors, maintenance. We have people at all levels who we placed out there as temporaries and they’ve moved up because of their work ethic and the drive and the passion they have to succeed.” “Today, everyone’s looking for the next ‘best thing’ and the next best thing is not always another opportunity. It’s often that opportunity right in front of you. If you put in the work, you can have that next best thing right there.”



Charisse Childers, director of the State Department of Career Education.

DEPARTMENT OF CAREER EDUCATION PROVIDES MULTIPLE SERVICES TO STUDENTS Helping more students discover a skilled career path, and receive the training they need for the job they want, is the goal of the State Department of Career Education. Charisse Childers, director of the department, said the office works to achieve this in several ways. “In the Office of Skills Development, we focus on several things,” she said. “We try to expose students to career opportunities through a class—Career Ready 101 ­—as early as seventh or eighth grade. That gives them a career exploration opportunity.” “From there, we want to move them into learning more about careers by doing some plant tours, bringing in guest speakers, et cetera, and we do that in our classrooms.” The department also provides programs and training opportunities at the high school level, which are delivered in many cases by 38 careers coaches spread out across the state. “Career coaches are housed on two-year college campuses,” Childers said. “They’re funded through our agency and through school districts, and they go out to the school districts and work with the students around the state.” Career counselors are divided into service areas and serve the high schools within that geographic boundary. Some of the roles that career coaches play include career counseling, mentoring and academic advisement and assistance. “We do some academic tutoring, we do career counseling, we do college preparation,” Childers said. “Some of our programs have ACT academies so they help those students increase their ACT scores through training and practice tests. “We also do career cluster camps, one-day career exploration camps to give the students hands-on activities and help them learn about careers.” Childers said the career coaches are viewed as partners by school guidance counselors, most of whom are happy to have help informing students about skilled professions and career options. “In Arkansas, a guidance counselor can serve as many as 450 students,” she said. “You can only imagine that a guidance counselor, along with all of their other duties, does not have time to spend talking to students about careers. We work with them to help give out this information.” Career coaches don’t exist for every high school and money is tight to pay for the ones that do exist. That’s why Childers is encouraged to see local industry getting involved to expand the department’s efforts, thus helping make limited dollars go father. “We’re seeing companies start up internship programs and apprenticeship programs and helping finance equipment and buildings,” she said. “That’s been the most encouraging thing, that they are recognizing that we are here to help them and we want to make sure they have the employees they need.”


When it comes to goals, Ashley Valentine is one determined young woman. After working a string of jobs after high school, the 27-year-old from Paris, was determined to go to college. “It’s kinda funny; I’m going to have my 10-year class reunion next year, so I set a goal last year,” she said. “I hadn’t really decided where I was going to go or what I was going for.” Enrolling at the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, she started working two jobs to help pay for things as she went. She also took the time to research available grants and scholarships, applying for as many as she could. “I’d just been paying out of pocket and working two jobs and trying my best to do online classes,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to get any help at all.” Her efforts paid off in the form of the Arkansas Future Grant offered through the state to help students in certain courses of study, a few of which at UA PTC include drafting and design, manufacturing systems, electrical systems and construction management technology. The ArFuture grant is the newest of the state’s grant programs and is open to students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) or regional high-demand areas of study. The grant covers tuition and fees for qualifying certificate and Associate degree programs at Arkansas’ public institutions. Being a grant, the award does not have to be paid back, so long as the recipient meets certain requirements, including: • Receive monthly mentoring from a mentor from an organization determined by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education; • Complete at least 15 hours of community service each semester the student receives a grant; and • Reside in the state for three consecutive years, and be employed beginning within six months after receiving an associate degree or a certification. “My family’s telling me, you’re single, you have two jobs, you’re not going to get any help. And I was like whatever, I’m still going to apply,” said Valentine who now studies nursing at UA PTC. “I’m pretty thrilled about it because it’s going to save me quite a bit of money.” Deadline to apply for the ArFuture Grant is Jan. 5, for the Spring 2018 term. For more information, visit uaptc. edu/arkansasfuture or

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Tech Career Education Guide for Community Colleges and Technical Institutes



































































































































Guide to Apprenticeship Programs for Technical Careers



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Be Pro Be Proud—more than a slogan,it’s an attitude BY DWAIN HEBDA


s the custom 18-wheeler rolls down the highway, heads turn in traffic lanes it in these careers. on both sides. It’s hard not to notice the striking red and black paint job, “If you go to any manufacturing facility, any construction site or truck driving or the gleaming chrome as the sleek rig glides from one place to the next. school­­—those places don’t look the same,” Parker said. “Go to Caterpillar’s floor. It’s Plastered on the side, in letters big and bold, the truck practically shouts at you: Be short sleeves and khakis.—People are monitoring computers and they’re managing Pro Be Proud. millions of dollars’ worth of equipment.” It’s a truck designed to make an entrance, a statement. As the most visible show“We talk about what the environments are and we talk about what the income piece of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce’s Be Pro Be Proud initiative, the truck potential is and we talk about the kinds of responsibilities you have. And then we is an in-your-face announcement that skilled labor builds Arkansas while offering talk about where those opportunities are.” people a great way to make a living. The state chamber of commerce estimates there are currently 60,000 unfilled, “We took that premise, we took the idea, that we wanted to change people’s per- highly-skilled positions in Arkansas. Be Pro Be Proud is the organization’s answer, ceptions about these [career] opportunities,” said Andrew Parker who heads up the an aggressive attempt to inspire a whole new generation of craftsmen and women program at the state chamber. “There’s a lot of money being left on the table. There’s to a skilled career. Parker said one thing that makes the initiative different is that it’s a lot of possibilities for starting a new job and starting a new business and being your designed to speak directly to young people. own boss and hiring people. The next generation of JB Hunt is ready, but we need to “You’ve got to take it to the students,” he said. “So many times, people still want to help them understand that these are the kinds of opportunities that icons are built on.” have the same conversation with the same policymakers and the same bureaucrats. Parker is passionate about this subject, so much so that when he starts to talk about Talk about the problem, talk about the problem. We’ve been doing that for decades. how skilled professions have been marginalized and talked down to his tone mutates You’ve got to take real facts and show the students and show their parents, this is it. into something that’s a little ticked off. If you like doing this stuff and you have any sense, there is no limit to what you can “Everybody’s been told you’ve got to go to college to be successful. I was told that. accomplish.” You were told that. It’s just not true,” he said. “It fulfills a business model and I’m not Parker said that doesn’t just apply to craftspeople who work for someone else; saying it’s a bad thing. But it isn’t for everybody.” skilled professionals with a head on their shoulders can be highly successful going into “There’s no reason in the world that [four-year college] should be the only thing business for themselves. The success stories are numerous and speak for themselves. that people should aspire to do. The American dream is what? Being successful and “There’s a kid in Northwest Arkansas, maybe he’s in his 20s. He’s a motorhead, living your life how you want. If you want to make a fortune, you can make a fortune. started a roadside diesel tech service and he’s wiping out the competition,” Parker said. Some of the smartest business people in the world are not rocket scientists.” “I met a 32-year-old who has his own welding company in Brinkley. In Monroe County, The Be Pro Be Proud semi is a rolling representative of everything that the modern one of the most impoverished counties in Arkansas, he charges $85 an hour. Works skilled worker is, does and can accomplish. At dozens of stops in high schools, com- a 40-hour week by Wednesday. Owns his own home, owns his own vehicle, owns his munity colleges and events, the gleaming rig unfolds into a mobile exhibit of work own company truck, owns his own equipment and is just racking it up.” stations for welding, plumbing, electrical work and more. Through multimedia dis“Be Pro Be Proud is about creating more people who are doing these things, who plays and interactive exhibits, visitors are treated to a taste of what it takes to make go against the grain. And they are successful doing it.” 22



North Little Rock-based Associated Builders & Contractors of Arkansas is developing a new performance lab education facility. Last summer, the organization purchased a former restaurant, made up of two buildings and totaling more than 12,000 square feet, and expects to complete renovations in time for the 2018-2019 school year. “We’re going to have plumbing, electrical, HVAC and masonry out here,” said Bill Roachell, ABC chapter president. “But we’re also going to have what we call ‘task specific’ training. If we have an ABC member company that comes to us and says their employees really need help in something, we can set them up with specialized training.” Roachell expects the center to also play a central role in ABC’s outreach efforts to local schools, educating students on skilled careers and even giving them some hands-on education. “Other ABC chapters actually have kids from local high schools bussed into their facility,” he said. “They’re there for three hours for class and they go over the basics of construction. It gives introduction to hand tools, power tools and the necessary math skills that our folks use out in the field.” “When those kids graduate, if they decide they want to go into construction they have a leg up with the stuff they’re going to be able to do.” ABC is a professional organization made up of commercial builders, statewide. Unlike residential builders which build houses, commercial builders deal with projects where people go to work, such as factories, shopping malls, hospitals and other buildings. ABC works to support its members by addressing challenges in the Arkansas construction market, of which labor force is a major concern. The organization also received accreditation by the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER), a leading construction education standard, and last August welcomed its first class of electrical apprentices. Roachell said the new facility is the association’s most ambitious step yet on the issue of workforce development. “I spoke at Bryant High School last month and some of those kids were like, ‘Man, I didn’t know, you could make that much in construction,’” he said. “We have a bad perception problem out there, you know, people think if you’re not very good in school you go into construction. Well, that’s not accurate.” “There’s many different levels of construction that folks can go into and have a great career, and be able to provide for their family. We’ve got to make sure that we as an association let them know what opportunities are out there.”


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hen most people think of manufacturing plants, they think of dark, dirty, loud spaces and rows upon rows of workers performing jobs that require hours of repetitive, monotonous work. Not exactly the kind of place you’d want to spend eight hours, let alone a 25-year career. But imagine walking into a large, well-lit, air-conditioned space where mechanical arms spin through the air and sparks from robotic welders fly. Trained technicians man the controls, keeping everything on pace and running smoothly as most everything, from processing raw materials to packing the finished product, is handled by machines. If you think that’s a scene from a sci-fi movie or that such technology only exists in other parts of the country, think again. The factories of the future —what the industry calls advanced manufacturing – operate every day in Arkansas. “When you get into it, there’s a lot of jobs that you don’t have to put a lot of physical effort into,” said Scott Sparks, division director of existing business resources with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “It’s a lot of automation, a lot of technology, it’s understanding and reading the dials and gauges.” “Your tools used to be a wrench and a boxcutter; now there’s computers, computer screens and automated controllers.” Advanced manufacturing is a concept that has been gaining ground in the manufacturing world for some time now and it has made a night-and-day difference in the work environment of hundreds of Arkansas employees. Just a few examples include: • Pace Industries in Harrison, which manufactures molded aluminum components for automobiles, motorcycles and gas grills among other products. Molds used to have to be handled manually and the products finished by hand to smooth rough edges or polish it up. “Nowadays, instead of getting your grinder and your file out, it’s all CNC-automated,” Sparks said. “They’ve got tooling to where when that piece goes in, equipment will finish all that stuff up. The trimming, the cleaning, the polishing and buffing; all that stuff’s done in an automated fashion now.



At the Georgia Pacific plant in Crossett, which makes toilet tissue, things are about as far from the old version of a paper products factory as you can get. Workers scan trees out in the field with handheld devices that tell them the exact yield of each log. When that wood comes into the plant, it’s debarked, chipped and digested, then sprayed onto a conveyor belt to make toilet paper “logs” that are cut to the desired size and packaged. “I don’t think anybody touches anything during the entire processing cycle,” Sparks said. “It’s clean, it’s dust-free, it’s quiet, it’s air-conditioned. It is anything but what a paper mill used to be.” Hino Motors in Marion, produces axles, suspension components and engine parts for Toyota’s Tundra and Sequoia and Hino truck models. The 510,000-squarefoot manufacturing facility employs the latest in robotic welding equipment during production. “[Hino] is one of the neatest places to go see robotic welding in action,” Sparks said. “Hino Motors has got an excellent welding shop. Employees operate four and five pieces of equipment at the same time, and are skilled in knowing what to do and how to do it.”

As technology has continued to develop, workers are needed who understand both electronic and mechanical processes. One relatively new course of study that is very useful in the field of advanced manufacturing is called mechatronics. Instead of focusing on just one skill, mechatronics teaches an understanding of both the mechanical and electrical/electronic systems of these sophisticated machines. “[Mechatronics] is a combination of about half a dozen disciplines,” Sparks said. “It teaches hydraulics, pneumatics and actual wrench turning. You might look at it as applied STEM. Mechatronics is a broad brush that covers probably 75 or 80 percent of the most highly sought-after skills in a manufacturing plant as far as maintenance and daily operations, how you fix things, how you adjust things.” “Mechatronics is probably one of the most useful curriculums that you can get into, because it applies to just about anything, and its doesn’t limit you to just one company or technology. It opens up a lot of doors.”

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After a bumpy few years which saw some operators scaling back their operations, agri-timber is back in a big way in Arkansas. Since 2015, investment is up, demand is running high and the need for workers is at near-all time high levels. For people with the right skills and a good work ethic, the agri-timber industry provides a solid career choice. WHAT DOES AN AGRI-TIMBER WORKER DO? Agri-timber involves the management of forest resources, harvesting of trees in an environmentally responsible manner and processing the wood into a variety of products that consumers and other industries rely on every day. These final products range from lumber for the construction industry to paper products to processed building products such as plywood and veneers. The types of careers available in this field are just as varied as the products. Many people assume logging is an industry comprised entirely of unskilled, general laborers, and these positions do exist. But a growing number of positions require skilled operators and a grasp of technology, such as: Logging equipment operators • Use tree harvesters to fell trees, shear off limbs and cut trees into desired lengths. • Drive tractors and operate machines called skidders or forwarders, which drag logs to a loading area. Log graders and scalers • Inspect logs for defects and measure the logs to determine their volume. • Estimate the value of logs or pulpwood. • Often use hand-held data collection devices to track forest and specimen data. 26


Diesel Techs • As described previously, diesel engines power many industrial vehicles and machines. • Diesel engines are increasingly sophisticated with on-board electronics and telematics. • Skilled diesel techs are required to keep such machines running at peak efficiency. Just like any other manufacturing facility, sawmills and paper/pulp mills are dependent on a variety of skilled professionals too, a few of which include: Machine operators • Computer programmers/coders • Electricians • Plumbers • Industrial maintenance workers WHAT’S NEW? Advanced manufacturing Sawmills and paper/pulp mills have a long-standing reputation for being hot, smelly and unpleasant places to work. However, many of today’s mills rely on advanced manufacturing techniques which harness the power of technology and automation to process raw timber. This results in a cleaner, safer and more comfortable workplace, greater yield and efficiency and more responsible handling of waste products.

JOB GROWTH AND OPPORTUNITY Since 2015, lumber, paper and specialty products companies in this sector have invested more than $2 billion in 29 projects across 17 locations in Arkansas. These investments have improved working conditions, enhanced machinery and advanced manufacturing and in some cases built entirely new processing facilities. WHERE DO AGRI-TIMBER PROFESSIONALS WORK? Generally speaking, logging crews spend their time outdoors in the woods working in all types of weather. Factories and processing plants tend to be located within a reasonable distance of where the trees are harvested to help contain logistical costs. There are nearly 19 million acres of timber land in Arkansas, according to the latest Arkansas Forest Products Industry report. That document also reported 46 Arkansas counties had forest land over at least 50 percent of their area. Arkansas’ timber processing plants are scattered throughout the state, with many of them clustered in the southwest corner extending from Fort Smith diagonally to Arkansas City on the Mississippi River and to the Louisiana and Texas state lines.

WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? Overall, nearly 70,000 Arkansans are directly or indirectly employed by the timber industry. There were 1,230 logging equipment operators in Arkansas in 2014 and that number is expected to grow six percent by 2024, well ahead of the national average. There were 220 log graders/scalers in the state in 2014 and that job is expected to grow four percent, while the nation as a whole is expected to lose jobs in this area. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Logging Equipment Operators • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $23,100 annually / $11.11 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $39,420 annually / $18.95 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%) — $61,520 annually / $29.58 per hour Log Graders/Scalers • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $25,090 annually / $12.06 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $37,430 annually / $17.99 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%) — $51,020 annually / $24.53 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Communication skills • Must communicate with other crew members to perform work efficiently and safely. • Must be able to work as part of a team. Computer skills • Able to operate and adjust digitally-controlled factory equipment or handheld devices. Decision making skills • Must make quick, intelligent decisions when hazards arise. Detail oriented • Must watch gauges, dials and other indicators to determine if equipment and tools are working properly. Physical strength/stamina • Need to be able to perform laborious tasks repeatedly. • Must be able to handle heavy equipment.

HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? • A high school diploma is all that’s required for most logging jobs. • Most industry-specific training comes on the job. • Some community colleges offer associate’s degrees or certificates in forest technology . • A few community colleges offer education programs for logging equipment operators. • Many state forestry or logging associations provide training sessions for logging equipment operators. • Training often takes place in the field, where trainees can practice various logging techniques and use particular equipment. • Logging companies and trade associations may also offer training programs for workers who operate large, expensive machinery and equipment. • Such programs often culminate in a staterecognized safety certificate from the logging company. CNC OPERATOR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS: The following is a sample of some of the CNC operator training programs in Arkansas. For more training options, please visit University of Arkansas at Monticello McGehee, 870-460-1026, North Arkansas College, 870-743-3000,

JUSTIN WHITBEY Age: 24 Hometown: Clinton Education: High school diploma Job: Right of Way Foreman, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Inc. Snapshot: My family was in the logging business. I helped restore power to 15,000 customers after 2013 ice storm WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL IN A TYPICAL DAY? Right of way means we clear the power lines out of any tree hazards. Clear them about 15 feet back on both sides of the line. I work with the heavy equipment side of it. WHAT KIND OF EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE ON THE JOB? We work with Kershaw Skytrim and then we have mowing units. We have a tractor with a heavy-duty Bush Hog on the back of it, and we have a skid steer with a mulching head on the front of it. ARE YOU IN CHARGE OF OTHERS? Yes, I have a crew of four people who run the equipment. I’ll discuss with the crew any hazards and guide them and help them get in and out of places, and let them know what they’re supposed to do, where they’re supposed to go. [Leading people is] something I worked up to; I started off running one of the pieces of equipment. I grew up around these machines. IS THERE ANY SPECIAL TRAINING YOU’VE COMPLETED THROUGH THE COMPANY? Safety training; we have a CPR and first aid class that we do. We have a safety individual that comes up once a month and gives classes on everything from how to remove a hazardous limb to special knot-tying classes for knots that won’t come undone. WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A NEW EMPLOYEE? The main thing would be somebody who’s willing to learn, ready to work and have some kind of knowledge or skills— grew up maybe cutting firewood or something. But mainly, not afraid to work and ready to learn. We can teach them everything else.

BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 27

Did you ever notice how many people there are working in a hospital, clinic or even the office of your family doctor? The fact is, it takes many trained people working together to deliver health care in the United States and only a fraction of them have ever set foot inside nursing or medical school. If you have an interest in the medical field, but don’t see yourself spending the time and money to become a doctor or nurse, there’s a job waiting in the allied health field that has your name on it. WHAT DOES AN ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL DO? Allied health is a broad category of careers within the health care field other than physicians, dentists and nurses. The number, variety and range of these jobs is vast—in fact, some estimates say that up to 60 percent of all jobs in the health care field are classified as allied health professions. Many of these positions do not require a four-year degree, allowing people to start their career quickly. In the most general definition, allied health professionals play a role in delivering health or related services pertaining to the diagnosis, evaluation and prevention of diseases and disorders. In other words, allied health professionals are the support staff at the doctor or dentist’s right hand, they work in the pharmacy, the medical lab or the rehabilitation room and they are the personnel trained to operate diagnostic medical equipment. WHY SUCH HIGH DEMAND? The high demand for allied health jobs is part of the overall growth of the health care industry. Some factors affecting the industry’s growth include: • People are living longer, thanks to advancements in medicine, technology and better understanding 28


of healthy habits. The increase of certain chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity which have more complications and require more care. Gerontology (senior citizen care) is exploding with the aging of the Baby Boomers, a huge segment of the population.

WHAT ARE SOME ALLIED HEALTH JOBS? There are more than 100 careers that fall under the general heading of allied health, with more being added all the time. With a job pool that large, it’s impossible to go into a detailed description of every one of them. However, the following examples should give you a better understanding of the kinds of jobs that fall into this category. The website compiled a list of the fastest growing allied health care jobs in the United States. Included in that listing were: Medical Assistants perform clinical and administrative duties at doctors’ offices, surgeons, chiropractors, and other medical specialists. • Typical job duties: Answering phones, greeting patients, maintaining medical records, scheduling patient appointments, setting up laboratory tests and handling patient billing.

Education: Generally includes a certification or associates degree that takes 1 to 2 years to complete. • Growth: There were 2,700 medical assistant jobs in Arkansas in 2014; jobs are expected to grow 27 percent by 2024. • Pay: In Arkansas, medical assistant pay scale is between $21,000 to about $39,000. Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians help doctors diagnose and treat heart and vascular problems. • Typical job duties: Prepare patients for heart procedures such as balloon angioplasties, cardiac catheterizations and even open-heart surgery. They monitor heart rate and blood pressure and notify doctors after detecting abnormalities. • Education: Most earn at least an associate’s degree at a community college; others complete a four-year degree. • Growth: There were 490 cardiovascular technologist/technician jobs in Arkansas in 2014; jobs are expected to grow 22 percent by 2024. • Pay: In Arkansas, cardiovascular technologist/ technician pay scale is between $22,400 to about $64,600.

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WHERE DO ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WORK? Most allied health professionals work in a medical setting such as a doctor’s office, dental practice, clinic or hospital. Some may be mobile, bringing therapies to homebound patients or performing other duties. Some allied health jobs require a measure of technical expertise, working with sensitive (and expensive) medical equipment. Medical sonographers and MRI technicians are just two examples of these kinds of jobs. Many allied health jobs are an extension of the physician and frequently have close contact with patients on an appointment. A phlebotomist, for instance, is an in-demand allied health professional whose job entails drawing blood and preparing it for labwork. A dental hygienist examines patients, cleans teeth and provides consults with patients on how to keep a healthy smile. Not all allied health professionals act as front-line support for medical procedures. If drawing blood, dealing with sick people or being in a surgical unit isn’t your thing, there’s great demand for medical records personnel. These professionals maintain patient records and coordinate with insurance carriers for payment, among other tasks. Except for the fact that they work at a clinic or doctor’s office, their work isn’t much different than clerical tasks in any other office. For more information on these and other allied health professional jobs and to find training programs, visit

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Diagnostic Medical Sonographers utilize sophisticated, high-frequency sound wave technology to take internal images of the body. • Typical job duties: Operating ultrasound equipment, communicating and transmitting results to the physician. • Education: Medical sonographers generally hold an associate’s degree. • Growth: There were 390 medical sonographer jobs in Arkansas in 2014; jobs are expected to grow 27 percent by 2024. • Pay: In Arkansas, medical sonographer pay scale is between $44,000 to about $78,400. Respiratory Therapists assess, treat and assist patients with cardiopulmonary and other breathing problems. • Typical job duties: Assess, treat and assist patients; are responsible for overseeing respiratory therapy technicians, administering diagnostic tests and providing therapy. • Education: Respiratory therapists generally hold an associate’s degree. • Growth: There were 1,050 respiratory therapist jobs in Arkansas in 2014; jobs are expected to grow 11 percent by 2024. • Pay: In Arkansas, respiratory therapist pay scale is between about $34,000 to about $65,000. Surgical Technologist (also known as operating room technicians or surgical technicians) assist physicians performing surgical and other medical procedures. • Typical job duties: Prepare operating room, set up tools, sterilize surroundings and tools and prep patients. During surgery, they observe vital signs, review charts and assist team members as directed. • Education: Surgical technologists earn a post-secondary certificate through a hospital, community college or four-year institution. • Growth: There were 870 surgical technologist jobs in Arkansas in 2014; jobs are expected to grow 14 percent by 2024. • Pay: In Arkansas, surgical technologists pay scale is between about $28,000 to $56,300.

BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 29

Aviation companies come in all shapes and sizes, from crop dusters and private planes to corporate small jets to commercial airliners. Arkansas has a little bit of everything when it comes to this field, as it is home to aircraft manufacturing companies, airports and fixed-based operations. It’s a growing field in need of talented, skilled employees. WHAT DO AVIATION TECHNICIANS DO? Aviation technicians perform a wide variety of duties on private and commercial aircraft. The actual job duties vary depending on which area of the industry one chooses. Aircraft technicians may be divided into two basic categories: Airframe • Perform inspections of aircraft frames, mechanical components and electrical systems to locate wear, defects and other problems. • Read and apply documentation and repair manuals to determine standards and procedures. • Test aircraft functions using diagnostic equipment to ensure proper performance. • Repair or replace components using hand or power tools. • Keep records of repairs and maintenance being performed. • Technicians may specialize in a certain category of aircraft such as passenger jetliners, propeller-driven airplanes or helicopters. • Technicians may also focus on different systems, such as engines (also known as powerplant) or hydraulics. 30


Avionics • Specialize in aircraft electronics which includes a range of job types. • Responsible for all the electronics aboard an aircraft as well as the wiring that connects components to the electrical system. • Run cables, mount antennas and connect instruments for navigation and engine monitoring. • Install radios, autopilots and passenger entertainment systems. • Test onboard equipment to ensure it’s working properly and does not interfere with other electronic devices. • Maintain repair or maintenance records. WHAT’S NEW? Aircraft are sophisticated machines and there are a variety of mechanical and electronic systems that must be maintained in order for them to operate safely. Aircraft are subject to rules and regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a government department that oversees anything having to do with aviation in the United States. New safety rules and equipment regulations are introduced regularly, and backed up by inspections that a technician must

stay on top of. Like any other form of transportation, aircraft manufacturers are continually improving aircraft to make them safer, faster, more fuel efficient and more comfortable. Technicians must keep up with these changes, too. A technician’s work environment is generally inside climate-controlled hangars. Technicians have to exercise the usual caution using hand tools and the dangerous chemicals they sometimes come in contact with. Some specific types of businesses that employ aircraft technicians include: Fixed Base of Operations At most airports, private companies called Fixed Base of Operations (FBO) provide a number of services to smaller aircraft such as corporate jets and private planes. Aviation technicians provide maintenance services for aircraft using the FBO. Airlines Commercial airlines have a lot of planes they need to keep operational if they are going to stay on schedule and deliver their passengers safely. Aircraft and avionics technicians are a key element of their success. Shipping companies Not all airplanes deliver people; some deliver millions of pieces of freight and consumer mail or pack-

ages every day. Retailers relay on companies like FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service to deliver orders to their customers and these shipping companies rely on their planes to make that happen. Flying Services Flight schools, crop-dusting operations and air charter companies all need technicians to keep their machines in top shape and operating safely. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? Arkansas had just under 1,000 airframe jobs in 2014 and the field is expected grow eight percent by 2024. That’s well ahead of the national average, which is only expected to grow one percent. There were 120 avionics jobs in the state in 2014 and this field is also expected to grow by eight percent by 2024. This is also much faster growth than the national average which isn’t predicted to increase at all. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Airframe • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $37,480 annually/$18.02 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $49,420 annually/$23.76 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $65,240 annually/$31.36 per hour Avionics • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $30,730 annually/$14.77 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $49,490 annually/$23.80 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $71,840 annually/$34.54 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Technicians in both airframe and avionics benefit from the following skills: Equipment maintenance and repairs. • Planning and doing the basic maintenance on equipment. • Knowledge of and skill using hand and power tools to complete the work. • Repairing machines or systems using the right tools. Troubleshooting/quality control analysis. • Testing how well a product or service works. • Using diagnostic equipment and interpreting the readings or measurements. • Figuring out problems with equipment, machines, wiring or computer programs. Critical Thinking • Considering pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem. Complex Problem Solving • Noticing a problem and figuring out the best solution.

HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Aviation technicians typically have some training after high school, taken at a community college or specialized aviation technical school. Be sure to select a program that is FAA approved. At the completion of this training, technicians take an exam administered by the FAA to obtain certification in their chosen field. Technicians can also expect to take continuing education classes or attend seminars or training sessions to stay current on new parts, regulations, technology and flight systems. Once a technician receives an associate’s degree, they can opt to complete a four-year degree which opens up a number of other job opportunities and greater earning power. AVIATION EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the aviation technician training programs in Arkansas. Not all college programs offer training in all areas of aviation technology and mechanics. For a list of training programs, please visit Arkansas Northeastern College, Blytheville, 870-762-1020, Southern Arkansas University Tech, Camden (additional location in Texarkana), 870.574.4500, University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, North Little Rock, 501-812-2200, Arkansas State University Mid-South, West Memphis, 870-733-6722,

SHARON BALLARD Hometown: Blytheville Age: 30 Education: Technical certificate, Northeastern Arkansas College, Blytheville Job: Lab Assistant, Northwestern Arkansas College Snapshot: I am pursuing an associate’s degree in aviation maintenance. Long term goals include working for an airport. I am considering getting a pilot’s license one day. YOU WORK AS A LAB ASSISTANT AT THE SCHOOL, WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL? I keep the shop clean and make sure that the things that they’re working on—the engines and everything—are up and running and working so that the students who do come in are prepared to work on them. I have to keep the shop safe and manage objects for the federal people when they come in and check it out. I have to keep it up so the inspection gets approved. HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN WORKING ON AIRCRAFT? My father is a mechanic. Also, I own my own vehicle and owning a vehicle means a lot of maintenance. I’ve gotten to learn my vehicle by watching and working on it myself. I got interested in this because I’m interested in the car engine, and airplanes and cars are actually very similar. ARE THERE A LOT OF WOMEN GOING THROUGH THE AVIATION PROGRAM? In my class it was just me and one other. The next class, there’s two more. IS THAT INTIMIDATING FOR YOU? It was at first, but when I got into the workshop and I was doing better than the men I wasn’t intimidated at all. I was the intimidator! There were four guys all trying to get a bolt loose and I came over and just knock it off, I just awed the whole class. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE IN HIGH SCHOOL CONSIDERING THIS FIELD? Just take the opportunity. We do classroom work, but it’s mostly workshop hands-on work. You should never have a problem because you’re right there with your hands doing it and the instructors are great. As long as you’re at it every day and staying in school, it’s not as hard as you think.

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Find your career ASAP We have the connections throughout Arkansas to place you on the path to your technical career. If you are available and reliable we can get you started on the road to your future.  Both Charley and Kevin have been in the staffing industry

for over 50 years combined. We have offices throughout the state with limitless opportunities. We understand the challenges of finding your career, let us help you ASAP. 

For nearly 30 years, ASAP has had the privilege of delivering superior results and service to our clients on demand. We help find the right people with the right attitude and the right qualifications for your business.



ASAP Personnel Services Statewide Locations:

1004 Van Ronkle St., Ste. 1 1126-B Malvern Ave 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road Conway, AR 72032 Hot Springs, AR 71901 Little Rock, AR 501-358-6677  501-321-2727 501-537-2727   Coming Soon to Jonesboro and Rogers, Arkansas










Computer-aided design/computer aided manufacturing drafters create 2-D and 3-D drawings used to manufacture products. Drafters also design and make parts for use in a number of machines that are part of the manufacturing processes. WHAT DOES A CAD/CAM DRAFTER DO? Computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM) are two computer-aided technologies. Previously, drafters created technical drawings­—sometimes called schematics — by hand, a slow and tedious process. Starting in the 1980s, CAD/CAM programs have been used to make customized metal and plastic parts with computer controlled machining. The drafter (sometimes called a CAD operator) creates a technical drawing which contains all the dimensions for the part, much like a blueprint shows the dimensions of a house or building. The CAD file contains commands for a machine, such as a cutting tool or a lathe, to perform certain functions to produce the part. In addition to being faster than hand drawings and humanoperated cutting or milling machines, CAD systems can also produce parts much more accurately. These machines have such precise measurements, they are accurate to 1/1,000 of an inch, one-third the width of a human hair. WHAT’S NEW? CAD is used in the design, development and manufacture of all kinds of products. It is widely used to produce parts for machines, in the design of manufacturing tools and in designing residential and commercial buildings. CAD can also help simulate certain forces and stressors. For example, designers may want to test how a design would stand up against pressure or torque. A CAD system can produce a model that shows on-screen how well the design would hold up. CAD is especially important in microelectronics, providing lower development costs for newer, smaller and more powerful devices in a much shorter timeframe. Drafters also work with CAD to create BIM drawings. BIM stands for building information modeling and is widely used in construction. BIM produces highly-accurate digital models of buildings and machines. The system allows designers and engineers to see how different parts of their projects work together. WHERE DO CAD/CAM DRAFTERS WORK? A few types of drafters and the industries in which they work include: Architectural drafters • Draw architectural and structural features of buildings for construction projects. • May specialize in a type of building, such as residential or commercial. • May also specialize by the materials used, such as steel, wood or reinforced concrete. 34


Civil drafters • Work with engineering firms, highway construction firms or within city planning departments. • Prepare maps used in municipal construction projects such as highways and bridges. Electrical drafters • Prepare wiring diagrams that construction workers use to install and repair electrical equipment and wiring in power plants, residential and commercial buildings. • Employed by a wide range of companies including construction, electrical firms and manufacturers. Electronics drafters • Produce wiring diagrams for circuit boards. • Produce layout drawings used in manufacturing and in installing and repairing electronic devices and components. Mechanical drafters • Prepare layouts detailing a wide variety of machinery and mechanical tools and devices. • Mechanical drafters also sometimes create production molds. • Employed in a wide variety of manufacturing companies. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? All categories combined, drafters in Arkansas held about 1,000 jobs in 2014. The vast majority worked in an architectural office, engineering firm or manufac-

turing. Most drafters worked full time, spending the majority of their working hours in an indoor office setting. According to the U.S Department of Labor, projected job growth for drafters overall is expected to remain around seven percent through 2026, growing faster than the national average. Not all categories of drafters are expected to grow, some are expected to maintain at their current level. Therefore, it is to your advantage to earn additional certifications or learn additional skills, such as building information modeling (BIM) technologies, to stand out from other applicants. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Mechanical • Lower Range (bottom 10%)— $33,480 annuall /$16.10 per hour • Middle Range (median)— $47,700 annually/$22.93 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%)— $80,310 annually/$38.61 per hour Electronic/Electrical • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $26,880 annually/$12.92 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $55,080 annually/$26.48 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%) — $75,750 annually/$36.42 per hour

From the way we teach to the way you learn. It’s Hands On, Full On….

Civil/Architectural • Lower Range (bottom 10%)— $30,180 annually /$14.51 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $44,790 annually/$21.53 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%) — $65,360 annually/$31.42 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? CREATIVITY • The ability to translate plans and ideas into technical drawings. • Ability to “see” the project from just a description or plans. Detail oriented • Must pay close attention to detail so plans closely match specifications. Interpersonal skills • Must be able to communicate effectively. • Must work well with others. Math/technical skills • May be required to solve mathematical calculations involving angles, weights and costs. • Useful high school courses include math, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics and drafting. Time-management skills • Must be able to work efficiently to deliver work on time. • Must be able to work without direct supervision. HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Drafters generally need to complete a two-year associate’s degree from a community college. Drafters do not generally complete an apprenticeship like other trades do. Community colleges offer programs that lead to an associate of applied science in drafting or related degree. The

types of courses offered will vary by institution; some institutions may specialize in only one type of drafting. The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for drafters. ADDA certification shows you have invested extra time and effort into your craft and is sometimes required by your employer. It can also sometimes result in higher pay. Certifications are offered for several specialties, including architectural, civil and mechanical drafting. CAD/CAM DRAFTING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS: The following is a sample of some of the CAD/CAM training programs in Arkansas. For more options, please visit or ASU-Beebe, 501-882-3600, (also available at ASU campuses in Mountain Home and Newport). East Arkansas Community College, Forrest City, 870-633-4480, North Arkansas College, Harrison, 870743-3000, Northwest Arkansas Community College, Bentonville, 479-636-9222, nwacc. edu/web/nwacc/home. University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech, North Little Rock, 501-812-2200,

Our technical programs give you the skills you need to succeed. Whether it’s Aviation Maintenance, Machining, or another of our many certificate and degree programs, we have something to suit your needs. Need help paying for training? Contact our Financial Aid office about industry-supported scholarships available from some of the area’s top companies like Hino Motors Manufacturing and Bosch Tool Corporation.

University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, 501-977-2053, Arkansas Tech-Ozark, 866-225-2884, atu. edu/ozark.

2000 West Broadway | West Memphis, Arkansas 870.733.6722 | BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 35

Of all the skilled professions, carpentry is the oldest and arguably the most widely recognized. Popular home remodeling shows have brought new attention to the trade and further accentuated carpenters’ reputations. A skilled carpenter makes a positive, even life-changing impact on the people and quality of life in their community. WHAT DOES A CARPENTER DO? Carpenters construct, repair and install building frameworks, remodel and rehab existing buildings and perform the finishing work made from wood and other materials. Carpentry is a versatile occupation in the construction industry, with craftsmen and women generally proficient in a variety of tasks. Some carpenters are more specialized, such as those who insulate office buildings or install drywall or kitchen cabinets in homes. The following are examples of types of carpenters: Construction carpenters • Construct, install and repair structures and fixtures. • Work in wood, plywood and wallboard. • Use hand tools and power tools to complete their work. • Adhere to building and permitting guidelines and safety requirements. • Construct building frameworks such as walls, floors and doorframes. Rough carpenters • Build rough, temporary wooden structures, such as concrete forms and scaffolds. • May also build tunnels, bridges, or sewer supports. • They use hand tools identical to that of construction carpenters. • Build construction forms or molds. 36


Observe safety guidelines at all times. All carpenters use tools to cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass or drywall. Many employers require carpenters to supply their own tools. • Typical hand tools: hammers, saws, squares, levels, chisels and tape measures. • Typical power tools: sanders, circular saws, nail guns, drills and welding machines. • Carpenters also fasten materials using nails, screws, staples and adhesives. WHAT’S NEW? The carpenter trade can be traced back as far as biblical times, but on the modern jobsite, carpenters take advantage of a number of technological advancements. These new apps, products and handhelds allow carpenters to design and plan projects and perform work faster and with more precision. Cloud Computing/Apps Visit a construction site and you’ll see more iPhones and iPads than paper blueprints. Being skilled in the trades meaning knowing how to quickly store and retrieve plans, document and schematics, and that’s exactly what the cloud does for today’s carpenters and their clients. If you choose to go into business for yourself, you will find apps that help you keep everything straight from bidding new work to billing finished projects and everything in between.

BIM Building Information Modeling (BIM) is technology that allows architects, engineers, contractors other construction professionals create virtual plans that can be easily changed. BIM provides onboard tools for coordinating the many craftspeople who are scheduled to work on a building. Changes can be made easily in the building specs without having to lug around paper plans or waste a lot of time and manpower running back to the contractor’s office. It also provides a work structure for the tradesmen and women in their proper order and coordinates the delivery of materials such as lumber, concrete, roofing materials or drywall. Thermal Imaging A new generation of specially designed phones have the ability to take a thermal scan of a house or building, showing a craftsman exactly where heat is escaping and with it, wasted energy. Thermal imaging also gives builders a means of locating moisture to pinpoint water leaks, identifying electrical hotspots, structural defects, plumbing clogs and HVAC issues without tearing things apart.

WHERE DO CARPENTERS WORK? Carpenters work indoors and outdoors on many types of construction projects, from highways to kitchen remodels. Working outdoors subjects them to variable weather conditions and there are times when conditions are such that a carpenter cannot work at all. Most carpenters work full time, which may include working evenings and weekends. This includes selfemployed carpenters, particularly in the early stages of starting a business. Safety equipment such as boots, hardhats and harnesses when working high off the ground are all required when working with a general contractor or in an industrial setting. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? In 2014, there were just over 5,600 total carpentry jobs in Arkansas. The Department of Labor predicts the number of these jobs will grow 9 percent by 2024, faster than the national average. About a third of carpenters are self-employed and one in five works in residential construction. As with other construction jobs, carpenters are at the mercy of the economy; when a slowdown occurs, building projects are generally postponed or cancelled and workers get laid off. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $20,570 annually/$9.89 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $34,110 annually/$16.40 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $49,030 annually/$23.57 per hour Your actual earning depends on your experience, any specialties you might have and even what part of the state you live in. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Business skills • Self-employed carpenters must bid new jobs, track inventory and plan work assignments. Detail oriented • Make precise cuts, measurements and modifications. Dexterity • Hand-eye coordination is necessary to avoid injury or damaging materials with tools. Math skills • Basic math skills are used to calculate area, precisely cut material and determine the amount of material needed to complete the job. Physical strength/stamina • Tools and materials that can weigh up to 100 pounds. • Carpenters frequently stand, climb or bend for hours on the job. Problem-solving skills • Ability to modify building material and make adjustments onsite.

HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? A high school diploma is generally all that’s required to start a career in carpentry. High school courses in math, mechanical drawing and general technical training classes such as wood shop, where available, can be a helpful starting point. Carpenters typically learn their craft on the job and through apprenticeships. Individual businesses, unions and contractor associations may sponsor apprenticeship programs which can take two to four years to complete. Apprentices learn carpentry basics, blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements and safety and first aid practices. Apprentice carpenters learn by working with more experienced coworkers and through classroom training. An apprentice typically begins doing simpler tasks such as measuring and cutting wood, and works up to more complex jobs such as reading blueprints and building structures. There are also some community colleges that teach carpentry skills, which may or may not qualify as an apprenticeship. All carpenters must pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10- and 30-hour safety courses. CARPENTRY APPRENTICESHIP AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the carpentry education programs in Arkansas. Not all college courses in carpentry qualify as apprenticeships. For more training programs, please visit, and Arkansas Construction Education Foundation, Little Rock training center, 501-372-1590, Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute, Forrest City, 870-633-5411, North Arkansas College, Harrison, 870-743-3000, University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, North Little Rock, 501-812-2200, Nabholz Construction, Conway, 501-505-5800,

ANDREA SHEMPERT HOMETOWN: Osceola AGE: 22 EDUCATION: Certificate of proficiency, Construction Technology, Arkansas Northeastern College Job: Operational Clerk, Big River Steel, Osceola SNAPSHOT: I am certified in CPR, first aid, DOT, manifest signing, hazmat since joining Big River. My long term goal is to move into management. I’m expecting my second child in March WHAT GOT YOUR INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN THE TRADES? I got pregnant when I was 18, graduated while pregnant, and had my son. I just happened look in the mail one day and Big River sent this little packet to the house. I had heard of them and knew about the company and it didn’t seem like a bad deal. I watched them welding and I was like well, let’s just go for it. Let’s see what this is about. DID YOU TAKE TO IT RIGHT AWAY? I started classes and just being so hands-on, working outside, I just fell in love with it. It’s very mental, it’s something that’s not going to bore you because it changes constantly. WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR JOB TODAY? I’m an operational clerk. I take tank levels, I go out in the mill, I make sure that things get paid. Whenever we started up, I was able to go out there and help put up hand railings. I actually wired together some of the electrical devices that were going to be on equipment. I looked at drawings, I learned about what the lines do and I still learn about how we use acid in the ores and how we turn scrap into a shiny rolled up piece of steel. WERE YOU INTIMIDATED WALKING INTO THE PLANT FOR THE FIRST TIME? I didn’t get intimidated at all. If they can do it, I know that I can. A male figure does not intimidate me. Just because I’m short and small doesn’t mean that I can’t. My attitude is just to go and do it and if you can’t do it just get some help. It’s OK if you can’t do the whole thing. It just matters that you go out there and try.

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Think of all the machines that it takes to produce the things we use and enjoy every day. Have you ever wondered where the parts come from to create new machines or to repair or upgrade existing machines? That’s the role of CNC operators, specially-trained individuals who design and make precision parts that are used in all kinds of industries, and to help bring new manufacturing technology to life. WHAT DOES A CNC OPERATOR DO? CNC stands for computer numerical control and it refers to a category of machines that are used to precision-produce metal and plastic parts. A CNC operator is a specially trained technician who sets up and operates these machines to cut, shape and form metal and plastic materials or pieces. CNC operators are part of a category of jobs called machinists. A CNC operator’s job also includes studying blueprints or other instructions to determine equipment setup requirements. They conduct test runs of production equipment and make adjustments as necessary. CNC machines work from special designs produced by computer aided manufacturing (CAM) or computer aided design (CAD) systems. For this reason, CNC operators are sometimes cross-trained on CAD/CAM systems.

WHERE DO CNC OPERATORS WORK? Most CNC operators today work in jobs in manufacturing facilities producing fabricated metal products, plastics and rubber products, transportation equipment, primary metal and machinery. CNC is a cornerstone technology of advanced manufacturing, which is a much cleaner and safer form of manufacturing and provides a much more comfortable workspace. Employees of companies that use advanced manufacturing generally work in an indoor, climatecontrolled workplace. However, CNC operators must observe basic safety rules that may include wearing protective equipment. This equipment may include such things as safety glasses, earplugs and steel-toed boots. You may also have to wear a respirator to guard against fumes or dust, particularly when working with plastics.

WHAT’S NEW? Computer-controlled equipment represent a quantum leap forward in the industry, as these machines are able to cut, mill or shape parts much faster and with far more accuracy that parts that are created by hand. The technology works in much the same way as the software that powers 3-D printers in a lab. CNC technology is a relatively recent invention and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Machines can form and shape a part from multiple angles at once. Some have the ability to flip the component over during the machining process. CNC machines perform fully automated cuts or drill multiple holes with tremendous precision.

WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? According to the US Department of Labor, there were only 220 CNC operators in the entire state in 2014, which leaves a lot of room for growth. CNC operators are the latest generation of a long line of machine operators and setters that have evolved with changes in technology in manufacturing. As more companies adopt systems that considered “lean manufacturing,” CNC technology will continue to be an important part of production and the demand for skilled CNC operators is likely to remain strong. Experts predict the number of these jobs to grow anywhere from 15 to 29 percent by 2024. Most metal and plastic machine workers are employed full time. Overtime is common and because



many manufacturers run their machinery for extended periods, evening and weekend work is also common. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $29,750 annually/$14.30 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $43.580 annually/$20.95 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%) — $59,590 annually/$28.65 per hour With experience and expertise, workers can become candidates for more advanced positions, which usually include higher pay and more responsibilities. Experienced workers with good communication and analytical skills may move into supervisory positions. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Computer skills • Ability to use programmable devices, computers and robots on the factory floor. • Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips and software, including applications and programming. Mathematics • Knowledge of math, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics and their applications. Physical stamina/strength • Able to stand for long periods and perform repetitive work. • Strong enough to guide and load heavy and bulky parts and materials into machines. Design • Knowledge of design techniques, tools and principles involved in the production of precision techni-

cal plans, blueprints, drawings and models. Mechanical skills • Comfortable setting up and operating machinery. • Have a good understanding of how machines and their parts work. • Have a good grasp of various shop tools, how they work and how to maintain them. HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Machine operator trainees usually begin by watching and helping experienced workers on the job. Beginner job duties may include: • Supervised supply of materials • Starting and stopping the machines • Removing finished products Workers then advance to more difficult tasks such as: • Adjusting feed speeds • Changing cutting tools • Inspecting a finished product for defects Eventually, these workers develop the skills and experience to set up machines and perform a full range of tasks. CNC machine tool programmers typically need to complete courses beyond high school. CNC operators generally do not complete an apprenticeship like other trades.

Some operators are trained on basic machine operations and functions in a few months, while computercontrolled machine tool operators may need up to a year to become fully trained in their craft. Community colleges and other schools offer courses and certificate programs in operating metal and plastics machines that involve CNC programming. Related coursework that is helpful in this role includes: • Computer-aided design (CAD) • Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) Certification can be helpful for advancement. The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) offers certification in numerous metalworking specializations.

East Arkansas Community College, Forrest City, 870633-4480, North Arkansas College, Harrison, 870-743-3000, Northwest Arkansas Community College, Bentonville, (479) 636-9222, Rich Mountain Community College, Mena, 479-3947622,

CNC OPERATOR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the CNC operator training programs in Arkansas. For more training options, please visit or Arkansas State University Mid-South, West Memphis (additional program in Beebe), 870-733-6722, College of the Ouachitas, Malvern, 501-337-5000, coto. edu.








Northwest Technical Institute is accredited by The Council on Occupational Education (COE)

BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 39

Stop and think for a moment about everything in our world that runs on computer chips. Better yet, try to think of something that ISN’T controlled by a computer or app. The fact is, nearly everything that we do is impacted in some way by technology—technology that’s configured at some stage by a computer programmer. WHAT DO COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS AND COMPUTER CODERS DO? Even though computer programmers and computer coders are in the same job family, there are important differences to consider. Computer coders write the computer language (or “code”) for software programs that tell machines what to do. This software acts as the brains behind many of our “smart” devices (smartphones, smart cars, etc.) Codersmay also develop websites or apps for the companies they work for. Computer programmers do the same thing as computer coders, but are also responsible for managing the overall project of designing, producing and testing a new software product or designing a network system. Both computer coders and programmers may perform the following duties: • Develop programs that store, locate and retrieve data and information. • Write and test computer language or “code” such as C++ and Java. • Test newly created applications and programs to make sure they work as designed. • Manage computer systems and network operations, including performing network security functions against hackers. • Act as an on-site technician or troubleshooter for a factory or small manufacturer which relies on computer-assisted equipment such as computer-aided 40


drafting, machining or robotics to make products. experience a 360-degree digital environment. Manage and maintain computer systems in the • Some applications include giving a client a look at trucking industry to ensure on-board computers cola building before it is built, conducting flight trainlect and organize data properly. Or, serve a similar ing or producing a safety course that simulates fire role in the construction industry working with BIM, or other emergency. a project design and management system. WHERE DO COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS AND WHAT’S NEW? CODERS WORK? Consider just 10 years ago, few people even knew what Most programmers and coders work full-time in offices, an app was and look where we are now. Technology but the nature of the work allows many to work from moves so fast, just about anything we could list under home. Programmers may work alone or they may work the heading “What’s New” is likely to be replaced by as part of a team, depending on the size of the project. something faster and smarter within a very short period of time. Some emerging trends in the industry include: WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) In 2014, there were 3,500 computer programming • Applications provided through the internet that positions in Arkansas. Experts disagree on the job outwork across all system platforms. look for the future; some sources predict a decline in the • Designed to adapt as technology changes, therefore number of jobs while others expect it to grow as much programmers can spend less tgime re-writing and as eight percent. more time writing new programs. Computer programmers and coders are part of a much Big Data larger group of jobs under the category of information • Online tools collect habits and tendencies of users technology. Programmers who have general business to help businesses understand how it’s performing experience may become computer systems analysts. or to determine wants and needs. With experience, some programmers may become soft• In manufacturing, big data can show a company ware developers. With the right education and experihow to reduce waste, improve production quality ence, the career options in information technology are and increase overall efficiency. nearly endless. Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR) • Technologies that provide the user the ability to •

HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Computer Programmers • Lower Range (bottom 10%)— $47,130 annually/$22.66 per hour • Middle Range (median)— $70,040 annually/$33.67 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $100,110 annually/$48.13 per hour Your actual earning power depends on the company your work for, your level of experience and certifications, your years of experience and in some cases, the part of the state where you work. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Analytical skills • Understanding complex instructions in order to create computer code. • Ability to systematically think through existing issues or anticipate future problems. Thinking creatively • Develop, design or create new applications. • Transform ideas into software products. Detail oriented • Closely examine code to detect errors and bugs. • Testing to see how well a product or service works. Problem solving • Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem. • Coming up with workable solutions to issues. HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? If you attend high school in Arkansas, you already have access to beginning coding classes. In 2015, the state legislature passed a law requiring all Arkansas schools to provide computer science classes that included coding and other IT subjects as a way to give students a jump on the careers of the future. Arkansas was the first and, at the time, the only state in the country to require schools to offer such classes. After high school, you may attend a college which offers certificate programs that can provide basic skills in just a matter of months, all the way to an associate’s degree that takes two years. Computer coders and programmers do not complete apprenticeships like other trades, but continuing education to keep up with new computer languages and technology is usually expected.

Traditionally, employers have required computer programmers to have a bachelor’s degree, but a lot of companies today are showing they are willing to hire the person with the right skills and attitude, even if that person only has an associate’s degree. It’s also becoming more common for companies to help employees complete or expand their education, either through directly paying for school or through tuition reimbursement benefits. Finally, there’s a new type of computer school that’s starting to crop up around the country. Known as coding boot camps, these highly-focused and generally short-term education programs give students intensive training in coding applications. Arkansas’ first such school is the Arkansas Coding Academy, a joint program of the University of Central Arkansas and Metova Inc., which offers threeand six-month educational programs. COMPUTER CODING/COMPUTER PROGRAMMING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the computer coding and computer programming educational courses in Arkansas. For more training programs, please visit or Arkansas Coding Academy (University of Central Arkansas), Conway, Arkansas, 501-450-5276, University of Arkansas Little Rock, 501-569-3000, Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute, Forrest City, 870-633-5411, University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, 870-612-2000, Phillips Community College-University of Arkansas, Helena-West Helena (also programs in DeWitt and Stuttgart), 870-338-6474, Ozarka College, Melbourne, 870-368-7371, ozarka. edu.

CODY HOGAN Age: 22 Education: Associate’s degree, Computer Information Systems, Arkansas Northeastern College. Currently pursuing Bachelor’s degree, Computer Science, ASU Jonesboro Job: Computer Technician, Nucor-Yamato Steel, Blytheville, AR Snapshot: Born in California’s desert country, I came to Arkansas in 2010. I was ANC’s Outstanding Student of the Year, 2016. I have future plans to earn my Master’s degree and become a software developer . DID YOU HAVE A MANUFACTURING CAREER IN MIND WHEN YOU ENROLLED IN COLLEGE? No, it definitely wasn’t something I had in mind. That’s a really interesting thing I learned about computers the further I went. A lot of different majors you can go for, they have more narrow applications, but with computers they’re everywhere. They’re a part of every field I can think of. WHAT ROLE DO COMPUTERS PLAY IN MANUFACTURING AT NUCOR-YAMATO? The computers that we work on are all over the plant. Some of the computers are up on the furnace decks where they interact with PLCs (programmable logic controllers) that put electrodes into the metal to heat them up and make them go to almost molten temperatures. Then some of these computers are just standard in the office where salespeople and financial administrators work on them. WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT THE ROLE COMPUTERS PLAY IN MANUFACTURING? I really thought that between what I learned in the book and what I would encounter out at the manufacturing site would be a big difference. I figured there were going to be a lot of things I didn’t understand or that I couldn’t wrap my head around. But when I got out there, it really wasn’t nearly as complicated as I thought it would have been. BEST ADVICE FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING THIS FIELD? Electronics are everywhere around us and if there is some way you can tinker with them, or look through them, or just learn things about them, you can give yourself a good foundational understanding. That’ll give you a good base to go into all these classes because really, the hands-on experience is what matters the most.

BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 41

Diesel engines are the workhorses of the road and jobsite. Machines from over-the-road trucks to bulldozers to industrial and farm equipment run on diesel engines, which are known for their reliability and toughness. Diesel techs keep these machines rolling and running on the road, the jobsite and in factories. WHAT DO DIESEL TECHS DO? In a nutshell, diesel technicians inspect, diagnose, repair and maintain any machine with a diesel engine. A few examples include: • Aircraft support equipment. • Farm equipment, including tractors, harvesters, dairy and irrigation systems. • Marine equipment, ships and yachts. • Over the road trucks (semis). • Buses and dump trucks. • Earth moving equipment such as bulldozers, loaders, backhoes and graders. • Road construction/highway paving equipment. • Industrial/factory machines including cranes, pumps and drilling equipment. A diesel technician is similar to a diesel mechanic, because both use tools and training to diagnose problems, make repairs and perform necessary maintenance. A diesel technical is different from a diesel mechanic, generally speaking, in that: • Diesel technicians are trained to handle on-board electronics (computer systems) of the modern diesel engine. • Diesel mechanics are primarily trained to repair mechanical (moving parts) components of an engine.



Typical day-to-day job duties of diesel technicians include: • Make major and minor engine repairs by repairing or replacing parts and components. • Perform routine and preventative maintenance. • Work on a vehicle’s electrical and exhaust systems to comply with pollution regulations. • Test drive vehicles to diagnose malfunctions or to ensure that they run smoothly. • Utilize diagnostic equipment to help pinpoint problems. • Learn and apply new technology in advanced diagnostics and repairs. • Learn and abide by safety and environmental rules and procedures. Diesel techs work with a variety of tools, including: • Power and machine tools including pneumatic wrenches, lathes, grinding machines and welding equipment • Hand tools, including pliers, sockets and ratchets and screwdrivers • High-tech equipment, including hand-held or laptop computers and oscilloscopes to diagnose problems and adjust engine functions

WHAT’S NEW? Diesel machinery has enjoyed major advances in technology, which has created a growth in the need for skilled technicians. Between safety regulations, environmental controls and insurance guidelines, the trucking industry has a lot of rules it must abide by. To help stay in compliance, trucking companies rely on the technology that’s built into their fleet. As a result, it’s not unusual for a new truck to have multiple computers on board regulating everything from speed and location to fuel consumption. Some trucks are sophisticated enough to monitor their own systems and alert the operator when a problem is detected. Older trucks that didn’t have these computers installed when they were built are often overhauled with the new technology to help bring them up to speed. Farm technology is another fast-growing area where technicians are needed. Modern farm equipment can map out a field, test soil samples from different areas and apply the precise mix of fertilizer or minerals for each area. Harvesting equipment comes equipped with auto-steer, can track yields in real time and utilizes GPS to minimize harvest guesswork.

WHERE DO DIESEL TECHS WORK? Diesel techs are employed by (among others) • Manufacturers • Trucking companies • Equipment dealerships • Farm operations • Cities and counties Some techs may also work as inspectors to make sure equipment meets government regulations. The work environment for diesel technicians is in a repair, maintenance or garage-type facility. Some are mobile and must travel to the site of a breakdown or jobsite to provide service. In these instances, you may be required to work outside, sometimes in inclement weather. The majority of diesel techs work full-time. Some companies require on-call, night and weekend hours. Working hours may depend on your specialty; you may work on trucks as they come in for service, respond to emergency calls as they happen or you may be responsible for the regular maintenance of a fleet of vehicles and equipment. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were about 3,500 diesel technicians in Arkansas in 2014 and the Department of Labor expects that number to grow to more than 4,000 positions by 2024. That’s a job growth rate faster than the national average. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $25,720 annually/$12.37 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $35,980 annually/$17.30 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $57,470 annually/$27.63 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Physical skills • Ability to see things up close. • Good eye-hand coordination, able to handle/assemble small parts with fingers only. • Ability to hear differences in the sound of engines. Physical strength Technical skills • Knowing how engine components and systems work together. • Ability to diagnose and repair machines or systems. • Understanding a variety of tools and their functions. Computer knowledge • Comfortable working with computers. • Able to read and interpret diagnostic information. • Able to work safety with electricity.

Soft skills • Detail oriented and organized. • Able to problem-solve and troubleshoot. • Good customer service and communication skills. HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Many technicians, like mechanics, learned their trade on the job but these days, many employers prefer to hire technicians who have formal education in the field. As a result, several two-year colleges in Arkansas provide educational courses ranging from six months to about two years to complete. In addition, many diesel technicians are also required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) which allows them to test-drive the vehicles they work on. Employers may also send experienced technicians to special training classes conducted by manufacturers and vendors to learn about the latest diesel technology, techniques and equipment. Some employers may require (and pay for) their techs to be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Diesel technicians may be certified in specific repair areas, such as drivetrains, electronic systems and preventative maintenance and inspection. To earn ASE certification, technicians must have gained a certain minimum period of work experience and pass one or more ASE exams. To remain certified, diesel technicians must pass a recertification exam every few years. DIESEL TECHNICIAN PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the diesel technician training programs in Arkansas. For more training programs, please visit or University of Arkansas Community College, Hope, 870-777-5722, Arkansas State University Newport, 870-5127800, (also available at ASU campuses in Beebe and West Memphis). Northwest Technical Institute, Springdale, 479-751-8824, University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, 501-812-2200, University of Arkansas Fort Smith, 479- 7887000,

LEADING A NEW GENERATION OF DIESEL TECHS There aren’t many people in Arkansas, or perhaps the country, who are more passionate about the modern diesel engine than Kenneth Calhoun. In his job with Altec Service Group, he helps manage the mountain of data that today’s heavy machinery collects with its onboard computers. “When you look at the complexity that we’ve built into vehicles, some of it is because of the mandates that we’re faced with, but some of it is genuinely through what it should be,” he said. “Which is, healthy competition and taking advantage of technology to make our products more robust, smarter, more effective and very importantly, safer.” Two years ago, while working for Truck Centers of Arkansas, Entergy came around with an interesting problem. The utility company had just invested in something called telematics, an onboard computer system, and company officials were drowning in data. “With that system, they got access to all the vehicle engine and chassis fault code information,” Calhoun said. “On a fleet the size of theirs, that can very quickly become an overwhelming proposition. It wasn’t uncommon for it to have 3,000-4,000 scans with information their technicians had to deal with. “After a couple weeks their service supervisor said, ‘You’ve got to make this stop. We can’t deal with this.’” Calhoun developed algorithms that streamlined the tidal wave of data into reports that were far easier for service techs to get a handle on. Entergy wasn’t the only company with this problem, so he formed his own firm Roanwood Maintenance Data Management. He sold his company to Altec earlier this year and came aboard full time. He said the evolution of diesel engine technology just during his career has been astounding. “The first electronically controlled engines I worked on had a computer bolted to the side of the block. That would have been in the mid to late 1980s,” he said. “You take a typical class A over-theroad truck today, there may be 12 to 15 computers that are linked together on a common datalink communicating with each other and either actuating or monitoring every system on that vehicle.” Needless to say, this new generation of engine requires an entirely new generation of technician—one part computer geek, one part gearhead. “The people who support today’s engines have to be incredibly flexible and incredibly bright and be able to function in both worlds,” he said. “They have to function in the physical, mechanical world where it’s put together with nuts and bolts and fasteners and be able to navigate successfully in a computer world that has basically got its tentacles onto every aspect of the vehicle.”

BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 43

Electricians bring electrical power to homes and factories in every city and town in America. It is a steady occupation that is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years and is evolving with new levels of technology. You can choose to work for an electrical contractor, be on staff in a factory or own your own business, with the right license. All in all, it’s an exciting profession that’s always in demand.

WHAT DOES AN ELECTRICIAN DO? Electricians install and maintain electrical power, wiring, communications, lighting and control systems in homes, businesses and factories. They work in accordance with rules and regulations to ensure that buildings operate in a way that is safe to residents and occupants. Electricians’ general day-to-day responsibilities include: • Ensure businesses and factories operate safely and efficiently through scheduled maintenance and upgrades to their electrical systems. • Repair control systems, large and small motors and other equipment in factories; install electrical machines in factories. • Read blueprints and install electrical wiring and systems in new residential and commercial buildings under construction; install circuits, outlets, panel boards and other electrical components. • Access, test and upgrade older systems during remodeling projects. Find and replace faulty or aged wiring that could pose a safety hazard. • Plan the layout and installation of wiring through an entire building or series of buildings. Add, maintain and replace circuit breakers, fuses and wires. • Review the work other electricians do, making sure it meets the safety standards and building codes. Electricians can be divided into four general categories: Residential Wiremen • Install and maintain electrical wires that go into peoples’ homes. 44


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Replace worn fuse boxes with new circuit breakers Install new electrical equipment, such as light fixtures, ceiling fans, dimmer switches and outlets. Inside Wiremen • Place and maintain electrical wires in office buildings, factories, airports, schools and hospitals. • Maintenance work on industrial equipment and systems, including generators and transformers. • Maintenance or repair of assembly line machinery or motors. Telecommunications Electricians • Lay cable (including fiber optics) needed for all forms of communication, including phone and computers. • Install systems that run telephones, intercoms, computer networks, security and fire alarms. Outside Linemen • Set up the cable from power plants to buildings and homes. • Work atop telephone poles or alongside the road. • Work to restore power after storms and floods. Electricians use tools to cut and shape wire and bend conduits into specific angles, as well as a variety of measuring devices including: Ammeters—Used to measure the electric current in a circuit. Ohmmeters—Also known as ohm meter, this measures the electrical resistance that runs counter to a current. Voltmeters —Measures the amount of voltage passing between two points Oscilloscopes —Graphs how voltage rises and falls

over a specific period of time. WHAT’S NEW? Many electricians are getting the opportunity to work with exciting new technologies such as: Green Energy • Green energy includes solar panels and wind turbines to generate power. • Electricians handle special storage units called high-efficiency photovoltaic cells to collect energy. • They also install and service power converters which take the energy generated by the sun or wind, converts it to electricity and downloads it into the electrical system. Smart Electrical Grids • New technology that regulates the flow of power to users, detects malfunctions in the grid and maintains service to homes and businesses. • Electricians keep smart grids running at peak performance. Eye Tracking Technology • Disabled individuals use this technology to operate computers as sensors follow their eye movements on special screens. WHERE DO ELECTRICIANS WORK? Electricians held about 5,500 jobs in Arkansas in 2014, the majority of them working for electrical contractors. Nearly all electricians work full-time. Electricians work indoors and outdoors; at homes, businesses, factories and construction sites. Many electricians work alone, but sometimes they collaborate

with others. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew. During scheduled maintenance or on construction sites, electricians can expect to work overtime. Work schedules may include evenings and weekends and may vary during times of bad weather, which may require working in rain, wind or snow. Some electrical workers have to wear specialized safety equipment which can be uncomfortable outdoors in hot weather. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? The U.S. Department of Labor predicts by 2024, the number of electrician jobs in Arkansas will grow to 6,390. This represents a 16 percent growth rate which is higher than the national average. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $23,900 annually/$11.47 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $41,300 annually/$19.85 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $62,000 annually/$29.82 per hour Your actual earning power depends on the company your work for, your level of experience and licensing, your years of experience and in some cases, the part of the state where you work. REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE/SKILLS/ABILITIES Intellectual Ability • Skills in math, algebra, reading, writing. • Ability to retain information, such as local codes and safety procedures. Troubleshooting • Noticing problems or irregularities during tests. • Figuring out why something isn’t working. Mechanical Ability • Understanding machines and how they work. • Understanding tools and how how to use and maintain them. Business/Interpersonal skills • Time management to keep projects on schedule. • Ability to work with a team. • Customer service and listening skills. Physical Skills • Must have good color vision, because different wires are identified by their color. • Must be fit enough to move around all day while running wire. • Must be strong enough to lift and move components which may weigh up to 50 pounds. HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Most electricians learn their trade in a combination of classroom education and on-the-job training. Some two-year colleges also offer courses in electrical fields. Generally, a high school diploma is sufficient to get started. The most common way electricians learn is through an apprenticeship program; think of these programs as “electrician school.” Apprenticeship programs take four or five years to complete and

are often paid for by your employer. Some schools are also offered by trade groups and labor unions. Since most apprentices are already employed, they work during the day where they are supervised by more experienced, licensed electricians and attend class at night. Upon completion of apprentice school, you can test for your journeyman’s license, which allows you to work unsupervised on most tasks. You can stay a journeyman electrician as long as you want, but many electricians choose to test for the highest license, a Master Electrician. You are eligible to test for your Masters license after being an electrician for five years, at least one of which must be at the journeyman level. The benefits of becoming a Master Electrician is they make more money and they may open their own electrical business. Electricians may be required to take continuing education courses by their employers. These courses are usually related to safety practices, changes to the electrical code and training from manufacturers in specific products. ELECTRICAL APPRENTICESHIP & EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

SHARAZ RHODES Age: 21 Education: Fourth year apprentice Job: Electrical apprentice, Koontz Electric, Morrilton, Arkansas Snapshot: Member of the Arkansas National Guard Attends apprentice classes at University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton

The following is just a sample of some of the electrical training and apprenticeship programs in Arkansas. Not all college programs qualify as apprenticeships. For more training programs, please visit, or

WHAT’S YOUR APPRENTICE TRAINING SCHEDULE? How the whole system works is, it’s a four-year apprenticeship program. You go to class one night a week for four hours. You do all your schooling like that. It goes on just like a regular school semester and the company pays for the entire program.

AEAP, INC, Pine Bluff, 870-534-2672,

PRIOR TO YOUR APPRENTICESHIP, DID YOU HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE WITH ELECTRICITY? Honestly, I was green as could be. I had no experience whatsoever. It was all fresh and new for me. It was very interesting getting to learn something and getting to say that I’m part of a trade now. I can take this with me wherever I want to go.

Arkansas College of Electricity, Rogers, 479-6362633, Arkansas Construction Education Foundation (ACEF), multiple Arkansas locations, 501-372-1590, Black River Electrical, Paragould, 870-239-0969, El Dorado Electrical Apprenticeship, El Dorado, 870-639-3781, email eldoradojatc@suddenlinkmail. com. Fort Smith Electrical JATC, Fort Smith, 479-7099604, UAM College of Technology, Crossett, 870-3646414,

HAVE YOU PICKED THINGS UP QUICKLY? I wouldn’t say it’s the easiest trade by any means. It’s extremely dangerous, of course. Electricity isn’t anything to play around with. But if you ask questions on the job and you show you’re willing to learn, people are going to be willing to teach. All them old timers, they’re always willing to show a young guy how it’s done and teach him up right. WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS HAVE YOU BEEN A PART OF? Honestly, it’s all over the place. We do anything from working in a factory doing small work, wiring up a receptacle or changing out lights, all the way to a substation dealing with 13,800 volts. You know, the biggest and baddest things that power up the entire city. That kind of work will definitely keep you interested. WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS? The ultimate goal for me once I get my journeyman’s license is to take my Master test. Then your title is Master Electrician and with that license you can start your own business and eventually work your way up and run an entire city or something like that. I’d like to run my own company one day. BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 45

If it can push, pull, pump or lift material, rolls on tires or crawls on tracks like a tank, it’s where the heavy equipment operator calls home. On virtually all construction projects, these employees are the first workers on the job and the last to leave. Their work is essential to a smooth-running construction project. WHAT DO HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATORS DO? Operators drive, maneuver or control a variety of heavy construction equipment. “Heavy equipment” is a blanket term for numerous machines including: • Cranes • Bulldozers • Front-end loaders • Backhoes • Graders • Dredges • Excavators • Hoists • Pumps and compressors • Pile drivers • Asphalt spreaders, concrete paving machines and rollers In addition to operating these machines, heavy equipment personnel also do the following: • Clean and maintain equipment • Make basic repairs • Drive and maneuver equipment • Coordinate with other craftsmen on the jobsite • Keep up-to-date on and follow safety standards Some of the most common job titles within this category include: Operating engineers (sometimes called hoisting or portable engineers) 46


Work with excavation and loading machines equipped with scoops, shovels or buckets that dig sand, gravel, earth or similar materials. • Includes bulldozers, trench excavators, road graders. • Includes industrial trucks or tractors equipped with forklifts or booms for lifting materials. Paving and surfacing equipment operators • Control machines that spread and level asphalt or concrete for roadways or other structures. • Includes asphalt spreaders, concrete paving machine operators and tamping equipment. Pile-driver operators • Use large machines mounted on skids, barges or cranes to hammer piles into the ground. • Piles, made of concrete, wood or steel, support retaining walls, bridges, piers and building foundations. WHAT’S NEW? A construction site may not be the first place you think of when you think of high-tech advancements, but the technology involved with getting buildings out of the ground or a road built is light years ahead of where it was just a few years ago. Heavy equipment is more sophisticated than ever and new advancements are being introduced all the

time to make machines more versatile, more precise and therefore more economical to own and operate. Other trends include: Internet of Things (IoT) • A sensor or group of sensors installed for collecting and transferring data. Whenever a product carries the term “smart” or “intelligent” (smartphone, intelligent building) it’s considered part of this new group of products. • Heavy equipment includes a wide range of sensors that automatically provide information including diagnostics, fuel usage, machine hours and more. • More workers are also wearing safety sensors to monitor air quality and biometrics at the worksite. • Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are commonly used to track materials and tools. Designed Multi-Functionality • Construction companies are always looking for ways to get the most out of expensive equipment. • Multi-functional equipment can adapt a machine to a variety of tasks, such as backhoes that double as loaders through the use of interchangeable attachments. Telematics • Used for years by trucking companies, telematics keep track of the location, condition and operation of machines on the road or the jobsite.

ACE Glass Says “Consider Construction!” •

The feature uses global positioning to determine where and how equipment is being used. Telematics is expected to become more commonplace within the next few years.

WHERE DO HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATORS WORK? Some of the industries that utilize heavy equipment operators include: • Earth moving and leveling • Building construction • Highway and runway construction • Bridge and dam construction • Utility companies • Cities and counties The majority of construction equipment operators work full time, in nearly every type of weather condition. Like all jobs that work outdoors, there is the potential to get dirty, greasy or muddy on the jobsite. Some operators may also work in remote locations and have irregular schedules to match around-the-clock production or work that must be done late at night. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were a little more than 4,200 heavy equipment operators in Arkansas in 2014 and the number of positions is expected to grow eight percent by 2024, slightly below the national average Heavy equipment operators who are versatile with several different types of equipment will find themselves more in demand than those who are proficient with only one kind of rig. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $22,700 annually/$10.91 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $33,600 annually/$16.15 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $47,970 annually/$23.06 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Hand-eye-foot coordination • Steady hands and feet are critical to guiding and controlling heavy machinery precisely. • Must be able to maneuver big machines in tight spaces. Mechanical skills • Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance. Physical strength • Able to lift more than 50 pounds while on the job.

Comfortable with heights • Pile-driver operators may need to service the pulleys located at the top of the pile-driver’s tower. • Crane operators may work on skyscrapers or bridges, which are several stories tall. Building and construction • Knowledge of materials, methods and tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, highways and roads. WHERE DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Many workers learn equipment operation on the job after earning a high school diploma or equivalent, while others learn by attending a two-year college. Among two-year colleges, some may specialize in a particular brand or type of construction equipment while others may incorporate sophisticated simulator training into their courses. This allows beginners to familiarize themselves with the equipment in a virtual environment before operating real machines. Heavy equipment operators do not generally complete an apprenticeship program as workers in other trades do. In some cases, training is provided by equipment manufacturers, a trade union, industry groups or private companies. New or operators-in-training may operate light equipment under the guidance of an experienced operator before moving up to heavier equipment such as bulldozers. Some construction equipment with computerized controls requires greater skill to operate. Operators of this equipment may need additional training and some understanding of electronics. Construction equipment operators often need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to haul their equipment to various jobsites and may need special licenses for operating specific pieces of equipment.

…and The Many Career Opportunities Available!


Feeling proud as your work changes the face of Arkansas. High demand for skilled workers in the specialty trades. Company focus on excellence, innovation, community and integrity. Excellent pay and benefits with a locally owned, family business. “Ace Glass is a great company to learn from and grow with. I enjoy watching my work come up from the ground and turn into a building or project that will be there for the next 50 or even 100 years! Adam – ACE Glass Project Manager

Find Your Future at ACE Glass

(501) 372-0595 |

HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATOR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the heavy equipment programs in Arkansas. For more training programs, please visit University of Arkansas-Monticello, 870460-1026, North Arkansas College, Harrison, 870743-3000,

BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 47

HVACR technicians ensure people’s comfort by installing and maintaining heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems for homes and businesses. It’s a career field that demands a variety of skills of its technicians, and as long as summers are hot, winters are cold and food needs to be refrigerated, it’s a job that will never be out of demand. WHAT DOES A HVACR TECHNICIAN DO? HVACR (sometimes written as HVAC-R) stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. HCAVR technicians are specially trained individuals who install, service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems in: • Homes • Businesses (office buildings, retail stores) • Aerospace (working with specialty systems inside aircraft or spacecraft) • Institutional settings (hospitals, schools, airports) • Industrial/manufacturing (factories, meat processing plants) • Multi-unit living communities (apartments, barracks, dormitories) • Restaurants • Institutional kitchens such as school cafeterias • Cold storage facilities HVAC-R technicians work with systems such as oil burners, boilers, heat pumps, central air conditioning and hot-air furnaces. They also work with components and appliances such as commercial grade ice makers, refrigerators and freezers. Some day-to-day duties include: • Perform annual inspections and servicing of residential and commercial heating, cooling and refrigeration units. • Replace old, outdated technology with more energy-efficient, greener models. • Maintain ductwork that carries air from the heating or air conditioning unit to various parts of a building. • Repair systems when they break down. 48


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Ensure proper disposal of environmentally hazardous parts and chemicals. Test for leaks in piping or venting systems and make necessary repairs. Test electrical circuits or components for proper functioning. Install and test electronic control systems.

WHAT’S NEW? Equipment manufacturers are always developing new models that run at higher efficiency, thereby saving the owners money. After-market control systems, such as the Nest, employ smart technology to help home and business owners control their HVACR systems remotely or program different heating and cooling zones to kick in at different times of the day. Today’s HVACR technicians need to stay current on these changes in order to do their jobs. Other cutting-edge equipment and systems include: Thermally-driven air conditioning • Use solar energy, backed up by natural gas on cloudy days or at night. • Solar panels generate high enough temperature to drive a double-effect chiller . • Provides a low-cost alternative to conventional air conditioning units. Ice-powered air conditioner • Another low-cost alternative to conventional air conditioning. • Freezes 450 gallons of water in a tank overnight, provides cooling for up to six hours. • Once ice melts, system switches to backup air conditioning unit.

Geothermal heat pump • Makes use of heat from the earth by way of looped piping placed into the ground. • Fluid in this piping loops absorbs heat, which is carried back indoors to provide heating. • Can also be used to supply cooling. • Advertised to be up to four times more efficient than traditional systems. Smart thermostats • Whole-house control systems that monitor and maintain climate control . • Device “learns” owner preferences and automatically adjusts rooms to those settings. • Turns itself off when room is unoccupied; provides wi-fi enabled remote monitoring. WHERE DO HVAC TECHNICIANS WORK? A tech might work for a company that is appointment-based, going from home to home installing and maintaining cooling systems. Or, in industrial or commercial settings, techs might report to the same job site all day long for weeks at a time. Often, a HVACR tech’s van or truck is their office and workshop rolled into one. HVACR techs may work full time, regular hours or they may be assigned at least part of the time to on-call to handle emergencies. These calls come in during business hours, on weekends and holidays or in the middle of the night. After storms or blizzards and the normal changing of the seasons are almost guaranteed to generate a lot of overtime.


WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were almost 2,600 HVACR positions in Arkansas in 2014, and that number is expected to grow a whopping 17 percent by 2024. Arkansas’ job growth rate is projected to be higher than the national average for this position. To understand job growth, remember even the best HAVC system has a practical operating life of about 15 years. Imagine how many houses, apartments and commercial buildings are built or remodeled every year, that’s about how many systems need replacing. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $23,150 annually/$11.13 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $35,900 annually/$17.26 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $56,150 annually/$27.00 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Soft skills Active listening Communication Customer service Critical thinking/troubleshooting • Detecting and figuring out the cause of a problem. • Ability to weigh different solutions to a problem. • Sound decision-making skills to choose best course of action. Mechanical/construction skills • Knowledge of machines and tools, including their use, repair and maintenance. • Knowledge of materials and methods involved in building houses and internal systems. • Knowledge of electronics and basics of electricity. Physical skills/stamina • Ability to work in dark, cramped enclosed spaces. • Strength to lift or position components weighing over 50 pounds. • Stamina to move around, kneel, squat or bend for period of time. • Manual dexterity and good close-up vision.

HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? HVAC technicians require specialized training and licensing. The level of complexity of today’s systems means most employers prefer to hire workers who have received specialized instruction after high school, either through a community college or a three- to five-year paid apprenticeship. Apprentices acquire their skills both in the classroom and on the job, with the cost of the training often paid for by the employer. In Arkansas, HVAC technicians are also required to hold one or more licenses, depending on job responsibilities. Following your formal training, you must sit for an exam to earn your license. Additional training may be required by your employer, generally in the form of workshops or manufacturer-sponsored courses to bring techs up to speed on new features or equipment. HVACR APPRENTICESHIPS AND TRAINING PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the HVACR technician apprenticeships and training programs in Arkansas. College programs may not qualify as apprenticeships. For more training programs, please visitbeprobeproud,org, or Southern Arkansas University Tech, Camden, 870574-4500, Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, (Additional locations in Beebe and Newport) 870-5086100, University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, 501-977-2053, University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, 870-612-2000, Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship Training of Arkansas-El Dorado (additional locations in Little Rock and Van Buren), 870-863-6169,

Tyson Foods, the global food company that made chicken famous, is investing millions of dollars to establish workforce training centers nationwide, an ambitious plan that is expected to help thousands of individuals learn a new skill or retrain for a better job. And it all started in Mike Rogers’ Siloam Springs classroom. During the 20 years Rogers taught at Siloam Springs, he achieved remarkable results in preparing young people for life in the workforce. “My biggest goal was to connect my students with an employer in a viable career,” he said. “The solution for me was to provide awareness and exposure to the workplace and the skills necessary to have those positions.” Rogers said an early challenge was to change perceptions about the working world, particularly in the skilled professions. He did this by giving students a first-hand look at various career fields. “A lot of field trips, a lot of guest speakers, having subject matter experts come into the classroom and then going to locations and walking through the process,” he said. “Also, helping to develop programs like internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing; those were some of the solutions to the problem of people’s perception of manufacturing, or food processing, or the skilled trades in general.” Rogers didn’t stop there. He put his system to work to help the many people who needed career and skills training, but who were out of high school. “I started consulting for other companies to do adult training at night,” he said. “I began to offer apprenticeships and after-hours classes that maximized resources. I would teach adults from Simmons, Akey Foods, Top Interest, Gates, Baldor, local machine shops.” Word of Rogers’ program reached Donny Smith, thenCEO of Tyson, who after seeing the program firsthand last fall committed to take the model nationwide. And he put Rogers in charge of bringing those schools to life. “I’ve been given a budget to go out and grow programs similar to what I started in Siloam Springs,” he said. “We’ll target 10 locations a year for the next three years, so we can implement between 30 and 50 schools.” Rogers is already working on Arkansas locations in Eureka Springs, Clarksdale, Pea Ridge and two locations in Springdale, both for new schools and programs that partner with existing training programs at the high school or post-secondary level. Additional Arkansas locations, as well as sites in other states, are also in the works. He said he’s proud to work for a company that’s as invested in the community as Tyson is. “When Tyson comes to town their community is very, very important to us,” he said. “This is our chance as a company to give back.”

Arkansas Construction Education Foundation, Little Rock, 800-240-2730, BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 49

If you’re someone who likes every day to provide a different challenge—and who enjoys being multi-faceted enough to meet those challenges–—then Industrial Maintenance may be the field for you. These skilled professionals are the go-to in any factory or industrial facility, trained to handle a number of situations. They are key players in keeping machinery rolling and the production schedule on time. WHAT DOES AN INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN DO? Industrial maintenance personnel are the mechanical experts in any manufacturing facility, trained to assemble, repair and service expensive equipment. They have a wide skillset that allows them to adapt to various situations. Examples of machines they may work with are robotic welding arms, automobile assembly line conveyor belts, hydraulic lifts, production machinery and packaging equipment. Companies often consult with their industrial maintenance personnel before purchasing new equipment. The industrial maintenance field can be broken down into the following job titles: Industrial machinery mechanics • Detect and correct errors before the machine damages itself or the product. • Use technical manuals, understanding of industrial equipment and observation to determine the cause of a problem. • Utilize computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques to determine the cause of malfunctions. • Disassemble malfunctioning machines, repair or replace parts, reassemble, then test. • Work with hand tools; also utilize lathes, grinders and drill presses. Welding skills are often required. Machinery maintenance workers • Perform basic maintenance and repairs on machines. • Clean, lubricate, perform basic diagnostic tests, check performance, test damaged machine parts. 50


• • • • •

• • • •

Following machine specifications and adhering to maintenance schedules, they also perform minor repairs. Use a variety of tools from screwdrivers and socket wrenches to hoists. Millwrights Install, maintain and disassemble industrial machines. Perform repairs, including replacing worn or defective parts of machines. May take apart entire machines to relocate them or make room for new equipment. Disassemble, categorize and package each part of the machine. These projects can take a few hours or can take several weeks. Use a variety of tools, including Hand tools (hammers, levels, wrenches) Measuring (micrometers, measuring tapes, lasers) Transport/placement (cranes, trucks, forklifts, hoists, winches, cranes) Welding, brazing and cutting equipment

WHAT’S NEW? Daily duties As already stated, industrial maintenance jobs offer a high degree of variety, as these skilled workers must be ready to handle anything that breaks unexpectedly. A person who demands predictability in their day and the ability to stick to rigidly planned activities will not do well in this job as every day is truly a new challenge. Technology Just like every other type of machine, factory and

manufacturing equipment is more complex thanks to computerized controls and mechanisms. Industrial maintenance workers have to stay up to date with the latest equipment in order to detect problems, fix issues and in some cases, disassemble and reassemble machines entirely. WHERE DO INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS WORK? The vast majority of these skilled professionals work in a manufacturing or industrial plant. A small percentage work for companies that specialize in industrial repair and maintenance. Most of these technicians are employed full-time during regular business hours, but they may also serve on-call, night or weekend shifts. The majority of work is typically performed indoors. Workers must follow safety precautions and usually wear some form of protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-toed shoes, gloves and earplugs. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? The outlook in this sector is bright. There were 4,760 industrial machinery mechanics jobs in Arkansas in 2014, jobs that are expected to grow 24 percent by 2024, well ahead of the national average. There were 790 mechanical maintenance worker positions in Arkansas; and that job is expected to increase 16 percent—double the national average. Millwrights represented 770 positions and that job is projected to grow 15 percent, on pace with the rest of the country.

HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Industrial machinery mechanics • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $29,370 annually/$14.12 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $45,240 annually/$21.75 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%) — $67,100 annually/$32.26 per hour

• • •

Machinery maintenance workers Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $25,660 annually/$12.34 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $41,580 annually/$19.99 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%) — $59,520 annually/$28.62 per hour •

• • • • •

Millwrights • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $27,660 annually/$13.30 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $39,660 annually/$19.07 per hour • Upper Range (top 10%) — $61,060 annually/$29.35 per hour

• • •

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Mechanical skills • Knowledge of machines and tools, including their design, use and maintenance. Production/processing methods • Knowledge of raw materials, production processes,

quality control and other aspects of manufacturing and distributing goods. Math skills Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics. Repair/maintenance skills Repairing machines or systems using the right tools. Planning and performing basic maintenance on equipment. Operation monitoring Reading gauges, dials or display screens to make sure a machine is working. Recognizing irregularities in a machine’s operation. Troubleshooting/diagnosis Figuring out why equipment, machines, wiring or computer programs are malfunctioning. Deciding on the right course of action. Testing outcomes and adjusting accordingly. Flexibility Able to react to unexpected or emergency situations. Effective time management. Prioritization of tasks in order of importance.

HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Most workers in this field have at least a high school diploma and, depending on the position, may complete some post-secondary education up to an associate’s degree. Industrial maintenance programs are generally offered through community colleges and may include courses such as welding, mathematics, hydraulics and pneumatics.

Industrial machinery mechanics may receive more than a year of on-the-job training and often receive some college coursework as well. Machinery maintenance worker on-the-job training typically lasts a few months to a year. They also typically complete some college coursework. Most millwrights go through an apprenticeship program that lasts about four years, after which they can usually perform tasks with less guidance. Employers, local unions and contractor associations typically sponsor apprenticeship programs. INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE APPRENTICESHIP AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the industrial maintenance apprenticeship and training programs in Arkansas. For more options, please visitcareeronestop. org. Arkansas State Carpenters JATC, Russellville, 479-9674240, College of the Ouachitas, Malvern, 501-337-5000, coto. edu/pages/Ouachita-Career-Center. Southeast Arkansas College, Pine Bluff, 870-543-5900, University of Arkansas Community College, Batesville, 870-612-2000,



Medical Assisting


Paid Internships available PACE Manufacturing & Industrial Electronics Scholarships offered $96/credit hr. for Arkansas residents Industrial Electronics Industrial Robotics Simulation Cell Named 2017 Best Community College in Arkansas (

Manufacturing 870-391-3505 1515 Pioneer Drive, Harrison

Biomedical Equipment Repair BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 51

Imagine someone invents a new machine that will revolutionize the way a certain product is manufactured. Have you ever wondered where parts, instruments and components come from to build that machine? Machinists are industrial technicians that provide the solution, and also produce parts and components for existing machines. WHAT DOES A MACHINIST DO? Long before anyone had ever heard of a “maker space” there were machinists, trained craftspeople who produce parts and instruments using a variety of mechanical and computer-controlled machines. Machinists set up and operate a variety of computerand mechanically-controlled machine tools to fashion raw materials like metal and plastic into precision parts and instruments. Their tools include: • Lathes • Milling machines • Drills and drill presses • Grinders Day to day responsibilities include: • Align, secure and adjust cutting tools and workpieces. • Monitor the feed and speed of machines. • Turn, mill, drill, shape and grind machine parts to specifications. • Measure, examine and test completed products for defects. • Smooth the surfaces of parts or products. Many machinists today must be able to use both manual and computer numerical control (CNC) machinery. CNC machines provide computerized control of equipment used to make all the necessary cuts to create a part. Machinists determine the cutting path, speed of the cut and feed rate by programming instructions into the CNC machine. Workers may produce large quantities of one part, 52


small batches or one-of-a-kind items. Parts range from Working in specialized metals simple steel bolts to titanium bone screws for orthope• Machinists work in space age and exotic materidic implants. Hydraulic parts, antilock brakes and autoals including titanium, carbon fiber and industrial mobile pistons are other examples of the components plastics. machinists make. • These materials each require specialized applicaSome machinists repair or make new parts for existtions, machining techniques, handling and tools. ing machinery. Because most machinists train in CNC programming, WHERE DO MACHINISTS WORK? they may also write basic programs and often modify The vast majority of machinists work in manufacturprograms. These modifications, called offsets, fix probing industries and independent machine shops. Mainlems and improve efficiency by reducing manufacturtenance machinists work in most industries that use ing time and tool wear. machinery in manufacturing plants. Machinists generally work a 40-hour week with WHAT’S NEW? evening and weekend shifts becoming more common. Technology Overtime is common during peak production periods. • Some newer machines use lasers, water jets or elecMost machine shops are relatively clean, well-lit and trified wires to cut the workpiece. ventilated and many computer-controlled machines are • New types of machine tools, materials and techpartially or totally enclosed. niques are being introduced constantly. Exposure to noise, debris and lubricants are greatly • Machinists must keep up with the changes in techminimized. nology to stay current in their jobs. Workers must follow safety precautions including wearing safety glasses and earplugs. Sustainable manufacturing Some machines feature automated loaders, auto• Concepts which looks for processes that improve matic tool changers and computer controls, which allow the energy-efficiency of cutting and forming. machines to operate without anyone present. One pro• Using greener processes for machine tools, miniduction machinist, working eight hours a day, might mizing materials waste and hazardous byproducts. perform tasks on several CNC machines at once. In the off-hours of 24-hour operations , known as Aerospace manufacturing technologies “lights-out manufacturing,” a factory may need only a • Includes the use of new materials, machining techfew machinists to monitor the entire factory. nology and tools, production planning and repair processes for aircraft manufacturing.

WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were just under 2,750 machinist jobs in Arkansas in 2014 and the outlook for job growth is good. Analysts predict these jobs will grow between seven and 16 percent by 2024. This demand is in part because so many people in the workplace are reaching retirement age. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%) — $24,270 annually/$11.67 per hour • Middle Range (median) — $38,300 annually/$18.41 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) — $59,140 annually/$28.43 per hour

Individual wages can fluctuate by industry, experience and skill level. Machinists can advance in their careers in several ways: • Become CNC programmers • Become tool and die or mold makers • Be promoted to supervisory or administrative positions • Open your own machine shop WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Physical strength/stamina • Modern factories use autoloaders and overhead cranes to reduce heavy lifting, but machinists still routinely lift moderately heavy workpieces. • The job also requires stamina because machinists

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

• •

stand most of the day. Analytical and mathematical skills Machinists must understand technical blueprints, models and specifications so they can craft precision metal parts. CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools and computerized measuring machines all require good math skills. Algebra and trigonometry are especially useful to a machinist. Attention to detail Machinists’ work must be accurate, in fact, some machined parts may demand accuracy to within .0001 of an inch. Mechanical/technical skills Machinists must be able to operate various machines and tools to complete their work. They also must understand computerized measuring machines and metalworking processes such as stock removal, chip control and heat treating and plating.

HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? After earning a high school diploma or equivalent, some machinists learn entirely on the job. Others acquire skills in a mix of classroom and on-the-job training. Formal training programs, typically sponsored by a union or manufacturer, are an excellent way to learn the job. Training programs are often a combination paid shop

training and related classroom instruction, and depending on the program can take months or years. Two-year college programs range from a couple of months to two years. In Arkansas, machinists don’t generally serve an apprenticeship like other trades do. MACHINIST EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The following is just a sample of some of the machinist training programs in Arkansas. For more training programs, please or University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, (870) 777-5722, Arkansas Northeastern College, Blytheville, (870) 7621020, Black River Technical College-Pocahontas, (870) 2484000, Rich Mountain Community College, Mena, (479) 3947622, National Apprenticeship Training Foundation, Arkadelphia, (870) 246-0320,

Little Rock Joint Apprentice Training Committee

• Attend class one night a week • You pay only for school books • Work for a contractor and earn while you learn

...the right choice

7418 S. University Ave. • Little Rock, AR 72209 501-565-0768 (select option 1) • BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 53


Millie Normand joined the Air Force to become a drafter 20 days after her high school graduation.


ike a lot of military personnel, Millie Nordman has seen a good chunk of the world, learned how to lead a team and perform under pressure. She’s also turned the U.S. Air Force into her career with more than 19 years of service to her credit. And, she’s one of millions of active military personnel who learned a trade that will serve her well in the private sector when her career in uniform comes to an end in 2018. “I always try to stress to my airmen that there are bigger things out there,” she said. “What you’re doing is part of a bigger picture.” Nordman, a drafter, got into the service exactly 20 days after her high school graduation. She came from a blue-collar family —her mother was a pipefitter and her father was a welder —but being around those professions didn’t make her want to follow in her parents’ footsteps. “When[Mom] when through apprenticeship school she would take me along and I would do my homework along with her work,” Nordman said. “She would pull me into the welding booth with her. I was like, I’m not doing this. I love my mom to death and they worked hard to put me through school, but that’s not what I wanted to do. “I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do. So that’s kind of why I wanted to join the military to get something to do.” WHAT CAN I DO IN THE MILITARY? The five branches of the United States Military— Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard—are first and foremost tasked with defending the interests of the United States and her allies against hostile aggres54


sors such as terrorists and enemy combatants in wartime. What you may not know is, members of the Armed Forces also perform hundreds of jobs every day at home and abroad to keep military operations running smoothly. Vehicles need to be serviced, power has to be maintained and deadlines have to be met. Especially in peacetime, a soldier’s day is not unlike that of any other skilled professional in this regard. Each branch of the military offers hundreds of jobs for soldiers, sailors and airmen to choose from based on their interests and skills. Enlistees are given the opportunity to select different job fields, and while they don’t always get their first choice, they are matched according to their list and current needs. A sampling of available military skilled job categories includes (not all jobs available in all branches): • Communications Technicians • Avionics • Computers • Electronics • Telcommunications • Construction, building and extraction • Construction carpenters • Plumbers • Electricians • Construction equipment operators (building and highway) • Pipefitters and steam fitters • Health care practitioners • Dental hygienists and assistants • Medical/physician assistants • Respiratory therapy technicians • Surgical technologists

• • • • • • • • • • •

Information technology/computer science Computer programmer Information security analyst Database administrator Mechanic and repair technicians Aircraft power plant Welder CNC programmer Industrial maintenance Machinist Heavy equipment

HOW DO I GET INTO THE RIGHT JOB? The military utilizes an aptitude test to help new recruits discover which job path is right for them. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) was developed by the Department of Defense to measure a person’s strengths, weaknesses and potential for future success. There are two versions of the test: • The student ASVAB (also known as ASVAB Career Exploration Program or ASVAB CEP) is given in high schools and community colleges. • The enlistment version of the ASVAB is given at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) once a recruit enlists. The test results don’t dictate what field you go into, but gives you an idea of what you might be successful at. It can often open a door to a field you’ve never considered before, such as in Nordman’s case. “They gave us a book of jobs and I looked at the one for engineering assistance,” she said. “It talked about soil testing and construction and testing material. I was like OK I’m sold, that’s kind of interesting. Then my first

day at tech school, we had drafting tables. Apparently, I didn’t read that in the fine print. “I was very fortunate; I went in ‘open general,’ which I don’t suggest people do. That means I could get selected for any job. I got lucky and got my second choice.” WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? After basic training, you’re sent to tech school to receive the specialized training for your field. The job you choose determines the location where you’re sent. “My tech school was Tri-Service, so I had Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force,” Nordman said. “We had one Navy guy and then we had like 13 or 14 Army; three of us females from the Air Force and one lady from the Army.” Formal training varies with the job selected and can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Continuing education in the military is commonplace to stay up on new technology and to prepare for changes in job responsibilities. “When I came in the military as a young airman, we got put in the drafting and surveying section, so we did a lot of the mapping,” she said. “We had to go out and survey. Like, if some farmer built a house we had to go and survey it so we knew where the flight paths were for the helicopters.” “I didn’t think I was going to like my job because I wasn’t a drafting person, but the surveying part of it is really fun because you get to be outside. My mindset went around that and now I don’t want to do the surveying, I want to deal with the mapping because we’ve gone from autoCAD to GIS (Geographical Information System), like GoogleMaps. I didn’t start getting into that until 2004. That year, I went to Iraq and we had to learn the equipment on the fly because we’d never had this equipment before.” WHERE CAN I GO? Serving in the U.S. Military can take you, literally around the world. Most active military personnel have a list of places they’ve been deployed, some of which put them more in harm’s way than others. Military service can be difficult for families, as soldiers are deployed where they are needed, usually for months at a time. On the other hand, a four-year hitch is roughly equal to the time it takes for an apprenticeship in any skilled field. Former military are not qualified to immediately sit for a journeyman electrician or plumbers license, but generally receive credit for their service in formal apprentice programs, which shortens their preparation for the civilian workforce. And, in virtually all other skilled fields, their military training prepares them to enter the labor force right away. Best of all, many military personnel come out of the service with degrees and technical training without piling up any student loan debt. HOW DO I LEARN MORE? To get the specifics on educational and job opportunities in the U.S. Armed Forces, contact your local recruiter or consult the following websites: • • • • • • • BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 55

Few skilled labor jobs provide as many different opportunities, or are in as consistently high demand as plumbers. Whether working in new construction, industrial settings or running their own business, plumbers have the potential to earn very good wages over a long, successful career. WHAT DO PLUMBERS DO? Plumbers build and maintain piping systems that are responsible for moving liquid, steam, natural gas, liquid fuel or waste from one place to another. Day to day work activities include: • Install and connect piping and fixtures, including welding metal components. • Develop blueprints to plan pipes and fixtures within a structure. • Make connections between the city’s water supply and homes and businesses. • Install bathtubs, showers, sinks, toilets, dishwashers and water heaters. • They may help design where the plumbing fixtures should go within the building. • In industrial settings, they perform inspections, maintenance and new installation handling fuel, wastewater and water used as a coolant such as in nuclear power plants. • Perform minor carpentry to repair or reconfigure systems, such as cutting holes in walls to access pipes or hanging supports to hold pipes in place. • Install and service septic systems. • Perform functions related to gas lines including installation, maintenance and replacement and proper installation of gas appliances. Related jobs that utilize the same basic plumbing skillset while performing additional specialized work include: Pipelayers • Provide the major framework for outside plumb56


ing systems by installing the pipe to build these systems. Construct oil and gas lines by soldering, welding or cementing them in place.

Pipefitters and steamfitters The primary difference between pipefitters and steamfitters is pipefitters specialize in pipe systems that move liquids, which steamfitters specialize in pipe systems that move high-pressure liquids or gases. • Pipefitters and steamfitters work with both highpressure and low-pressure systems and install automated controls to regulate industrial systems. • Both jobs may work in power and industrial plants, installing and maintaining pipe systems used for industrial purposes. •

Sprinklerfitters A highly specialized plumber who installs and maintains automatic fire sprinkler systems in office buildings, manufacturing and industrial plants and multi-unit residential properties. • They may also work for landscape companies installing in-ground sprinkler systems. •

WHAT’S NEW? Just like every other industry, plumbing has become increasingly complex thanks to technology, and as a result, plumbers today are installing more efficient and advanced systems. These include: “Brain Pipes” • Smart home automation plumbing systems

that allow the homeowner to conserve natural resources and reduce their water footprint. Smart pipes can monitor an entire home or building, sending the property owner an alert to any breaks or leaks.

Green Plumbing High-efficiency components designed to reduce water usage. • Includes faucets, shower heads and toilets with low flow flush capacity. •

Smart Appliances Self-monitoring dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters and toilets. • Computer chips control everything from wash settings and water temperature to water conservation modes and automated cycles. • Appliances sync with smart devices to be controlled remotely. • Greywater Recycling • Systems capture water from bathroom sinks, showers and washing machines that may contain traces of dirt, food or cleaning products. • Systems redirect this water for use in watering residential yards and gardens or landscaping and flower beds outside corporations and office buildings. •

WHERE DO PLUMBERS WORK? With so many applications for a plumber’s skills, they can work in a wide range of environments:

WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were almost 3,450 plumbing jobs in 2014 and the future for this skilled profession is very bright. Experts predict that the number of plumbing jobs will increase 13 percent by 2024. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%)— $23,850 annually/$11.47 per hour • Middle Range (median)— $37,380 annually/$17.97 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%)— $55,860 annually/$26.85 per hour Some things that impact your earning potential include your license level (apprentice, journeyman, Master) and any additional training or certifications you earn. For Master plumbers who choose to start their own business versus working for an established firm, potential earnings are limited only by your skill, customer service and work ethic. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Mechanical ability • Knowledge of machines and tools, including their use, repair and maintenance. • Knowledge of water systems and their upkeep. Building and construction expertise • Knowledge of materials, methods and the tools used in construction. • Comprehensive understanding of regulations and building codes. Design skills • Knowledge of design techniques and principles concerning technical plans, blueprints, drawings and models.

HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Plumbers begin their journey in an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship training schools are specialized education centers sponsored by trade associations or unions, as stand-alone institutions and some two-year Arkansas colleges. Apprenticeships range from four- to five-year programs and typically, you are sent to apprentice school by your employer after hiring on with a company. What this means is, you work during the day learning your craft under an experienced plumber and attend class one or two nights per week for classroom instruction. It also means that your education is paid for by your employer. After you complete your apprenticeship, you test for your Journeyman’s license. A Journeyman level plumber can work unassisted on most projects and can generally handle more advanced projects than an apprentice. Some people choose to test for their Master’s license. Master plumbers represent the highest level of plumbers and therefore command the highest pay. PLUMBING APPRENTICESHIPS & TRAINING PROGRAMS The following is just a sample of some of the plumbing training and apprenticeship programs in Arkansas. Not all college programs that teach plumbing concepts qualify as apprenticeships. For a complete list of training programs, please visit, arkansasapprenticeship. com Arkansas Construction Education Foundation (ACEF), Little Rock, 501-372-1590, Central Arkansas Apprenticeship Committee for the Plumbing Industry, multiple Arkansas training sites, 501-231-6471, email: pcmpa@aol. com. Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship Training of Arkansas, Little Rock Training Center, (additional training sites in El Dorado and Van Buren) 501-562-4482, NWA Plumbing School, Springdale, 479-7904623, email: Black River Community College – Pocahontas, 870-248-4000,


If you work for a plumbing business that serves residential clients or if you work for a manufacturing firm, you may work primarily daytime hours. If you work for a company that does work in new construction, you could work outdoors in remote locations or put in overtime to keep up with production schedules. Plumbers who are self-employed have some flexibility to determine their own schedules, but it takes a lot of work and “extra mile” service to get a business off the ground. Nearly all plumbers work “on call” at some point in their career, providing late night and weekend emergency service. There’s no denying that some of the material plumbers work with is unpleasant, particularly in the case of wastewater, backed-up toilets or malfunctioning septic systems. But that’s only one part of the plumbing industry. Plumbers who work for manufacturers and power plants often work in climate-controlled conditions. Building new piping systems is no more or less uncomfortable than any other craft at a jobsite.

DANIEL HAMDEN Age: 32 Education: High school diploma, U.S. Air Force Job: Fuel Maintenance/Plumbing Snapshot: Originally from Michigan. In 12 years has been stationed in Japan, Germany, Korea, Iran and Iraq Pursuing a degree in environmental science HOW DOES PLUMBING RELATE TO FUEL MAINTENANCE? I came in with fuel maintenance and I worked on aircraft refueling systems. There’s big underground tanks and pumps and filters for the base fuel and we do all the maintenance for that. Since it was so similar with the hydraulics, piping, stuff like that, the Air Force merged plumbing with fuel systems maintenance. The bulk of our work is becoming plumbing, but the fuel part is extremely important. WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL? Pipefitter would be the best match on the civilian side and also just plumbing. We do a lot of replacing drains, clearing drains, but we also make sure the water is drinkable—chlorine levels, pH levels. We make sure fuel is clean to go into the planes, which is really important. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO ENLIST? After high school I worked landscaping for two years. I was making OK money, but I just wanted to go do something different. I even had college lined up, but I didn’t think I was ready for college. I was like, I need to do something with myself and I thought this would give me some discipline. WHERE DID YOU TAKE YOUR PLUMBING TRAINING? Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas. We go back there periodically for other types of training like tank entry cleaning, fuels technician, fire suppression systems, backflow prevention. WHAT ARE SOME JOBS PEOPLE WITH YOUR TRAINING GO INTO AFTER THE MILITARY? A lot of people in the fuels career field end up becoming either managers of a fuels preventative maintenance program or they travel around and do that job. You can make a lot of money if you’re willing to travel. On the plumbing side I’ve seen people get licenses to work in a wastewater plant treating the water, making it drinkable again. There’s good money in that, too. This is a good path to get there. BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 57

In factories large and small across our state, tool and die makers keep machines running. They play an important part of the industrial process by creating pieces that help workers produce the many things we need and use every day. It is a precise and time-honored craft that is highly-valued, demanding mechanical knowledge, computer skills and attention to detail. WHAT DOES A TOOL AND DIE MAKER DO? Tool and die makers are a class of machinist who make special components and parts that help other craftsmen and women do their jobs more accurately and more efficiently. This category of craftsperson creates: Tools • Parts used in production machines in factories. • Includes cutting instruments, gauges and other measuring devices. Dies • Precision tools and metal forms used to cut, shape and form metal, plastic and other materials. • Found in machine presses and other industrial equipment. Jigs and fixtures • Devices that hold metal while it is bored, stamped or drilled. • Metal molds for die casting and molding plastics, ceramics and composite materials. Tool and die makers might produce replacement parts for existing machines or design an improved component that works better or performs a special function. In some cases, they may construct an entirely new mechanism. For this reason, tool and die makers are equally useful to current manufacturers as well as inventors and entrepreneurs developing new products and bringing them to market. Traditionally, the tool and die makers did their work with a set of mechanical instruments, but today, the pro58


cess usually involves CAD technology to develop products and parts. The tool and die maker enters a design into a software program that produces digital blueprints (sometimes called a schematic) of what they are making CNC machines read these digital instructions contained in the program to produce the part. Given this process, it is easy to see why tool and die makers are often trained to operate both CNC machines and write CNC programs. A tool and die maker’s typical duties include: • Reading blueprints, sketches, specifications or CAD and CAM files for making tools and dies. • Computing and verifying dimensions, sizes, shapes and tolerances of workpieces. • Setting up, operating and disassembling conventional, manual and CNC machine tools. • Filing, grinding and adjusting parts to fit together properly. • Testing completed tools and dies to ensure they meet specifications. WHAT’S NEW? As we have seen, tool and die making is fundamental to virtually every form of manufacturing there is. So why, you might ask, have the number of these machinists shrunk by half over the past 10 to 15 years? Experts say the following factors are likely to blame: • Cheaper foreign competition. • Slower growth in certain kinds of manufacturing. • Technology, which has allowed machines to take

the place of human employees. Large numbers of retirees with no one to take their place. At the same time, experts say tool and die jobs are poised to make a big comeback, both in the United States and around the world. U.S. manufacturing, particularly the auto industry, has rebounded in recent years The growth of “maker spaces” and entrepreneurs has inspired more people to develop small, specialty manufacturing and created a demand for specialized machines and parts. Dealing with foreign companies is more complicated and often the products are of inferior quality. This makes many companies more willing to do business with a local tool shop, even if it costs a little more.

WHERE DO TOOL AND DIE MAKERS WORK? Many American tool and die professionals work in and/or own small, independently-owned tool shops. In other cases, tool and die makers are part of a manufacturing facility while a few work in research labs and maker spaces at colleges, universities and different public or private facilities. Manufacturers, producing everything from agricultural equipment to refrigerators, and segments of the construction field also employ tool and die makers.

WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? Tool and die makers held about 640 positions in Arkansas in 2014. Analysts have a hard time agreeing on what long-term job growth could be. Some predict the number of jobs will stay where it is, others say it will grow somewhere between two to seven percent by 2024. Tool and die makers have taken steps to make themselves more in demand by adapting to trends within manufacturing such as focusing on startups or specializing in advanced metals Retirees are also creating some job opportunities as independent shops and manufacturers look to replace craftspeople leaving the workplace. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower rRange (bottom 10%)— $28,820 annually/$13.86 per hour • Middle Range (median)— $45,840 annually/$22.04 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%)— $60,520 annually/$29.10 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Mechanical knowledge • How to use, maintain and repair machines and tools. • Mathematics ability. • Including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics. Design • Knowledge of design techniques and tools. • Ability to read or interpret technical plans, blueprints, drawings and models.

• •

• • •

Engineering/Technology skills Comfortable with operating computers and computerized equipment. Ability to imagine new product or improve existing components. Production and processing Handling raw materials such as wood, metal, plastic or composites. Attention to quality control and safety. Control costs.

HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Many tool and die makers learn on the job, but it’s generally more common for them to have some college instruction. High school coursework that can be helpful includes higher-level math, blueprint reading, metalworking and drafting. Some community colleges have two-year programs that train students to become tool and die makers, with classes devoted to design and blueprint reading, using welding and cutting tools and programming CNC machines. New workers may also complete an apprenticeship program, which is typically paid for by a manufacturer. Apprenticeship programs generally consist of paid shop training and related technical instruction over several years. Additional training throughout one’s career is a given, considering how fast things change. This training, unless required by an employer, is optional, but gives the tool and die maker a leg up on the competition while keeping them up-to-date on the latest tools and techniques.

TOOL AND DIE EDUCATION PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the tool and die training programs in Arkansas. For a list of training programs, please or careeronestop. org. Arkansas State University-Beebe, 501-882-3600, asub. edu. Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas, 870,-584-4471, University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, 479-788-7000, uafs. edu. University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, 870-777-5722, East Arkansas Community College, 870-633-4480, eacc. edu.

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The welding profession is one of nearly unlimited opportunities. Welders work in a wide range of industries and work environments, are in high demand, command good wages and even launch their own businesses. For a person with the right skills and work ethic, welding is one of the most stable skilled professions someone can have. WHAT DOES A WELDER DO? In the simplest terms, welders are skilled professionals who join two pieces of metal using heat and gas in order to seamlessly and permanently bond them. The type of welding used on any given job depends on the materials. Welding is the most durable way to join two parts, using electrical currents to create heat and bond metals together. In all, there are more than 100 different processes that a welder can use, four of the most common being: GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) • More commonly known as MIG Imetal inert welding, this type is among the most easily mastered type of welding. • Acceptable for fusing mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum. Arc Welding • Arc welding is also known as SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) or stick welding. • The most basic type of welding. • Commonly used in manufacturing, construction and repair work. FCAW (Flux-Cored Arc Welding) • Developed as a lower-cost, high-speed alternative to stick welding. • Known for being easy to learn. • Commonly used to bond iron and steel; used in manufacturing, construction and repair work. GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) • Commonly known as TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding. • Delivers a superior finish without requiring a lot of 60


finish sanding or grinding. Very complex process, requiring a welder with a lot of experience to perform well.

WHAT’S NEW? Most people have at least a general idea of what a welder is and what he or she does. But did you know there are two related processes that perform many of the same functions as welders, but using different tools and bonding elements? These jobs aren’t new, exactly, but most people outside the industry haven’t heard of them. Cutters • Utilize heat from an electric arc, plasma stream or burning gases to cut and trim metal objects to specific dimensions. • Cutters also take apart large objects, such as ships, railroad cars, boilers and aircraft using special high strength cutting materials. • Some cutters operate and monitor cutting machines in industrial settings. Solderers/Brazers • Use heat to join two or more metal objects together • Soldering and brazing are similar, except that the temperature used in soldering is lower. • Soldering is used to make electrical and electronic circuit boards, such as computer chips. • Brazing used to connect cast iron and thinner metals that would warp under the high temperature of welding. • Brazing also can be used to apply various coatings to parts to reduce wear and corrosion.

WHERE DO WELDERS WORK? As the most common and most permanent way of joining pieces together, welding is a trade that performs work as a stand-alone component of larger projects or is used within another trade. Plumbers are generally trained in the basics of welding in order to perform pipefitting tasks. Other industries use welding as part of their overall operations including body shops, sheet metal, shipyards and boiler making operations. A welder may work on a building or bridge construction site (either indoors or outdoors) which exposes them to working in all kinds of weather. They may also be required to work several stories above the ground on steel building structures or bridges. Other welders work in a metal shop or garage-like area which is generally climate controlled. Still other welders work in a factory or industrial setting where they handle maintenance and fabrication tasks as they come up. Welders generally work full time and it’s not uncommon for them to work a lot of overtime to stay ahead of production schedules, particularly in construction. In some industrial settings, welders may be employed on overnight shifts. Welding tools and materials present a number of dangers that all welders have to take seriously. Protective equipment such as welder’s masks, apron and gloves are essential Proper ventilation must be maintained at all times Welding gases must also be carefully regulated to ensure safe operation.

WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were just under 4,500 welder jobs in Arkansas in 2014 and the industry is expected to grow at a healthy pace. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts by 2024, the number of welder jobs in Arkansas will grow seven percent, which is nearly double the national average. Some welders move from construction job to construction job, meaning a general slowdown in building projects can mean periods of unemployment. The more mobile a welder is the more easily he or she may find additional projects. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower Range (bottom 10%) ­— $24,840 annually/$11.94 per hour • Middle Range (median) ­— $35,310 annually/$16.97 per hour • Higher Range (top 10%) ­— $56,400 annually/$27.11 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? Physical Strength and Dexterity • Arm-hand steadiness and coordination. • Ability to lift heavy raw materials and equipment. • Stamina to work under the weight of protective gear, standing or bending for long periods. Vision • Good near-vision is important to see details upd close. Attention to Detail • Noticing when problems happen. • Taking quick corrective action. HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Some high schools have beginner welding programs as part of automotive or shop classes, which can give students a head start on their education. Most welders have a high school diploma or equivalent and a professional certification, which can be earned through a community college, a private training program or welding courses sponsored by industry groups or trade unions.

Welding programs can be a few months long or they can be an apprenticeship lasting four or five years. They can be full-time classes like any other college curriculum or, in the case of many apprenticeship-type training programs, are held one or two nights a week while the student works full-time for a welding company, thereby also learning on the job. Another advantage of the work-study nature of apprenticeship programs is most employers pay for the training as an employee benefit. WELDING APPRENTICESHIP & EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The following is a sample of some of the welding training and apprenticeship programs in Arkansas. For more training programs, please visit.beprobeproud. com, Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship Training of Arkansas, El Dorado (additional locations in Van Buren and Little Rock), 870-863-6169, Arkansas Welding Academy, Jacksonville, 501-982-9353, Black River Technical College, Paragould (additional location in Pocahontas), 870-239-0969, Arkansas Tech University, Ozark, 866225-2884, Northwest Technical Institute, Springdale, 479-751-8824, University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology, Crossett, 870364-6414, Phillips Community College, University of Arkansas, Dewitt (additional locations in Stuttgart and Helena-West Helena) 870-946-3506,

BLUEPRINT | 2017 | 61

Lindsay Gillihan, project manager at Nabholz Environmental Services.


Women take charge in skilled professions

auren Shannon is a woman used to walking her own path, especially when it comes to her career choices. After all, it’s not many 26-year-olds who can list Ringling Brothers Circus on a resume. But her latest venture­—electrician­—even rivals the circus in terms of the reaction she gets at times. “When I joined the company I work for now I got weird stares the day I showed up,” Shannon said. “They were like, ‘Oh, there’s a woman?’ Some people can be skeptical. Some people will just make assumptions. Some people didn’t care at all. They’re like ‘Hey, you’re a good worker. You’re cool. I like you.’” Shannon, a first-year electrical apprentice, is still an oddity in the skilled professions and not just in Arkansas. According to American Community Survey, less than 10 percent of women nationally held jobs in construction, manufacturing or transportation/communication in 2013. In Arkansas, 1.5 percent of employed women worked in construction, 8.9 percent in manufacturing and 3 percent worked in transportation/communication in 2013. As tiny as each of those percentages are, they actually ranked Arkansas 13th, 6th and 18th nationally, respectively, illustrating how scarce women are in skilled positions. Not surprisingly, Shannon is the only woman in her apprenticeship class and on most jobsites— where her employer Long Electric of Jonesboro does work. She said focusing on doing the job well and having confidence are key. “Going into a mostly men’s field, don’t allow yourself to be intimidated,” she said. “Being a woman, you might catch them off guard but go in knowing, ‘Hey I’ve got this.’” Lindsay Gillihan, project manager of Nabholz Environmental Services in Little Rock, said even though women in skilled jobs are still vastly outnumbered, there are signs of change. “I think there are tremendous opportunities for women in this field, whereas maybe 30 or 40 years ago, it would be very taboo to see a woman walk onto a jobsite in a hardhat swinging a hammer,” she said. “It’s way more common and more socially accepted now. If somebody knows what they want to do, the opportunity is there.” Gillihan said she’s had her share of negative encounters with male peers, but as with any job, you learn how to handle negative people. “For the most part, this industry is about doing a good job and getting a job done,” she said. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, as long as you’re doing your best job and the job gets done safely.” Alicia Mouton has spent 23 years in the U.S. Air Force, working in allied health. She said the military is no different than civilian society in terms of gender issues in the workplace. “Obviously it’s out there,” she said. “I would say if you don’t have that thick skin then that might not be the path that you want to go down because it’s hard. Even being in 23 years, I have bad days. There’s a lot going on at once. I don’t know if the 19-year-old me could have handled the situation I’m in now with the responsibility that I have.” “It’s all about [womens’] confidence and what motivates them. I think the Air Force does a really good job with the rank and responsibility that they give you because they start you off with little bits and pieces and then as you grow and put the rank on, you’re given more responsibilities.” Opportunities for women aren’t limited by age, either. After years working in the trades, Hilda Cox earned her construction management degree in her 50s, and in 2011 launched C & C Mechanical in Monticello, a plumbing company. She’s also been a member of the National Association of Women in Construction for 24 years and said the group was a valuable source of support. “I think a woman still has to prove herself in the construction industry,” she said. “Some people may disagree on this, but I think a whole lot of that depends on how the person carries and perceives herself.” Cox has seen slow improvement in the number of women in construction, more in the management ranks than front-line workers. She said there’s no secret to success in this business, just working hard and bringing your best every day. “There are two types of women who work in the construction industry—women who work in the industry and women in construction,” she said. “Those who work in the industry do their job and that’s it, they don’t care about learning more. Women in construction have to continually be willing to learn new methods, new techniques. They need good communication skills, good math skills and good logic. There’s no class you can take to give you logic.” 62


ASHLEY KROLL Age: 25 Education: Arkansas Northeastern College, Blytheville Job: Training coordinator/safety person, Nucor-Yamato Steel, Blytheville Snapshot: Started with Nucor-Yamato as an intern. My professional goals include advancing to management. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM? I was undecided with what I wanted to do in college and a Nucor engineer came and spoke to my high school physics class. She did a presentation on Nucor and introduced us to the internship program they were offering. I became interested after that and I applied for it. WHAT DID YOU DO AS PART OF THAT INTERNSHIP? I worked in production out on the floor with the floor guys. I operated all the equipment, I ran the mill stands, I ran the hot saws, the straightener. I operated forklifts, I operated overheard cranes. Pretty much the internship gave us the opportunity to rotate departments, and we got exposure to all the different areas to see what we were interested in doing. WERE THERE MANY WOMEN IN YOUR INTERNSHIP CLASS? No, I was the only female going through my college classes and the internship. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? It was very intimidating. I was 18, fresh out of high school and it was kind of a scary place. But once you start learning your way around and operating the machines you get comfortable working around it, and you learn how to operate safely. WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST? What I love about Nucor is there’s so many different job opportunities out here. You’re not tied down to just one thing. If you wanted to pursue a career in engineering, you have that opportunity. If you wanted to operate a lathe, you can do that. It’s just an endless opportunity of what you can do. WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE? I am helping to build a whole new training program because our current training program is outdated. On the backside of that, I’m helping to start this new program where I coordinate with our trainers to get crane training and forklift training. You name it, we’re going to get these guys out here trained on it.

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Blueprint | Issue No. 1 | 2017  
Blueprint | Issue No. 1 | 2017