BUILD YOUR CAREER
IN THE WORLD OF INDUSTRY AND MANUFACTURING
Meet the female line worker who's zapping stereotypes on page 22.
UNION APPRENTICESHIPS TRAINING PROGRAMS ADVICE FROM PEERS AND PROS 2022 BLUEPRINT | 2022 | arktimes.com 1
Looking for more information on other educational and career opportunities in Arkansas?
For over 30 years Arkansas Times has published the College Guide in August and the Nurses Guide in September of every year. The goal of both of these pubs is to easily break down the educational opportunities in all the four and two year colleges in the state and explain the career and educational opportunities.
Find the 2021 College and Nurses Guide online at arktimes.com/special-publications Copies of the 2021 guides can be sent upon request. And plans for the 2022 issues will be available in the summer of 2022. For more information contact Phyllis Britton, email@example.com or call 501.492.3994 2
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
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LITTLE ROCK WATER RECLAMATION AUTHORITY
FUELING TECHNICAL CAREERS Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority strives to promote growth in technical career fields. We provide our team with training to improve their skills in plumbing, mechanics, electrical, HVAC maintenance, and more. These opportunities strengthen our team and reinforce our efforts to protect public health and the environment while helping our city thrive.
CHAROLETTE KEY Billing/Collections JACKSON GLADDEN Circulation Director
For more information on employment opportunities visit lrwra.com/careers
11 CLEARWATER DR. LITTLE ROCK, AR 72204
501. 376. 2903
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | arktimes.com 3
IN THIS ISSUE 5 Welcome 6 School Work 10 UA Pulaski Tech Get Graduates’ Careers Moving 12 Unions Provide Training and Opportunity for Millions 16 Arkansas Northeastern College 17 Black River Technical College Offers Training From Traditional To Unique 18 Technical Career Information 20 Apprenticeship Guide 21 Marine Tech Program Pays Off for National Park Students 22 Arkansas Woman Makes History 26 Companies, Organizations Get Creative in Workforce Development 30 Manufacturing Technology Abounds at North Arkansas College THE PROFESSIONS
37 Computer Coder/Programmer 31 Agri-Timber 32 Allied Health Professions 38 Diesel Technician 39 Electrician 33 Aviation Technology 40 Heavy Equipment Operator 34 CAD/CAM Drafter 41 HVACR Technician 35 Carpenter 36 CNC Operators/Programers
42 Industrial Maintenance 43 Machinist 44 Plumber 45 Process Technology 46 Truck Driver 47 Welder
Individual job information, descriptions and state job growth and salary projections per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and careeronestop.org, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
Dear Reader: As I write this, the pandemic is approaching its two-year anniversary of arriving in Arkansas. Since March 2020, we have weathered quarantine, social distancing, seen the rise of two variants and the development of three vaccines and associated boosters. We’ve been through a lot and we’re still not done yet. One area of society that has been hit particularly hard during COVID has been our construction and manufacturing industries. These companies were struggling to attract people into skilled careers even before the pandemic and the situation has only become more serious since. Now, as the economy tries to gain traction and our nation’s infrastructure requires attention, skilled workers are in higher demand than ever. BLUEPRINT was created to help address this situation, providing relevant, up-to-date and factual information about skilled careers from training options to pay scales to real-life stories of those on the job every day. We’re proud to say we’ve become a respected source of information on lucrative and fulfilling careers from welding and carpentry to electrical work and mechatronics. Whether you are a high schooler pondering your future, or a displaced or furloughed worker looking for a fresh start, there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for in a skilled job. And as you build your career, you will earn the satisfaction of knowing you’re also rebuilding America’s strength and might. Thank you for picking up BLUEPRINT!
Alan Leveritt Publisher Arkansas Times/BLUEPRINT Magazine
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School Work Programs Offer Unique Curriculums to Meet Labor Needs
n 2019, Forbes magazine announced the alarming news: “America is facing an unprecedented skilled labor shortage.” “According to the Department of Labor, the U.S. economy had 7.6 million unfilled jobs, but only 6.5 million people were looking for work as of January 2019,” the article went on. “It is more apparent than ever that our country is suffering because of it.” Turns out, the nation hadn’t seen anything yet. One year later, COVID-19 landed on American shores and a labor market that had grown increasingly sick for a decade flatlined altogether. And a year after that, things are still struggling to get back on track. But chaos and difficulty often produce innovation, and such is the case with Arkansas’s educational system. Across the state, several school systems are taking a comprehensive approach to meeting the labor needs of the community. The best of these programs are not the one-shop-class-a-week approach of the past, but regular, daily instruction that partners with local community colleges and industry, starting in junior high and even elementary school. The result? More Arkansas students are graduating, or will graduate high school, ready to walk into a waiting job or with some or all of their college training already completed, saving families thousands in tuition. Here’s a snapshot of three such programs that are among the leaders of the new skilled labor movement in Arkansas.
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
VILONIA PATHWAYS ACADEMY
The 2021-22 school year was a landmark one in the Vilonia School District as it marked the beginning of the Vilonia Pathways Academy, a charter school focusing on careers and technical training eight years in the making. “To my knowledge, no other program like this exists in Arkansas,” said Cathy Riggins, a career educator and administrator who came up with the idea for the K-12 academy. “We feel like this is the model for workforce education. That’s the whole purpose. “We need workers; for every four that are retiring there is only one entering the industry, research states. And we feel like we can produce those workers.” VPA was founded to meet two objectives: provide career education for students who didn’t want to attend a four-year college or university, and back that up with skills training that can be put to work immediately on the job site of the student’s choice. “A lot of times in education, we look at standards when what we should look at is industry and ask them, ‘What do you need?’” Riggins said. “At some point, I realized I was thinking in a traditional mindset of a shop model, and it was not a shop model that we needed. “When you think about construction, a lot of people think it’s shovel and pick, but the industry is high-tech these days. There’s so much students are not aware of, and they need exposure to that.” The more she talked to local construction companies, the bigger Riggins’ idea became until finally a charter school concept was outlined. At every grade level, from kindergarten on up, career and work skills are woven into the day, even in the core subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic. “It’s putting things into context for even young children,” said Dr. Hank Bray, chairman of UA Little Rock’s Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering, and a key partner in the academy. “When [students] learn to read, they learn to read about building projects, buildings and highways instead of other types of stories. “When they learn math and science, it’s the same concept with word problems like, ‘What’s the distance from here to here on this set of plans?’ There’s constant exposure to the trades through this program and students are able to keep their options open.” In ninth grade, students choose either a college track curriculum — which dovetails into UA Little Rock’s construction management program, cutting college time in half — or a work track that provides training and allows students to earn various certificates needed to enter their chosen field. “If they want to, they can graduate from high school with an associate’s degree,” Bray said. “Everything they take in high school would count towards their bachelor’s degree.”
AGE: 14 EDUCATION: Freshman, Vilonia Pathways Academy SNAPSHOT: Stacy decided to give Vilonia Pathways Academy a try as a way to jump-start her career after graduation. DID YOU HAVE ANY TECHNICAL SKILL BACKGROUND BEFORE GETTING INTO THE ACADEMY? I didn’t have technical skills, but my dad worked in the construction industry for a while and my mom designed the house that we have lived in. I decided to attend the Vilonia Pathways Academy because I want to be an interior designer, and the construction courses will help me have a better understanding of that world. HOW WELL HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIVED UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS? I was nervous about being in the first group in this new program, but as the year has gone on I have become a lot more used to it. HOW HAVE INSTRUCTORS HELPED YOU CONNECT THE DOTS ON YOUR CAREER PLANS? I have learned a lot about different tools, and I learned a lot about what I would need to do to be an interior designer after a trip to UA Little Rock. I am looking forward to learning more about interior design and art classes that will help me. I’m excited about that. A lot of the activities we do is going to visit job sites and seeing how all that works. I believe having an understanding of that will help me when I get a job. WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST HELPFUL THING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE? I wanted to meet with people who are experts in whatever they do. VPA has given me that opportunity and it has taught me a lot.
MOUNTAIN HOME HIGH SCHOOL PATHWAYS
For years, career academies have been as much a part of Mountain Home High School as the football team, drama program or the library, helping students plot their next steps after graduation. Now, the process of career discernment and training is undergoing a radical makeover. Called Pathways, it stretches down to the earliest grades in the system, allowing students to get on the path that best ensures their success after graduation. Currently, there are three academies: agriculture, construction, manufacturing and engineering (ACME); health and human services (HHS); and communication, arts and business (CAB), of which students can attend just one or sample all three during their high school career. Pathways will begin the process much earlier, dividing the process into four broad categories: awareness, exposure, exploration and experience. At each level, students are given age-appropriate opportunities to consider their talents and interests and how those fit into the working world, with education as the key common denominator. “Pathways really focuses on career-connected learning that spans grades K-12 and into the post-secondary transition,” said Dr. Dana Brown, assistant superintendent of administrative services and former principal of MHHS. “For example, in grades K-5, teachers focus on career awareness by enhancing their current curriculum. When the local fire department does the fire safety unit in kindergarten through fifth grade, teachers can identify and build excitement for careers that tie with that topic. Students then
FOUR FAST FACTS
COMPUTER CODER/PROGRAMMER • Computers rule the world, therefore demand is high in any number of industries. • Training options abound, from on-the-job to concurrent classes while in high school. • Positions range from diagnostics to writing programs and apps to cybersecurity. • Field presents good opportunities for entrepreneurship. INTERESTED? See Page 37 for more.
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begin to see a connection between careers and school.” What makes the project work is the participation of local companies and volunteers who provide internships, mentoring and visit school as speakers on various topics. All with the same goal — to get students into a track that best serves their goals and interests, whether that be a four-year degree or not. “When we started out, there was still a push for students across the board to attend four-year schools,” said Owen Carpenter, shop teacher. “Even today there’s still the students who say, ‘I don’t know what I want to do. I’m just going to go to college to get my basics.’ I cringe when I hear that. I want to tell them you might as well just start throwing $100 bills at me instead of out the window because that’s what you’re doing. “Our program here checks all the boxes as far as forming relationships between core classes and career and tech. Four-year schools aren’t for everybody, and this program has helped us shift some students to trades and technical schools, apprenticeships and sometimes just directly into work. We always push some sort of post-secondary training.”
HOMETOWN: Alpena EDUCATION: North Arkansas College SNAPSHOT: Tyler discovered manufacturing automation while still in high school and found the perfect education partner in North Arkansas College in Harrison to pursue his career goals.
WHAT ARE YOU STUDYING AT NORTHARK? I’m in the automation and systems integration program with an emphasis in manufacturing. I’m studying here at NorthArk to become a manufacturing technician. WHAT DOES A MANUFACTURING TECHNICIAN DO ON THE JOB ON A DAILY BASIS? That job includes a lot of automation in manufacturing equipment like programming robots and programming CNC mills and lathes. NorthArk gives me a lot of hands-on experience here with great manufacturing equipment that is used in the industry every day. HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THIS CAREER PATH? When I was in high school, I heard about this program so I came to the manufacturing program and got introduced to all the equipment that way. Then when I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to go into the Army Reserves. Once I finished initial training, I came back here and began my two-year degree. All throughout the program, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS IN THIS LINE OF WORK? This program has been the first step to get my bachelor’s degree. Through this I was able to get an internship locally through Pace Industries, where I got a lot of hands-on experience with their manufacturing equipment. It’s given me a really great head start on my future.
Fort Smith has a proud history in manufacturing, so it is probably no surprise that the technical and skilled training there is so well-coordinated between the public school system, local industry and higher education. The anchor for skilled jobs training there is the Western Arkansas Technical Center, one of nearly 30 secondary technical centers in the state. “Our program is hosted by UA Fort Smith and it started in 1998,” said Amanda Seidenzahl, center director. “The premise of the secondary technical center is to be a partner in providing career and technical education. We have 22 school districts we work with. These programs would be very costly for the school districts to absorb and offer by themselves. “Students spend half their day in high school and half their day here. Many of the schools we work with start in the ninth- and 10th-grade years, and now they’re really dropping down into the lower grades, to create a pathway for students to choose to begin the programs that we offer here as juniors and seniors.” Fort Smith also offers the PEAK Center, a new learning facility focusing on advanced manufacturing, health care sciences, visual arts and information technology. PEAK is projected to more than double the number of career-ready graduates available by 2023, as well as serve local companies by training their employees. Both PEAK and WATC maintain close ties to local industry to ensure training programs are developing the skills and knowledge base in demand in the area. Currently, WATC offers 11 programs, a list that can change based on feedback from the business community. All programs also stress the importance of soft skills. “That’s an expectation that our faculties set for them,” Seidenzahl said. “We really talk with them about the employer side of it as they prepare for their career. Teamwork is embedded, conflict resolution is embedded. It gives them that foundation to be a good employee.” Seidenzahl said all of these resources are having a marked impact on the high school student population as more and more are considering a technical career after high school. “We still have the ones where this career path was maybe a last-minute decision. When they get in here, we give them an opportunity to determine if these careers are for them or not for them,” she said. “But more students are very focused and very driven today, because they were exposed to opportunities and pathways at a lower grade level. They’ve toured manufacturing facilities or maybe an IT company and they know what that looks like. More and more, they know what they want.”
FOUR FAST FACTS
CNC CODER/OPERATOR • Run computer-controlled precision machinery to formulate parts or components. • In high demand in manufacturing, especially advanced manufacturing operations. • Median annual salary is almost $60,000 in Arkansas. • High tech meets old fashioned craftsmanship. INTERESTED? See Page 36 for more. 8
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
g to prepare you for a are proud to support ower your potential.
Powering your potential. At Entergy Arkansas, we believe students like you are the key to a brighter future. That’s why we invest in world-class training to prepare you for a successful career. We are proud to support initiatives that help power your potential.
Powering your potential. Powering your potential.
At Entergy Arkansas, we believe students like you are the key to a brighter future. That’s why we invest in world-class training to prepare you for a BRADLEY ROBERTS At Entergy Arkansas, we believe students likecareer. you We are proud to support successful AGE: 24 are the key to a brighter future. That’s why we invest initiatives that help power your potential. JOB TITLE: Environmental Sampling Technician in world-class training to prepare you for a COMPANY: Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority successful career. We are proud to support SNAPSHOT: A native of East End, Roberts has found a home with LRWRA, initiatives help power your potential. where he and his co-workers ensure safe, reliable water servicethat for clients. WHAT ARE SOME SKILLS AND ATTRIBUTES THAT ARE CRITICAL FOR SOMEONE IN THIS JOB? Technical skill-wise, being proficient with computers and having a basic understanding in all the Microsoft programs is key. From a personality standpoint, being able to keep up with the workload and remembering tasks, being reliable and showing up every day are all critical attributes. In my role specifically, you have to pay attention to detail, being careful not to contaminate any samples when doing certain testing. That’s even when you have to be out in the weather collecting samples, which can make the job a little more difficult.
Ready For Life
Powering your potential. Ready For Life Ready Academies of For Life Central Arkansas Customize your path. At Entergy Arkansas, wecareer believe students like you Prepare for college, are the key to a brighter future. That’s why we invest career and life. in world-class training to prepare you for a successful career. We are proud to support initiatives that help power your potential.
Become a certified pow line worker.
Customize your career path.
Academies of Central Arkansas
Set yourself up for success with training, guidance and preparation. Together, we power life.
Customize your career path.
Prepare for college, career and life. Set yourself up for success with trainin Together, we power life. A message from Entergy Arkansas, LLC ©2021 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
WHAT BASIC AND ONGOING TRAINING DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO PERFORM THIS JOB? LRWRA is very good at letting employees know about all the extra training, job opportunities and other programs. With my job, I worked with my supervisor during the training until I was ready to move on with the job by myself.
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Academies of H-Volt Academy Readyguidance For Life Academies of Set yourself up for success with training, and preparation. Central Arkansas Become a certified power Central Arkansas Together, we power life.
IN ADDITION TO TECHNICAL SKILLS, WHAT SOFT SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT FOR SUCCESS IN YOUR ROLE? Working as a group is very important, from cleaning up from the last sampling to helping out with all the paperwork involved. That makes the job go smoother. Helping each other with everyday tasks also builds good relationships and produces a good work ethic. Ready I learned that ForhelpLife ing out my co-workers with daily work translates into them helping me Customize your career path. out in return.
Prepare for college, career and life.
Customize your career path.
for college, Academiesline of worker.Prepare H-Volt Academy career and life. Central Arkansas Ready For Life Academies of Become a certifi H-VoltedAcademy power A message from
Central Arkansas line worker. Become a certified power for college, line worker. Prepare for college, career and life. career and life. Set yourself up for success with training, guidance and preparation. Together, we power life.
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WHAT WOULD YOU WANT SOMEONE TO KNOW ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION AS FAR AS BUILDING A CAREER THERE? The pay and hours here are good; every year, we are implementing new technology to help complete the job more efficiently. LRWRA has great Set yourself up for success with training, guidance and preparation. yourself uphelps for success with training, guidance and preparation. benefits that come along with the job, and theSet company really you Together, we power A message fromlife. Entergy Arkansas, LLC ©2021 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Together, we power life. 16629-1 EAL ABPG Print Ad | Layout_8.625x11.125_FINAL.indd 1 have a good retirement plan.
ess withAstraining, guidance and preparation. far as how to succeed here, just have a good work ethic and be willing to do more than is expected. Have an open mind on any situation you help with. You also have to get your ideas across in email and face-to-face conversations as a daily task, so be a good communicator.
A message from Entergy Arkansas, LLC ©2021 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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UA Pulaski Tech get graduates’ careers moving
niversity of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College has always been known as a leader in skilled professions training, providing the kind of education and training that moves graduates from the classroom to the skilled workforce quickly. The college’s transportation programs are the latest in this long line of cutting-edge coursework, preparing students for high-paying careers in high demand. From training to be a professional over-the-road truck driver to automotive technology and collision repair to diesel engine technology, UA Pulaski Technical College graduates are at the forefront of what moves people and products from one end of the nation to the other. More critical now than ever during the supply chain problems brought on by global COVID, transportation technology professionals command top dollar throughout the state and across the nation. According to the Department of Labor, there were nearly 38,000 truck-driving jobs in Arkansas (paying a median annual salary of $44,000), many of which are unfilled due to the retirement of older drivers and a lack of new ones coming up. Keeping all of those rigs on the road were nearly 4,000 diesel mechanic jobs in the state (paying a median annual salary of $41,000). Equally important are auto mechanics and collision repair specialists, both of which are capably trained through UA Pulaski Technical College’s state-of-the-art facilities and instruction. Arkansas has nearly 7,000 auto mechanic jobs and almost 1,800 collision repair jobs, per the Department of Labor, both of which are expected to grow faster than the national average over the next decade. Median annual salaries in these fields are $38,000 and $40,000, respectively, and are trade skills that offer excellent opportunities for opening one’s own business. Each of UA Pulaski Technical College’s educational programs is recognized and/or certified by leading industry training groups and kept current by regular consultation with area businesses to ensure skills are marketable and of the highest academic rigor. Classes are held at the college’s sprawling Transportation Technology Center on UA Pulaski Technical College’s south campus, between Little Rock and Alexander.
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
FOUR FAST FACTS
ELECTRICIAN • Highly versatile career that’s always in demand in multiple industries. • Demand for electricians predicted to grow by double digits in Arkansas. • Journeyman electricians earn good wages; master electricians earn more and start their own company. • Study in the classroom or on the job through apprenticeships. INTERESTED? See Page 39 for more.
AGE: 45 EDUCATION: Arkansas Northeastern College construction program SNAPSHOT: A major life change put Roach-Love at a career crossroads. She decided to take hold of her future and train for a career that made her happy.
Manufacturing is another area of emphasis, as UA Pulaski Technical College prepares future workers to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s industrial workplace. Welding, machine tool and HVACR courses have been the bedrock of instruction at the college for generations, but UA Pulaski Technical College is equally robust in programs that look to the future of the skilled professions. Two programs — automated manufacturing systems and computer numerical control (CNC) — are in particularly high demand. The automated manufacturing systems program teaches students the latest high-tech control systems and automated machinery, including industrial electronics service, industrial controls programming, manufacturing equipment repair, machinery installation and robotics service. The college’s CNC instruction is within the drafting and design program, a broad-based degree and certificate program, integrating technical and general education courses applicable in architectural, electrical, HVACR, plumbing and structural industries. Both of these skilled career programs are offered in an associate of applied science degree program as well as a technical certificate and are stackable and transferable with other degree programs throughout the University of Arkansas system for those students wishing to attain higher degree completion in any number of exciting and in-demand construction specialties and fields. All instruction for these industrial and manufacturing degrees is delivered via a combination of in-depth classroom work and UA Pulaski Tech’s state-of-the-art labs, featuring the latest equipment and workplace technology. For more information on these and UA Pulaski Technical College’s other high-quality educational programs, please visit uaptc.edu.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CAREER SO FAR? Before I enrolled, I was a janitor at Arkansas Northeastern College for five years and I’ve worked in factories before. When my husband and I separated, I just could not see myself going back behind a cash register in a store for eight hours. That’s just not me. I started doing construction, like helping remodel and paint. I just love working with my hands, and I’ve been doing carpentry design for about 10 years now. GIVEN THAT EXPERIENCE, WHY GO BACK TO SCHOOL VERSUS LEARNING ON THE JOB? Considering that I’m going into construction, which is a man’s world, and I’m only 4 feet 11-some inches tall, people look at me when I tell them that I can do this and I can do that, and I get that eye like, “Yeah, OK.” So, going back to school gave me the paper so I can say, “I’ve got the paperwork to prove that I can do this.” WHAT DID YOUR COURSEWORK INCLUDE? We poured concrete. We built a wall, like a regular wall. And then we had to frame in a window, frame in a door, build an archway. We did a gable roof, we did a hip roof, all on a small scale. We did one of those tables with the epoxy and the resin and it went for $3,000 at auction. I was quite impressed with it, myself. We learned when you’re building a house how to build the perimeter around the footings and all that. Just the basics of building a house, the sheetrock and stuff like that that you have to know. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? Right now, I’m going to rebuild my house. I’m replacing windows and sheetrock and just slowly putting myself back together. It’s like therapy to me. I also start my HVAC class soon. Not only will that teach me the heat-and-air side, but it teaches you somewhat about electricity. There is always a demand for this. There is always money to be made. They told us a first-year graduate of the program can start at $57,000 a year. I don’t know how people would not know that these positions are available, because you go by areas and houses aren’t being built. They don’t have the workers to build them. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR A YOUNG PERSON CHOOSING A CAREER OR AN ADULT FACING A BIG LIFE CHANGE? Don’t let your gender hold you back. Don’t always depend on what you have planned because God has other plans for you. Do what makes you happy, that’s the main thing. Find something that makes you happy and go for it. BLUEPRINT | 2022 | arktimes.com 11
Unions Provide Training and Opportunity for Millions
rade unions play a vital role in the development of new workers while providing for their members’ health and welfare on the job. These longstanding groups work to prepare the next generation of craftsmen and women and help them provide for their families. There are some real differences between union training and other kinds of skilled career training. Union training, called an apprenticeship, combines classroom training with on-the-job learning. Apprentices work their day jobs and attend school a couple of times per week, the actual schedule of which varies from trade to trade. With today’s skilled jobs being more sophisticated than ever, training has had to keep pace. And that’s just what you find with union apprenticeship programs, which cover a range of skills in demand in the workplace. Union welding programs, for instance, commonly certify members in different kinds of welding — 2G, 3G, stick, MIG and TIG — versus schools that award a certificate in just one. Union apprenticeships can take up to four or five years to complete, after which the worker is a certified journeyman in their trade. Apprenticeships are offered by virtually every union today to provide industry-specific training at no charge to members, be it the rank beginner or continuing education for longtime members. According to Tanif Crotts, head of the Arkansas Building & Trades Council, union training programs are cutting edge, embracing the latest in workplace technology by trade. “Union employees work in some of the most advanced manufacturing and industrial jobs there are, and union training has kept up with that to keep our members in demand,” he said. “One fast-growing area of union training is mechatronics, which includes the setup, installation and operation of robotic arms. This technology is commonly in use in automotive
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
manufacturing and assembly. Another recent area of training has been laser alignment in tooling, something local unions added to their curriculum as soon as the technology hit the market.” Another advantage to union training programs is it employs a “learn more, earn more” mentality. Within unions, apprentices are more than just students — they are full-time employees within their chosen field, earning a paycheck while they perfect their craft. As apprentices move through training programs, they’re typically rewarded with pay raises for classroom performance, hours worked and proficiency. An apprentice may start at 70% of the journeyman’s wage, then increase to 80% the second year, 90% the third year and reach full pay at graduation. Specialists are hired at even higher wages due to the additional training they have, often earned in a year or less. Once at full pay and with the qualifying number of work hours, a union journeyman also receives robust benefits, including health benefits for the worker and the worker’s family. Actual benefits, pay percentages and timelines vary from union to union. And, as any union member will tell you, being in a union doesn’t just pay dividends while on the job. Labor unions look out for their members and they have each other’s backs in times of difficulty, Crotts said. “A union’s responsibility doesn’t end when a member completes an apprenticeship,” he said. “Our larger role has been to stand up for better working conditions and higher pay, things that individual workers could not attain on their own. Organizing and speaking as one have given American workers much more power and say-so over their professions and their futures. “Locally, unions support members in other ways, acting as a resource for jobs or helping a family where a member has been injured on the job. Many of our members say being part of such a brotherhood is one of the most appealing things about being a union member.”
UNIONS AT A GLANCE Americans overwhelmingly support unions. The pandemic and growing wealth disparity have made more Americans take a second look at union membership. NPR reported in January 2021 that 65 percent of all Americans approved of unions, and a 2018 study from MIT showed half of nonunion workers surveyed would join a union if they could, a potential membership bump of some 58 million workers. Unions are more diverse than ever. In 2017, the percent of the male workforce in unions was roughly equal to the female workforce, a big jump from 1979 when men were more than twice as likely as women to be union members and made up 69 percent of all union membership. Even more significant is the age of union workers — the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported total union membership grew by 262,000 in 2017 and of these, 76 percent were age 34 and under. Pay and benefits are better for union members. The ability to collectively bargain has driven up union wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that private industry union workers out-earned nonunion private industry workers by an average of about $4 an hour. Union workers are also more likely to have access to paid sick days and health insurance on the job than nonunion workers. Automotive union UAW reports only twothirds of nonunion workers have health insurance from work compared with 94 percent of union workers. And, 86 percent of unionized workers can take paid sick days to care for themselves or family members, compared with 72 percent of nonunion workers.
Helping Arkansas Children Since 1899
MethodistFamily.org BLUEPRINT | 2022 | arktimes.com 13
CENTRAL ARKANSAS BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL HEAT AND FROST INSULATORS Local 10 206 Ave Two SE Atkins, AR 72823 Jeramy McCoy, Business Agent (P) 479-307-1701 (F) 479-307-1702 (M) 479-641-0772 email@example.com INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF BOILERMAKERS UNION Local 69 4515 W. 61st St. Little Rock, AR 72209 Rodney Allison, Business Manager (P) 501-565-0059 (F) 501-556-0112 firstname.lastname@example.org boilermakers.org BRICKLAYERS AND ALLIED CRAFTWORKERS UNION Local 5 OK/AR 212 NE 27th St. Oklahoma City, OK 73105 Ed Navarro, President (P) 800-579-9555 (F) 405-528-0165 email@example.com baclocal5.com CARPENTERS UNION Local 690 3920 Wall St. Little Rock, AR 72209 William White (P) 501-568-2500 (F) 501-568-2522 firstname.lastname@example.org ubclocal690.com CARPENTERS UNION Local 1836 1407 S. Knoxville Ave. Russellville, AR 72801 (P) 479-968-1724 (F) 479-967-5878 Dewayne Young, Business Representative Jeremy Hughes, Business Representative email@example.com Jhughes@cscouncil.net centralS.carpenters.org INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS Local 295 7320 S. University Ave. Little Rock, AR 72209 Will French, Business Manager (W) 501-562-2244 (M) 501-291-9949 Ibew295.org 14
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INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS Local 1516 P.O. Box 577 Jonesboro, AR 72403 Kirk Douglas (P) 870-932-2114 (F) 870-932-6707 firstname.lastname@example.org ELEVATOR CONSTRUCTORS UNION Local 79 P.O. Box 2081 Little Rock, AR 72203 Mike Campbell, Business Manager (P) 501-944-6970 (F) 501-372-2172 email@example.com IRON WORKERS UNION Local 321 1315 W. Second St. Little Rock, AR 72201 Johnny Wilson, Business Manager (P) 501-374-3705 (M) 501-730-2607 LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA (LIUNA) Local 360 5 Colonial Square Clarksville, AR 72830 Tanif Crotts, Business Manager (P) 479-754-1015 (F) 479-647-3909 firstname.lastname@example.org INTERNATIONAL UNION OPERATING ENGINEERS Local 624 202 Katie St. Richland, MS 39218 Brett Daniels, Business Agent (P) 501-422-8109 email@example.com INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS & ALLIED TRADES District Council 80/Local 424 10112 Chicot Road, Suite 218 Little Rock, AR 72209 James McAlister, Business Representative (P) 501-353-2957 (M) 501-772-6885 firstname.lastname@example.org www.iupatdc80.org PLASTERERS & CEMENT MASONS UNION Local 908 815 Enterprise Cape Girardeau, MO 63701 Guy “Tom” Schwab, Business Manager (P) 573-334-2729 (F) 573-334-5451 email@example.com
PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS UNION Local 55 1223 W. Markham Little Rock, AR 72201 Ricky Jeu, Business Manager (P) 501-374-4943 (M) 501-529-3131 SMART SHEET METAL UNION Local 36 415 W. 12th St. Little Rock, AR 72202 Danny Graves, Business Manager (P) 501-372-5150 (M) 501-326-4777 smw361@sbcglobaI.net www.smart-local.org/smart-sheet-metal-local-36 UA LOCAL 669 Sprinkler Fitters P.O. Box 400 Abita Springs, LA 70420 Tony Cacioppo, Business Representative (P) 985-809-9788 (F) 985-809-7802 firstname.lastname@example.org sprinklerfitters669.org UNITED UNION OF ROOFERS, WATERPROOFERS & ALLIED WORKERS Local 20 6301 Rockhill Road, No. 420 Kansas City, MO 64131 Jim Hadel, Business Representative (P) 816-313-9420 (F) 816-313-9424 rooferslocal20.com UBC MILLWRIGHTS Local 216 1407 Knoxville Ave. Russellville, AR 72802 Matthew Nowling, Business Representative (P) 479-967-0639
FOUR FAST FACTS
HVAC-R • Stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. • Fast-growing, well-paying career in multiple industries. • Job growth in Arkansas at a whopping 18 percent. • Extremely high job security. INTERESTED? See Page 41 for more.
AGE: 27 JOB TITLE: Laboratory Technician I EMPLOYER: Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority SNAPSHOT: Looking for a way to apply his chemistry degree in a meaningful way, Velasco relocated from his native New Mexico to join LRWRA. WHAT PUT YOU ON THIS CAREER PATH? Back home on the Navajo reservation, we have this saying, “Tó éí ííná át’é,” which translates to “Water is sacred.” Our teachings instill a great respect for the environment, and coupled with my love for chemistry, I knew I wanted to work with water reclamation.
FOUR FAST FACTS
PLUMBER • Versatile skill set that’s always in demand, regardless of the economy. • Work in residential or commercial construction, as well as industrial applications. • Any pipe that moves liquid in a home, business or factory requires a plumber. • Learn your trade for free through a paid apprenticeship. INTERESTED? See Page 44 for more.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? While I love the work I do in the lab, I really enjoy the staff. Everyone from the lab, administration, to the sampling team has made me feel welcome. Our company is so diverse and inclusive and it makes me excited to see what our company is going to do next. WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT YOUR JOB? The most challenging part is time management, 100%. There are some days where the plant needs more tests/analysis performed, and with an already packed day it can seem overwhelming. However, with more experience I find myself feeling accomplished when I am able to persevere through even the busiest days. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT YOUR JOB? I really enjoy seeing how our treatment plant provides a necessary function to the growth of Little Rock. Many people don’t think about where their water goes once they’re done with it. Our plant reintroduces a limited resource back into the environment, residences and businesses that is necessary for growth and health. WHAT WOULD SURPRISE SOMEONE THE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB FIELD? What truly blew me away were the benefits with this company. Everyone you meet raves about them and as a testament there are so many people I’ve met with 15-plus years with this company. Something else I love is the opportunity for advancement. I’m thinking of going back to school to obtain my master's, and if there is a line of work dealing with your program, the company will reimburse some tuition. They make you feel like you’re taken care of and that’s hard to find nowadays. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO GO INTO THIS CAREER FIELD? It’s a little cliché, but go that extra mile. Work hard and sign up for those things that aren’t required like panels, commissions, etc. Your hard work will bleed into your routine and those “extra” responsibilities become networking opportunities. Learn as much as you can and get really good at what you do so when it’s time to learn something new, you’ll be that much better off.
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Arkansas Northeastern College
s a comprehensive, two-year state institution of higher education, Arkansas Northeastern College (anc.edu) offers in-demand programs and services while also offering the lowest tuition in the state. At ANC, preparing people for the workforce is a priority, and through its assortment of certificate and degree programs, students can train for highwage careers in less time. “I see a lot of renewed interest in career programs by students, and that has certainly made career technical education opportunities very popular,” said Dr. Jamie Frakes, dean of allied technologies. “A lot of students who are leaving high school have been told they need to go to the four-year university or the four-year college to succeed, and I think a lot of students and their families are recognizing that coming to a place like Arkansas Northeastern College is going to give them a leg up in their career pursuit by pursuing one of a variety of certificates that we offer. Students are recognizing that’s the path that they want to take and that that path provides a lot of opportunities. It’s exciting.” One such short-term, high-wage-earning program is construction technology. And, for a limited time, ANC’s one-semester program is being offered for free through the Ready For Life Grant. In addition to offering this curriculum at no cost, ANC will award those students completing the program a tool set valued at $250, giving them a great start in a new career. The program is free while funds last and it is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Graduates in this field have the opportunity to earn high wages with a short-term time investment. According to the 2019 Economic Security Report, ANC construction technology graduates earned an average of $57,769 in their first year of full-time work. ANC is also a leader in workforce training and education, and home to Arkansas’s only steel technology program. ANC graduates can earn between $70,000 and $100,000 in their first year on the job. To meet employment needs and to reach a wider audience, ANC has customized its two-year,
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nationally recognized steel technology program so the majority of material can now be completed online. After an initial two-week orientation, the remainder of the curriculum is available online until the final semester. The last 16 weeks of the program consist of live classes with paid internship possibilities. For those meeting eligibility criteria, financial aid is available for this program as well as assistance in finding residency. ANC is also home to a Federal Aviation Administration-approved aviation maintenance program where students can earn a one-semester certificate, one-year certificate or a two-year degree. Graduates of ANC’s aviation maintenance programs are prepared to take FAA exams required for certification. This field also offers exciting career opportunities with high wages. ANC’s aviation maintenance graduates are also highly sought for industrial maintenance jobs, providing additional employment opportunities. In response to students and families interested in a short course in developing small businesses, especially in the wake of COVID-19, ANC has reconfigured its AAS degree in office management to include a newly embedded certificate of proficiency in entrepreneurship. This one-semester program teaches students how to start, develop and be successful in their own small business ventures. The course covers business terminology, basic market analysis, business planning, local governmental requirements, sales tax reporting and basic financial management. “ANC is working to provide a variety of programs for our students, but also programs that help fill a need in our workforce,” ANC President Dr. James Shemwell said. “We love having our students at ANC, but our goal is to get them educated and/or trained and get them to work. They do not need to spend countless hours and extra money on fields of study that will not help them find good-paying, in-demand jobs. “We are interested in preparing our students to discover and be successful in careers that will better their lives.”
AGE: 18 EDUCATION: Senior, Vilonia Pathways Academy SNAPSHOT: Watson entered the program hoping to get a handle on his career. He plans to study construction management in the future. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO FOLLOW THE ACADEMY COURSE OF STUDY? I chose the academy so I could learn about jobs I am interested in. I was in some ag classes prior to this and I have a great-uncle who does electrical work, but before I started this program, I really didn’t know much about construction. I knew people had hammers and nails. I didn’t realize what went into each project. HOW HAS THIS CURRICULUM HELPED YOU DETERMINE THE COURSE OF YOUR FUTURE? The academy focuses on what I want to do with my life. In traditional school, everyone is taught the same thing. Pathways Academy is centered around what I want to do and the career I want to pursue. We go to job sites and visit with industry professionals and they help us see opportunities in the construction industry. This helps me because it gets me familiar with trades and all the options out there and helps me see exactly what I am interested in. WHAT TECHNICAL SKILLS ARE YOU LEARNING OR HAVE LEARNED THROUGH THIS PROGRAM? Since starting the program, I have learned about BIM (building information modeling) and how to draw a house. I have learned about footings and concrete, electrical, and all that goes into a plan. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER KIDS AS FAR AS SKILLED CAREERS ARE CONCERNED? I would tell them to be open-minded about their future and give the Vilonia Pathways Academy a try. I want students to know the academy is there to benefit them; it focuses on their interests. From my experience, the program has done everything it can to help me know what I want to do and get me in contact with the people who can help me.
Black River Technical College offers training from traditional to unique
irtually every two-year college offers some kind of technical training — after all, skilled careers are what most two-year schools were founded on. Black River Technical College in Pocahontas is no exception, offering a range of skilled training students can put to work in a variety of industries. But, in addition to the usual courses on welding, web design and allied health careers, Black River also stands out by offering a gunsmithing course, starting in 2020. One of only six college-based gunsmithing curriculums in the country, Black River is the only program in the U.S. to make law enforcement inclusion part of the coursework. As a result, students are lining up for the training, which requires certain qualifications and a background check to be accepted into the program. The curriculum is derived from major gun manufacturers, including Choate Machine and Tool, Remington, Sig Sauer and CZ-USA, by which students can attain an associate degree, technical certificate or certificate of proficiency. Black River offers other high-quality training, for those seeking a more traditional skilled career. Of particular note is machine tool technology, where students acquire fundamental and manual skills in the setup and operation of engine lathes, milling machines, grinders and other industrial equipment. Graduates can apply their skills in the machine trade as apprentice tool-and-die makers or machinists. Industrial maintenance is another popular option. The two-year program prepares workers by cross-training them in several areas of industrial applications, including classes that develop supervisory and leadership skills. Demand for these skills is particularly high; according to the Department of Labor, there were 1,100 such job in Arkansas in 2018 and that number is expected to grow 14% by 2028. Visit blackrivertech.org to learn more.
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Tech Career Education Guide for Community Colleges and Technical Institutes
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University of Arkansas Cossatot 870-584-4471 Campuses: De Queen, Ashdown, Nashville, Lockesburg
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Guide to Apprenticeship Programs for Technical Careers ELECTRICIAN
ARKANSAS COLLEGE OF ELECTRICITY Rogers 479-636-2633 ARKANSAS NORTHEASTERN COLLEGE Blytheville 870-838-2934
CENTRAL ARKANSAS APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING COMMITTEE Little Rock 501-231-6471
AEAP INC. (ANDERSON ELECTRIC) Pine Bluff 870-534-2672
ASU-HEBER SPRINGS ELECTRICAL PROGRAM Heber Springs 501-352-1384 B&D ELECTRICAL Stamps 870-533-4408 BLACK RIVER ELECTRICAL Paragould 870-239-0969 CABOT ELECTRICAL SCHOOL Conway 501-796-8925 CONWAY AREA APPRENTICESHIP Conway 501-450-4888 EL DORADO ELECTRICAL APPRENTICESHIP JATC El Dorado 870-639-3781 FIVE RIVERS PLUMBING/ POCAHONTAS ELECTRICAL Pocahontas 870-248-4180 FORT SMITH ELECTRICAL JATC Fort Smith 479-709-9604 FULMER ELECTRICAL TRAINING Conway 501-796-8925 IBEW/JATC Jonesboro
LITTLE ROCK ELECTRICAL JATC Little Rock 501-565-0768 MCGEHEE ELECTRICAL Elkins 870-222-3808 MCGREW SERVICE CO. Hot Springs 501-760-3440 NATIONAL PARK COLLEGE/QTI ELECTRICAL APPRENTICESHIP Hot Springs 501-767-9314 OTC ELECTRICAL Malvern 501-337-5000 RUSSELLVILLE APPRENTICESHIP – ELECTRIC Russellville 479-857-8105 SOUTH ARKANSAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE/ ELECTRICAL PROGRAM El Dorado 870-864-7193 UAM COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY Crossett 870-364-6414 VILONIA ELECTRICAL SCHOOL Conway 501-796-8925
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ASU-HEBER SPRINGS PLUMBING PROGRAM Heber Springs 501-250-5788
CONWAY AREA APPRENTICESHIP Conway 501-450-4888 FIVE RIVERS PLUMBING/ POCAHONTAS ELECTRICAL Pocahontas 870-248-4180 GARLAND COUNTY PLUMBING Hot Springs 501-623-4562
INDUSTRIAL & CONSTRUCTION
ARKANSAS CONSTRUCTION EDUCATION FOUNDATION (ACEF) Little Rock 501-372-1590 ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS (AGC) Little Rock 501-375-4436
NABHOLZ CONSTRUCTION CORP. Conway 501-505-5800
ARKANSAS SHEET METAL WORKS JATC Little Rock 501-372-5150
JONESBORO AREA PLUMBING ASSOCIATION (JAPA) Jonesboro 870-974-1205
JATC OF ARKANSAS Little Rock 501-372-5150
NCA PLUMBING/TWIN LAKES PLUMBING INC. Mountain Home 870-425-6298
NORTHWEST TECHNICAL INSTITUTE/NWA PLUMBING SCHOOL Springdale 479-790-4623 NWACC - WESTERN ARKANSAS APPRENTICESHIP Bentonville 479-986-4084 PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING OF AR Little Rock 501-562-4482 RICH MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE/PLUMBING PROGRAM Mena 479-394-7622 SOUTH ARKANSAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE/ PLUMBING PROGRAM El Dorado 870-862-8131 SOUTHEAST ARKANSAS PLUMBING/ ROGERS PLUMBING Monticello 870-793-5253 WHITE RIVER PLUMBING/BINGHAM ENTERPRISES Sulphur Rock 870-793-5253
INTERNATIONAL UNION PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES LOCAL 424 Little Rock 501-353-2957
NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING FOUNDATION Arkadelphia 870-246-0320 UA FACILITIES MANAGEMENT Fayetteville 479-575-5470
Marine tech program pays off for National Park students
ational Park College of Hot Springs’ marine technology program prepares students to serve a growing demand in the boat marketplace. “It’s a degree that’s in demand in our state and nationwide,” said Delmar “Dino” Hunter, marine technology instructor. “We get phone calls from all over the region, from Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas, just begging for technicians. I’ve even gotten calls from the Cayman Islands to see if I can send them a technician.” Marine technicians fulfill several different roles within the marine industry. They can work for boat manufacturers or in the service department of boat dealerships providing a number of functions, from the shop to the warranty department. “You don’t have to just be a technician,” Hunter said. “There’s all kinds of things you can do in this industry besides turn a wrench.” National Park’s curriculum is unique because the college maintains partnerships with three of the major boat manufacturers and therefore includes a lot of these companies’ factory curriculum in the degree. “We have partnered with Yamaha, Mercury and Suzuki and they all support our program a whole lot,” Hunter said. “They give us new engines to work on. They’ve actually helped design curriculum for the industry, which we’ve adopted. It’s just a really great partnership. We’re not the only marine tech program in the state, but I’m almost positive we’re the only one with all three engine manufacturers partnering with us.”
National Park limits classes to 20 students for the nine-month coursework to allow everyone to get plenty of individual attention. The college just started introducing high school students into the program, coinciding with opening a new education space that houses hands-on and classroom work. “We train on all types of marine engines, but we focus on theory for many of them because there’s such a huge variety,” Hunter said. “You can’t really touch everything well, so we pick the theory that is behind each engine to get our students to understand that one engine may look slightly different than another but they work basically the same way. If you understand how it works, you can repair it. “Each manufacturer has their own path, and so we set our students up with the opportunity to get started down all three paths from the three different manufacturers we’re partnered with. Once you get hired at a dealership, that dealer will send you back to a factory school for some more advanced training that’s product specific.” Hunter said given the number of boat manufacturers in the state, and the reputation of the National Park program, more students are exploring the degree, beginning in high school. “It’s been a slow process because getting the word out about a technical program has been a difficult challenge,” Hunter said. “But as we’ve enlisted factory support in doing that, and as our school has done a really good job of helping advertise our program, our numbers have begun to grow quickly.” Learn more at np.edu.
FOUR FAST FACTS
CARPENTER • Arguably the most versatile of all skilled professions. • Carpenters are used throughout construction and manufacturing industries. • Learn on the job, in the classroom or via apprenticeship. • Excellent small business opportunity for entrepreneurs. INTERESTED? See Page 35 for more. BLUEPRINT | 2022 | arktimes.com 21
Arkansas woman makes history
Entergy employee zaps stereotypes as first female line worker
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t first glance, Sara Russell-Lingo seems an unlikely candidate to make history as the first female line worker in Entergy Arkansas’s history. The 25-year-old Central Arkansas native lacked both direction and technical ability coming out of high school. “I didn’t even know how to change a tire when I came into this,” she said. “I worked at Remington Arms as a machine operator for a while and I ran machines, so that helped me a little bit with my tools and everything. I went in there and I passed my technician test, which surprised me. But, really, as far as being good with mechanical stuff, I sucked at it.” Factory work was just one of the jobs the native of South Bend, Arkansas, drifted into. By the time her grandfather pointed out Entergy Arkansas’s line worker program, she was eager for a change. “I was in search of a career after working those dead-end jobs,” she said. “I was getting depressed because I had put in for so many things; I even put in for an airline stewardess. Crazy. “My grandfather saw something about the H-VOLT Academy and knew it would be a great career for me to get into. He put me onto it at Pulaski Technical College.” The training program, High Voltage Lineman Training or H-VOLT Academy, is a certified power line worker training program designed to provide quality education along with real-world, hands-on instruction. Russell-Lingo wasn’t put off by the gender reference in the name of the course; she already knew she was getting into a male-dominated field. “I have been the only woman all the way through school and at Entergy [Linemen's] Boot Camp,” she said. “Some guys supported me. Some of them gave me a hard time but I didn’t let that get to me. I still gave it all I had. Nobody’s born knowing how to do this job. You’ve got to learn somewhere, and I would say I’m doing pretty well.” Nonetheless, Russell-Lingo admitted in the early stages of her training, she felt the need to over-perform just to prove she belonged. “I had an issue when I first went into this, because I felt like I had to prove myself physically,” she said. “I was focused on the physical instead of the mental and it made me fall behind, because I was so focused on preparing my body that the mental side didn’t matter to me.” “My supervisor visited my boot camp in Mississippi and they told him I was outstanding out in the field doing the physical activity, but the mental I wasn’t doing so good. So, I had to stop focusing on proving myself physically and getting more involved in the mental aspect of it. In this line of work, you can have no mistakes.” Once she finished boot camp, Russell-Lingo began her five-year apprenticeship on the job with Entergy Arkansas. In that role, she shadows an experienced lineman as well as attends class. “Pretty much it’s like I’m in college right now,” she said. “Some weeks we work 16 hours, seven days a week. Sometimes we work 10 hours a day, four days a week. It’s not regular hours so it’s never going to be the same. That’s
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AGE: 17 EDUCATION: Senior, Mountain Home High School SNAPSHOT: Through MHHS’s career education program, Herron discovered his career path in welding and took steps to gain skills while still in high school, shortening his training time after graduation. WHAT’S A SKILL THAT YOU LEARNED DURING HIGH SCHOOL THAT WILL SERVE AS A CAREER GOING FORWARD? Welding. I just like the aspect of it because I’ve always been around it. I like all the cool art you can do with it and everything you can build. I plan on continuing a year after school at the local technical center and getting certified and going out and doing some welding on the road. HOW HAVE THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS THERE HELPED PREPARE YOU FOR A SKILLED CAREER? The ag teachers and other instructors do a good job of teaching kids some basic construction and work skills and things like that. Every now and then we get some people to pop in, like a local business here, TI Trailers, pops into our welding class at least once or twice a year and sees some people they would like to hire in the future. As far as welding specifically, there’s a lot of different types of welding and a lot of different tools you need to learn how to use and learn all the safety stuff. It was a little difficult figuring all that out at first, but once you do it safely and figure out what gases to use and what rods to use on what kinds of metal, after that it’s not too bad. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR ANY HIGH SCHOOLER AS FAR AS CHECKING OUT A SKILLED CAREER? I would tell them to try to join into a shop class or an ag program and just learn some little things and figure out what they would like to do. If nothing else, it’ll teach you some things you need to know when you get older down the road, just basic things like how to read a tape measure or how to lay something out or build something so you don’t have to pay someone else to do it.
FOUR FAST FACTS
AVIATION TECHNICIAN • Keep private and commercial aircraft airborne through maintenance and repair. • Multiple job opportunities with FBO, shipping companies and commercial airlines. • Median salaries in Arkansas between $50,000 and $65,000 depending on specialty. • Demand for techs is strong throughout the industry. INTERESTED? See Page 33 for more.
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
part of the sacrifice you’ve got to make for a good career and lifestyle.” Russell-Lingo said the secret to surviving in an almost all-male industry, and a dangerous one at that, is to work hard and believe in one’s abilities. She said with each new task she learns, her confidence grows. “When you go out and you have a hard time, that’s a challenge right there to complete,” she said. “Once you do, you feel like you’re on top of the world. That’s what it does to my confidence; at first, I had a little self-doubt. Once I started completing tasks it really helped my confidence. It’s like, ‘If I’ve done it once, I can do it again.’” Determination and the will to get better are things she would recommend to anyone considering a skilled career, particularly as a lineworker and especially for women. “Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you’re weak,” she said. “Sometimes people look at my little petite self and they judge me. But just because I’m little and I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m weak. And when I say weak, I don’t mean just physically, I also mean mentally. Nothing in life comes easy; if you want it, you have to give it all you’ve got.” Following her apprenticeship, Russell-Lingo will carry the title of journeyman and her career choices will broaden considerably. She said she’d ultimately like to take additional schooling that will certify her to work under special conditions — namely, being lowered from a helicopter to work on hard-to-reach power lines. She said the best part of her job is knowing how important it is to the lives of customers. “Electricity keeps people alive,” she said. “There’s people on life support right now in hospitals and they’re relying on me to keep them alive. When you go out and you’re working these lines, you’re helping not only an individual, you’re helping whole communities. “Electricity runs the world, so when you’re out there sacrificing, you’re doing it for a good purpose. You’re keeping people alive.”
I knew that full-time school wasn’t going to be for me; I liked to get outside and put my hands on stuff. When I came back I was kind of lost. Didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I just started picking up jobs here and there. Then I heard about H-VOLT. WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE? As a first-year here, it’s you and a lineman. He’s there to train you. The serviceman’s job is basically all the power going to the house; we don’t work with all the transformers and stuff as much. We call the customer and see what they’re having issues with and see if we can fix it. Or, we might get a call from the police and have a house fire or car hit a pole and we’re the first person to go out there. If we can fix it, we just fix it then and there, otherwise we call in a crew to come out and help fit it. My responsibilities when we get to the office are, I load the truck up with material and then I just sit back and I learn. That’s what I’m supposed to do.
AGE: 21 EDUCATION: Parkview High School; H-VOLT Academy at UA Pulaski Tech PROFESSION: Apprentice line worker, Entergy Arkansas SNAPSHOT: As an Entergy Arkansas apprentice, Bailey will combine on-thejob and classroom work as he learns the ropes of being a lineman. GROWING UP, DID YOU HAVE ANY FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE TRADES? HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THIS FOR A CAREER? My mom is a nurse practitioner at Arkansas Children’s and my dad works at Lakewood Middle School. As soon as I got out of high school, I wanted to be a pilot, or I thought I wanted to be a pilot, so I went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to enroll in college. I was there for maybe about a year and I just did not like flying at all.
DOES THE NATURE OF THE JOB MAKE YOU NERVOUS? IT CAN BE PRETTY DANGEROUS WORK. Yeah, you shouldn’t be nervous about it, because if you’re nervous about it some bad stuff’s going to happen. Just follow all your safety rules; safety rules are there for a reason, and if you follow them ain’t nothing going to happen to you. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION? Communication is a very important thing. It’s a dangerous job and you’ve got to be able to communicate what’s going to happen, when the wire’s going to be hot, when it’s not going to be hot. When you’re just learning, you have to be able to listen to people more than you talk. You also have to take direction and even constructive criticism. If someone corrects you, keep in mind they’re not trying to be mean about it, they’re trying to help you out.
. g o f e h t in t s o l t e g ’t n Do Vaping can affect your memory, concentration, and mood. Learn more about the hazards of vaping at ProjectPreventAR.org.
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Companies, organizations get creative in workforce development
rkansas companies that rely on skilled labor have been working overtime to attract help. Increasingly, companies have partnered with local schools and community colleges to provide advice and expertise to training programs. This ensures students learn the most in-demand skills, virtually guaranteeing them a job after graduation. Here are a few companies and organizations that are setting the pace in worker training and development, both internally and externally.
As president of Associated Builders and Contractors, Bill Roachell hears from his member companies all the time about the challenges of finding good help to accommodate their growth and to replace workers who are retiring. The demand is so great, ABC has implemented its own apprenticeship and training programs to help boost the number of hirable workers coming out of twoyear colleges and those headed straight for the workforce after high school. And
they’re always looking at new and faster ways to get people looking to change careers the basic instruction they need to get into the job market. “We’ve got a new program coming online that we call fast-track training,” he said. “Over an accelerated timetable, we can get people OSHA 10 trained, we can get them their CPR first aid, we can get them their basic core construction. Maybe a little bit in electrical, a little bit in plumbing, and then get those people moving into the workforce. “There’s a ton of opportunity out there right now. For people who maybe were displaced by COVID who are looking to get back into the workforce, this will help them get a better job than they had before.” Roachell said he’s been impressed with the shift many Arkansas high schools and community colleges have taken to emphasize skilled career training in recent years, measures that ABC has partnered with several schools to provide throughout the state. “These programs are helping us recruit new and better talent into the construction workforce,” he said. “A lot of these kids are in rural communities and they
FOUR FAST FACTS
WELDING • One of the foundational skilled careers, welders are in demand across a wide range of industries. • Demand for welders in Arkansas expected to outpace the national average. • Train in school or through an apprenticeship program. • Construction, manufacturing and utilities are just three areas desperate for welders. INTERESTED? See Page 47 for more. 26
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
really can’t see outside of that to know the opportunity that is out there. These education programs do a good job of bringing industry to those kids and saying, 'Here’s what you can do.' “When these kids come out and they get an apprenticeship, they’re working. They’re not accruing all the debt they would get if they went to a traditional four-year school. It’s just a great model and I think it will just continue to grow in popularity.”
As utilities become more sophisticated and customer expectations have changed, the demand for front-line workers with advanced technical skills is high. So says Michael Considine, vice president of distribution operations for Entergy Arkansas. “Entergy Arkansas in particular, and Entergy as a whole, is making tremendous investments in people and infrastructure around grid modernization,” he said. “We are almost done with the installation of 3 million advanced meters across all of Entergy’s footprint, and with the type of data we now have on customer usage and the systems that are put in place, we can start to respond to unplanned outages much more quickly. “Along with that comes a lot of distributed automation and distribution automation that really helps us plan for the future around a self-healing grid. We’re installing equipment on our grid today that will help us transfer the electricity demand of customers around and it will start to anticipate a problem before it becomes an outage.” Training programs have had to keep up with these technical advancements. For this, Entergy created the H-VOLT Academy in partnership with UA Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, and also sends new hires to lineman boot camp before putting them to work in the field, initially in an apprentice capacity. “A lineworker’s job is no longer just manual work,” Considine said. “It’s much more a technology company than it is a poles and wires business. We electronically dispatch work to vehicles when our employees are out in the field every day. There is an incredible amount of data that we push to the tablets they work off of to communicate with the customer about their outage. They also have a lot of web-based training and learning they do to keep their skills sharp.
AGE: 17 EDUCATION: Senior, Vilonia Pathways Academy SNAPSHOT: As part of the inaugural class at VPS, Cash is getting a head start on his career through skilled training and exposure to various job opportunities. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO FOLLOW THE ACADEMY COURSE OF STUDY? WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT IT? I have always thought about doing something in construction, and this was a great opportunity for that. I have the goal of becoming an electrician and making that my career. WHAT TECHNICAL SKILLS ARE YOU LEARNING OR HAVE LEARNED THROUGH THIS PROGRAM? We are learning about BIM (building information modeling) in the construction industry. I’m also learning all kinds of hands-on skills that will help me in the future. VILONIA PATHWAYS ACADEMY IS SET UP VERY DIFFERENTLY THAN THE SCHOOLING YOU HAVE HAD THUS FAR. HOW HAVE YOU ADJUSTED TO THE CURRICULUM? I was a little nervous about it because I didn’t know how everything would work. But as time went on, everything started connecting. We take the lessons we learned in class and apply them to hands-on activities. We visit job sites and companies; we get to talk to the owners and management to learn about what their company has to offer. This helps me see where I can be in 10-15 years working for one of these companies.
ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR HIGH SCHOOLERS WHO ARE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE ADVICE FROM AWHAT PRO
OUT WHAT THEY WANT TO DO FOR A CAREER? Trade jobs are a great opportunity and you can make good money. I would recommend that you pursue this field if you are willing to work hard.
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“The equipment that they’re installing is also very high-tech. We’re deploying IPO reclosers, which are basically automated circuit breakers. Those have a computer inside of them and lineworkers are expected to understand those and work on those. Ten years ago, we didn’t have any of those, and today we’re deploying hundreds every year.”
AGE: 20 EDUCATION: Arkansas Northeastern College JOB: Shift electrician, Big River Steel SNAPSHOT: A family member’s steel-working career laid the path for the Missouri native to follow. Now he’s starting his well-paying career at an age when many of his peers are still piling up student loan debt. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE STEEL INDUSTRY? My dad works at the steel mill where he’s a mechanic. I was in the steel tech program at ANC for one term, then I got a job offer at a different steel mill, Big River Steel. I’m a full-time electrician there now. WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL EVERY DAY? You go in in the morning and you take over for the guy who worked over the nighttime. He tells me what kind of issues he had, if he had any standing issues, what you need to jump on right away. If there’s nothing to jump on, you kind of hang around till you get a call. I’ll be working on machinery as issues come up or I might be working on a larger project within the plant itself. There’s something different every day. You’re not looking at the same exact thing every day, so you get the chance to learn something new every day. WHAT OTHER SKILLS DO YOU NEED ON YOUR JOB OUTSIDE OF THE TECHNICAL STUFF AND KNOWING ABOUT ELECTRICITY? The most important skill is communication. If you don’t have communication, you’re not safe. If you don’t know what somebody’s doing around you, you don’t know what could possibly harm you. WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE BEING THE NEW GUY? I’m just going in and soaking up as much information as I can. I tend to get with the older guys so I ask a lot of questions. They know a whole lot more, so I try to be their sidekick and get all the information I can out of them. WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS? I’ll start off as a shift electrician, but eventually I want to be a day electrician or a lead man. Starting out at my age straight out of high school, there is a great opportunity to be promoted where I work. I’m actually getting sent to a class in about two or three months and the company will continue to send me to different trainings. Those will be good learning opportunities for me to help keep the mill running and advance my career.
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As one of the oldest general contractors in Arkansas, Nabholz Construction has for years left its mark on the state through one high-profile project after another. The company has put the same attention to detail in its apprenticeship and continuing training programs, both internally and in partnership with external schools, colleges and organizations. “Our carpentry apprentice program was the first private program in the state. It goes back to 1972,” said David Nabholz, executive vice president. “Our apprenticeship class will generally get eight to 12 new candidates every year here in Central Arkansas and then that’s a three- or four-year training program, depending on if they have any previous experience.” Nabholz said that while not all who start the program finish it, the ones that do generally stay with the company over the long term. “They become our craftsman carpenters, they become our foremen, they become our superintendents and some of them even become project managers,” he said. “Either way, between the benefits and the 401K and their career growth, they’re here for their whole career.” Nabholz has also been an active partner in creating training programs through Arkansas high schools, most recently with the Vilonia Pathways Academy, where the company not only serves as advisers, but provides field trip opportunities to job sites and leads other training to help steer interested students into a skilled career. “We brought students here to our company to meet with our human resources department,” Nabholz said. “It’s a pet peeve of mine that people don’t understand many companies in the construction industry have really great benefits. So, we did about two hours with them, and for the first time they started seeing that we have health insurance, we have a 401K that pays very well and we have all the other benefits, holidays and vacations. They started seeing this as a career where they can excel. “We show them that you come here unskilled and we have apprenticeship programs that you can go through. We’ve got a management training system you can go through. We show them it’s a great career path.”
ABB in Fort Smith, part of a global manufacturing company, is a familiar partner with job skills training in area K-12 school districts, UA Fort Smith and Western Arkansas Technical Center. In fact, the company was instrumental in bringing key educational stakeholders to the table to discuss ways to expand job training into career planning among Fort Smith’s youth. “About five years ago, we started rethinking our approach to career and technical education,” said Jason Green, head of human resources for ABB’s Nieman Motors Division. “We reached out to UA Fort Smith, the Fort Smith Public Schools and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce to reengineer the entire career and technical education model.” Those discussions resulted in new programs that help technical education stand out to students much earlier and educate them on the opportunities available in manufacturing, health care and information technology. Along with the new training and education programming has come new facilities, such as the PEAK Center, set to open in 2022, which extends the work of the Western Arkansas Technical Center in training both young people and adults. ABB has also led the way in providing paid internships providing high schoolers real-world exposure to skilled positions. “For the 2020-21 school year, we hired six apprentices who were trained in partnership with UA Fort Smith,” Green said. “They went through a 40-hour-a-week summer session for eight weeks spending the morning in class at UA Fort Smith and the afternoon working in the manufacturing facility. Once school started, they worked for us three hours a day, four days a week, all paid.” Of those six interns, four joined the company after graduation. ABB hired them part time to allow them time to finish their associate degree, which they did thanks to ABB’s tuition reimbursement program. Green said the company’s internships are a model for others to follow.
“We’ve aligned training programs with demand,” he said. “As students walk across that stage at graduation, whether it’s high school or post-secondary, they’re walking with two things: a viable career plan and relevant skill sets so that they’re employable.”
LITTLE ROCK WATER RECLAMATION AUTHORITY
As a public utility, Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority is responsible for serving thousands of households, and it fulfills this responsibility through the talents of many different skilled employees. The organization provides ongoing training programs for these employees to keep their skills up-todate and customer service at its peak. LRWRA employs electricians, plumbers, HVACR and general carpentry workers, as well as machinists and tool-and-die crafts people. All of this skill is at work in the field daily, as are more entry-level positions from which workers can begin their careers and move up. The most entry-level positions — utility workers — require only a high school diploma, but the company encourages employees to improve their skills to create a career path. In fact, after one year of service, LRWRA offers employees educational reimbursement, which allows people to train for a skilled career, earn a certificate or even finish an associate degree, thus moving up and commanding a higher wage. The organization also pays outright for any mandatory training or continuing education required of employees in a given role, along with affording them paid time off to complete it. Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority pays competitive wages, as well as offering a full slate of benefits from health and wellness, to retirement, to paid time off that accrues from day one of employment. All told, benefits make up about 40 percent of employees’ total compensation package. Another benefit that’s hard to put a price on is job security. Given the local nature of the work, Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority’s jobs aren’t going to be relocated out of state or offshore. In fact, even a global pandemic didn’t affect operations much; as an essential service, the majority of skilled positions worked straight through the COVID crisis of 2020 and 2021 to ensure water kept flowing to homes and businesses alike.
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AGE: 18 EDUCATION: Senior, Mountain Home High School SNAPSHOT: A recent transplant from Montana, Monroe has learned through her high school experience how to turn a cherished family hobby into a lucrative career. WHAT SKILLED CAREER DO YOU PLAN TO PURSUE AND WHY? I chose to follow the automotive courses because I grew up around cars and I thought it was interesting and I wanted to go into that field. I’ve been wanting to go into that field for a while. I had some experience in it coming in. I work on my truck a lot, and I worked with my grandpa on classic cars. In fact, one of the restoration projects I worked on with him was my first truck that I had. I also worked on my uncle’s race car that he used to race. WERE THERE OTHER GIRLS IN YOUR CLASSES AND IF NOT, WAS IT INTIMIDATING TO BE THE ONLY ONE? I was it, and while it was kind of intimidating at first, I kind of put the boys in their place. And then it was fine. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE YOUR AGE WHO’S LOOKING TO GET INTO A SKILLED CAREER? My best advice to them is to just try to pick something that you would possibly like or that you find interesting and then just keep up with it and work hard because in the end, it’s going to be worth it. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING FOR YOU TO GET YOUR HEAD AROUND IN YOUR TECHNICAL CLASSES? I don’t like doing book work that much, so I was like, "I don’t really need this." But I found out in the long run I was definitely going to need all those measurements because that’s what mechanics is. It’s just math with tools and that actually helped a lot with my math skills. You have to be a leader in some things in your career, but also a follower in a lot of things. Like, if you don’t know something, and an instructor is teaching you, you don’t want to be stubborn and do it your way. You actually have to learn how to do it the right way.
FOUR FAST FACTS
INDUSTRIAL TECHS • Demand for industrial maintenance technicians expected to jump 13% in Arkansas. • Inspect, troubleshoot and repair equipment on job sites and in factories. • Median annual salary almost $50,000. • Welding and plumbing skills a plus, commanding higher pay.
INTERESTED? See Page 42 for more.
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Manufacturing technology abounds at North Arkansas College
f you think you have to leave Arkansas to find cutting-edge manufacturing jobs — or if you think those jobs are low-tech, low-wage manual labor — think again. Today’s manufacturing jobs employ the latest in robotics, lasers and other automation in clean, climate-controlled work spaces. Best of all, manufacturing jobs are plentiful and well-paid for those with the right skills. North Arkansas College in Harrison prepares students to step into these careertrack roles. Two programs in high demand include the school’s associate degree in automation and systems integration and its manufacturing technology certificate. The automation and systems program takes the student through 61 credit hours with two emphasis tracks: electronics and manufacturing. Both tracks in these twoyear degrees study basic electronics theory and principles and use of basic test equipment, with detailed study in electronic devices and circuits. Hands-on troubleshooting, programming and operation of industrial equipment, such as microcontrollers, programmable logic controllers (PLC), drive systems and robotics, are also part of the program. North Arkansas College is the only FANUC Authorized Satellite Training Center in Arkansas for robotics. Job titles vary, but all share the same basic job responsibility, which is to keep the highly technical and computerized machines working productively. Selected median salaries in this field include $41,360 for maintenance machinery techs and $58,350 for robotics and automation techs. The manufacturing technology certificate provides training necessary to thrive in the machine tool technology industry. Students learn a variety of subject matter in this area, including safety and blueprint reading, technical math skills and various skills setting up and operating computer numeric controlled (CNC) machinery. Soft skills, such as job planning and management, quality and inspection, process improvement and technical communication, are also stressed. Students completing the program are eligible to take National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certifications, which employers are looking for. Both programs transfer or stack on other education programs to meet students’ long-term goals. For more information, visit northark.edu.
After a bumpy few years that 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 nearly constant. 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 include: 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 or push 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. Diesel techs • Diesel engines power many industrial vehicles and machines. • Diesel engines are increasingly sophisticated, with onboard 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, such as computer programmers/coders, electricians, plumbers and industrial maintence 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.
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. Arkansas’s 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? There were 270 log graders and scalers in Arkansas in 2018 and that number is expected to stay about the same by 2026. There were 1,770 logging equipment operators in the state in 2018 and that number is expected to drop to 1,580 by 2028, faster than the national average. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Logging Equipment Operators • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $24,210 annually/$11.64 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $45,230 annually/$21.75 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $60,020 annually/$28.86 per hour Log Graders and Scalers • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $25,600 annually/$12.31 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $37,890 annually/18.22 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $54,430 annually/$26.17 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. Detail oriented • Must watch gauges, dials and other indicators to determine if equipment and tools are working properly. 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 state-recognized safety certificate from the logging company.
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Did you ever notice how many people work 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 a nursing or medical school. If you have an interest in the medical field, but don’t see yourself becoming a doctor or nurse, there’s a job waiting in the allied health field that’s got your name on it.
WHAT DOES AN ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL DO? Allied health is a broad category of careers within the health care field. The number, variety and range of these jobs is vast — some estimates say up to 60% 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, which allows people to start a career quickly. Allied health professionals are the support staff at the doctor's 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? • People are living longer, thanks to advancements in medicine, technology and 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. WHAT ARE A FEW ALLIED HEALTH JOBS? The website careerprofiles.info compiled a list of the fastest-growing allied health care jobs in the United States. Medical Assistants perform clinical and administrative duties for doctors, surgeons, chiropractors and other medical specialists. • Typical job duties: Answering phones, greeting patients, maintaining medical records, scheduling patient appointments and handling patient billing.
BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES
• Education: Generally includes a certification or associate degree than takes 1-2 years to complete. • Growth: There were 3,810 medical assistant jobs in the state in 2018 and jobs are expected to grow 26% by 2028. • Pay: In Arkansas, the annual pay range for medical assistants is between $23,000 and $40,960. 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 degree at a community college; others complete a fouryear degree. • Growth: There were 580 cardiovascular technologists and technicians jobs in the state in 2018 and jobs are expected to grow 9% by 2028. • Pay: In Arkansas, the annual pay range for cardiovascular technologists and technicians is between $27,400 and $78,980. Respiratory Therapists assess, treat and assist patients with cardiopulmonary and other breathing problems. • Typical job duties: Assess, treat and assist patients; oversee respiratory therapy, administer diagnostic tests and provide therapy. • Education: Respiratory therapists generally hold an associate degree.
• Growth: There were 1,140 respiratory therapists jobs in the state in 2018 and jobs are expected to grow 23% by 2028. • Pay: In Arkansas, the annual pay range for respiratory therapists is between $41,420 and $74,780. 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. Many allied health jobs are an extension of the physician and frequently have close contact with patients. Not all allied health professionals act as front-line support for medical procedures, however. These professionals maintain patient records and coordinate with insurance carriers for payment, among other tasks. Except for the fact 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 www.careeronestop.org.
Aviation comes in all shapes and sizes, from crop dusters and private planes, to small corporate 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 fixedbase 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. Airframe • Perform inspections of aircraft frames, mechanical components and electrical systems to locate wear, defects and other problems. • Test aircraft functions using diagnostic equipment to ensure proper performance. • Repair or replace components using hand or power tools. • 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 the “powerplant”) or hydraulics. Avionics • Specialize in aircraft electronics, which includes a range of job types. • Responsible for all the electronics onboard 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. • Test onboard equipment to ensure it’s working properly. WHERE DO AVIONIC TECHS WORK? Some specific types of businesses that employ aircraft technicians include: Fixed-Base Operations At most airports, private companies called FixedBase 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 packages every day. Retailers rely 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 670 aircraft mechanics and service technicians in 2018 and that number is expected to grow 9% by 2028. There were 50 avionics technicians in the state in 2018 and that number is expected to remain flat by 2028.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Equipment Maintenance and Repairs • Troubleshooting/Quality Control Analysis • Critical Thinking • Complex Problem Solving 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 degree, they can opt to complete a four-year degree, which opens up a number of other job opportunities and greater earning power.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $31,780 annually/$15.28 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $53,430 annually/$25.69 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $69,030 annually/$33.19 per hour Avionics Technicians • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $41,660 annually/$20.03 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $67,840 annually/$32.61 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $100,680 annually/$48.41 per hour BLUEPRINT | 2022 | arktimes.com 33
Computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing drafters create 2D and 3D drawings that are 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. 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 that contains all the dimensions for the part, much like a blueprint shows the dimensions of a house or building. In addition to being faster than hand drawings and human-operated 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. CAD is widely used to produce parts for machines, in the design of manufacturing tools, and in designing residential and commercial buildings. CAD is especially important in microelectronics, providing lower development costs for newer, smaller and more powerful devices in a much shorter time frame. Drafters also work with CAD to create BIM drawings. BIM stands for building information modeling and is widely used in construction to produce highly accurate digital models of buildings and machines. WHERE DO CAD/CAM DRAFTERS WORK? 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. 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. 34
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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 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 more than 1,000 jobs in 2018. More than half of those positions were in the architectural or civil fields. Most drafters work 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 average about 4% through 2028, led by electrical and electronics drafters, which are expected to grow 7%. That may not sound like much, but it’s well above the national growth rate expected in these jobs. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Architectural/Civil Drafters • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $35,520 annually/$17.08 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $50,990 annually/$24.51 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $72,270 annually/$34.75 per hour
Electronics Drafters • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $38,100 annually/$18.32 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $63.690 annually/$30.62 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $100,240 annually/$48.19 per hour Mechanical Drafters • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $32,400 annually/$15.58 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $49,020 annually/$23.57 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $75,490 annually/$36.29 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Creativity • Detail oriented • Interpersonal skills such as communication • Math/technical skills • Time-management skills HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Drafters generally need to complete a two-year associate 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 a 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.
Of all the skilled professions, carpentry is the oldest and arguably the most widely recognized. 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 and/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. • Use hand tools and power tools to complete their work. • 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. WHAT’S NEW? Cloud Computing/Apps Visit a construction site and you’ll see more iPhones and iPads than paper blueprints. Being skilled in the trades means knowing how to quickly store and retrieve plans, documents 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 Bulding information modeling allows architects, engineers, contractors and other construction professionals to create virtual plans. BIM also 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 with-
out 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. Drones Unmanned aerial vehicles are playing a larger role in the construction industry. Drones equipped with cameras can access remote locations, collect data, complete safety inspections, capture project progress and more. Surveyors also use them to create 3D mapping. 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 self-employed carpenters, particularly in the early stages of starting a business. Safety equipment, such as boots, hardhats and harnesses (when working high off the ground), is required when working for a general contractor or in an industrial setting. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? In 2016 there were 6,330 carpenter jobs in Arkansas. The Department of Labor predicts the number of these jobs in Arkansas will grow 9% by 2028, more than four times 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, and when a slowdown occurs, building projects are sometimes postponed or even canceled. When that happens, workers get laid off.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $26,490 annually/$12.74 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $38,170 annually/$18.35 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $58,999 annually/$28.36 per hour Your actual earnings depend 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 • Detail oriented • Dexterity • Math skills • Physical strength/stamina • Problem-solving skills 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 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 co-workers 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. BLUEPRINT | 2022 | arktimes.com 35
CNC OPERATORS/ PROGRAMMERS
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 and programmers, specially trained individuals who design precision parts, then program and operate computer-driven machinery to make those parts, which are used in all kinds of industries and to help bring new manufacturing technology to life.
WHAT DOES A CNC PROGRAMMER OR 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. A CNC operator’s job also includes studying blueprints or other instructions to determine equipment setup requirements. CNC operators conduct test runs of production equipment and make adjustments as necessary. CNC machines work from special designs produced by computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) or computeraided design (CAD) systems. For this reason, CNC operators are sometimes cross-trained on CAD/CAM systems. CNC programmers create the instructions for the computer to tell the machine what to do during the production process. In some cases, one employee performs both jobs. WHAT’S NEW? Computer-controlled equipment represents 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 than parts that are created by hand. The technology works in much the same way as the software that powers 3D 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. 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.
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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, climate-controlled 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 THE JOB OUTLOOK? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were only 100 CNC operators in the state in 2016, 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 are 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 20% by 2026. 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? CNC Programmers • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $31,340 annually/$15.07 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $56,360 annually/$27.10 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $109,800 annually/$52.79 per hour
• CNC Operators • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $27,160 annually/$13.06 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $37,730 annually/$18.14 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $53,400 annually/$25.67 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 • Mathematics • Physical stamina/strength • Design • Mechanical skills HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Machine operator trainees usually begin by watching and helping experienced workers on the job. 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 computer-controlled 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.
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 an app. The fact is, nearly everything 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.) Coders may also develop websites or apps for the companies they work for. Computer programmers do the same thing as computer coders, but they are also responsible for managing the overall project of designing, producing and testing a new software product, or designing a network system. WHAT’S NEW? Consider: Just 10 years ago, few people even knew what an app was, and look where we are now. Technology moves so fast, just about anything we could list under the heading “What’s New” is likely to be replaced by something faster and smarter within a very short period of time. Some emerging trends in the industry include: Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR) • Technologies that provide the user the ability to experience a 360-degree digital environment. • Some applications include giving a client a look at a building before it is built, conducting flight training or producing a safety course that simulates fire or other emergency. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) • RPA is the use of software to automate repetitive tasks that people used to do. • About 60% of occupations can be partially automated; less than 5% can be completely replaced by technology. • While this technology would affect, and potentially eliminate, some positions, it would also create new ones.
Machine Learning • Machine Learning is a subset of artificial intelligence whereby computers are programmed to learn to do something they are not programmed to do. Computers “learn” by discovering patterns and insights from data. In general, there are two types of learning: supervised and unsupervised. • Machine Learning is rapidly being deployed in all kinds of industries, creating a huge demand for skilled professionals. Machine Learning applications are used for data analytics, data mining and pattern recognition. • Jobs in this area rank among the top emerging jobs on LinkedIn, with almost 2,000 job listings posted. WHERE DO COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS AND CODERS WORK? Most programmers and coders work full time in offices, but the nature of the work allows many to work from home. Programmers may work alone or they may work as part of a team, depending on the size of the project. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? Expert predictions are mixed as to the future job outlook; some sources predict a decline in the number of jobs, while others expect it to grow as much as 8%. Computer programmers and coders are part of a much larger group of jobs under the category of information technology. Programmers who have general business experience may become computer systems analysts. With experience, some programmers may become software developers. With the right education and experience, the career options in information technology are nearly endless.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Computer Programmers • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $48,660 annually/$23.39 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $80,240 annually/$38.58 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $132,880 annually/$63.89 per hour Your actual earning power depends on the company you 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 • Thinking creatively • Detail oriented • Problem-solving 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.
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Diesel engines are the workhorses of the road and job site. 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 job site and in factories.
WHAT DO DIESEL TECHS DO? 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 technician is different from a diesel mechanic, generally speaking, in that: • Diesel technicians are trained to handle onboard 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. WHAT’S NEW? Diesel machinery has enjoyed major advances in technology, which have 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 by which it must abide. To help stay in compliance, trucking companies rely on the technology that’s built into their fleet. 38
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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 job site 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 3,670 diesel technicians in Arkansas in 2018, and the Department of Labor expects that number to grow by 9% by 2028. That’s slightly ahead of the national average.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Diesel Technician • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $29,660 annually/$14.26 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $40,630 annually/$19.53 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $60,210 annually/$28.95 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Physical skills • Physical strength • Technical skills • Computer knowledge • Soft 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.
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. • 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 people's homes. • 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 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 • Work atop telephone poles or alongside the road. • Work to restore power after storms and floods.
WHAT’S NEW? 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, convert it to electricity and download 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. Home-Powered Roof Shingles Roof shingles that collect sunlight and convert it into energy that powers the building. The shingles could potentially present a lower-cost option than conventional solar panels. Electricians are needed to wire the solar shingling system into the building’s electrical systems. WHERE DO ELECTRICIANS WORK? 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. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? Electricians held about 6,200 jobs in Arkansas in 2018, the majority of them working for electrical contractors. Nearly all electricians work full time. The U.S. Department of Labor projects electrician jobs in Arkansas to grow by a healthy 12% by 2028, well ahead of the national average.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $26,730 annually/$12.85 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $42,470 annually/$20.42 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $62,260 annually/$29.94 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. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Intellectual ability • Skills in math, algebra, reading, writing. • Troubleshooting • Mechanical ability • Business/interpersonal skills such as time management and communication • Physical skills 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 master’s 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 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 on specific products. BLUEPRINT | 2022 | arktimes.com 39
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. 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 job site. Some of the most common job titles within this category include: Operating engineers (sometimes called hoisting or portable engineers). • 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? Internet of Things (IoT) • A sensor, or group of sensors, installed for collecting and transferring data. Whenever a product 40
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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 Multifunctionality • Construction companies are always looking for ways to get the most out of expensive equipment. • Multifunctional 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 job site. • The feature uses global positioning to determine where and how equipment is being used. WHERE DO HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATORS WORK? The majority of construction equipment operators work full time, in nearly every type of weather conditions. Like all jobs that work outdoors, there is the potential to get dirty, greasy or muddy on the job site. Some operators may also work in remote locations and have irregular schedules to match round-the-clock production or work that must be done late at night. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were a little more than 3,580 heavy equipment operators in Arkansas in 2016 and the number of positions is expected to grow 10% by 2026, 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 wages (bottom 10 percent) — $26,000 annually/$12.52 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $36,800 annually/$17.70 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $50,300 annually/$24.20 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Hand-eye-foot coordination • Mechanical skills • Physical strength • Comfortable with heights • Building and construction 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 operators 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 equipment to job sites and may need special licenses for operating specific pieces of equipment.
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 AN HVACR TECHNICIAN DO? HVACR (sometimes written as HVAC-R) stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. HVACR technicians are specially trained individuals who install, service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems in homes, businesses and multi-unit residential. HVACR 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. • 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. WHAT’S NEW? Thermal-driven air conditioning • Uses 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 loop 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 preference and automatically adjusts rooms to those settings. • Turns itself off when room is unoccupied; provides Wi-Fi enabled remote monitoring. WHERE DO HVACR 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 3,100 HVACR technicians and installers in Arkansas in 2018 and that number is expected to grow a whopping 16% by 2028, per the U.S. Department of Labor. Arkansas’s job growth is expected to exceed that of the national average. To understand job growth, remember even the best HVACR 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 wages (bottom 10 percent) — $26,940 annually/$12.95 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $41,120 annually/$19.77 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $58,960 annually/$28.35 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Soft skills • Active listening • Communication • Customer service • Critical thinking/troubleshooting • Mechanical/construction skills • Physical skills/stamina HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? HVACR 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 3- to 5-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, HVACR 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.
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If you’re someone who likes every day to provide a different challenge — and who enjoys being multifaceted 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 skill set 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. • 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. 42
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• 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. 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 for this job sector is bright. There were 6,120 positions in Arkansas in 2018 and that figure is expected to grow 14% by 2028, per the U.S. Department of Labor, growing much faster than the national average. Machinery maintenance workers held 12,590 positions in 2016 and are expected to grow by 15% in 2026. Millwrights numbered 480 in 2016 and will grow to 510 positions over the next five years, up 8%. All three professions are growing faster than the national average. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Industrial Machinery Mechanics • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $32,040 annually/$15.40 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $48,560 annually/$23.34 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $73,400 annually/$35.29 per hour
Machinery Maintenance Workers • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $26,000 annually/$12.52 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $36,800 annually/$17.70 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $50,300 annually/$24.20 per hour Millwrights • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $26,000 annually/$12.52 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $36,800 annually/$17.70 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $50,300 annually/$24.20 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Mechanical skills • Production/processing methods • Math skills • Repair/maintenance skills • Operation monitoring • Troubleshooting/diagnosis 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 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. 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.
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 produced parts and instruments using a variety of mechanical and computer-controlled machines. Machinists set up and operate a variety of computer- and mechanically controlled tools to fashion raw materials like metal and plastic into precision parts and instruments. Many machinists today must be able to use both manual and computer numerical control (CNC) machinery. Workers may produce large quantities of one part, small batches or one-of-a-kind items. Parts range from simple steel bolts to titanium bone screws for orthopedic implants. Because most machinists train in CNC programming, they may also write basic programs and often modify programs. These modifications, called offsets, fix problems and improve efficiency by reducing manufacturing time and tool wear.
3D printing • 3D printers can create products and components from a variety of raw materials, including concrete, wood, steel and an increasing range of metals, alloys, ceramics and metal-matrix composite materials. • Hybrid machining incorporates both traditional CNC machining and 3D printing solutions to improve product development. • Manufacturers have much more control over the goods they create. Materials and components can be printed right at a job site with an unlimited range of customization. Automated finishing systems • Robotic-powered finishing systems are revolutionizing the quality and output of the machinist industry. • Robotic abrasive blasting systems offer unmatched improvements in quality, efficiency, versatility and safety.
WHAT’S NEW? Remote smart operations • The Internet of Things incorporates smart, connected devices, including smart sensors to improve control over equipment and deliver more insights. • Various machines can operate autonomously, requiring human input or oversight only when something goes wrong. • When there is a problem, IoT offers much better diagnostic capabilities helping technicians pinpoint and correct problems. Laser-beam machining • A thermal process for chip or material removal, also known as laser micromachining (LBM). • A high-energy laser beam focuses on a component and the thermal energy transfers to the targeted surface. • Laser beam machining is more widely adopted in manufacturing, particularly for carbon-fiber materials and more durable composites.
WHERE DO MACHINISTS WORK? The vast majority of machinists work in manufacturing industries and independent machine shops. Maintenance machinists work in most industries that use machinery in manufacturing plants. Most machine shops are relatively clean, well-lit and ventilated and many computer-controlled machines are partially or totally enclosed. Exposure to noise, debris and lubricants are greatly minimized. Workers must follow safety precautions, including wearing safety glasses and earplugs. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were 2,850 machinists in Arkansas in 2018 and the outlook for this job is good. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts job growth of 8%, doubling last year’s growth estimates. Arkansas’s projected job growth is in line with that figure.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $28,890 annually/$13.89 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $41,670 annually/$20.03 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $72,380 annually/$34.80 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 • Analytical and mathematical skills • Attention to detail • Mechanical/technical skills 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 of 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.
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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 skill set while performing additional specialized work include: Pipelayers • Provide the major framework for outside plumbing 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, while steamfitters specialize in pipe systems that move high-pressure liquids or gases. • Pipefitters and steamfitters work with both high-pressure and low-pressure systems and install automated controls to regulate industrial systems. Sprinklerfitters • A highly specialized plumber who installs and maintains automatic fire sprinkler systems in office buildings, manufacturing and industrial plants and multiunit residential properties. • They may also work for landscape companies installing in-ground sprinkler systems. WHAT’S NEW? “Brain Pipes” • Smart home automation plumbing systems that allow the homeowner to conserve natural resources and reduce their water footprint. 44
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• 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: 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 job site.
WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were more than 3,500 plumber jobs in Arkansas in 2018 and the future for this skilled job is very bright. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, demand for these jobs is expected to grow 16% in the state by 2028. That’s more than three times the national average. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $27,710 annually/$13.32 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $41,940 annually/$20.16 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $61,940 annually/$29.78 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 • Building and construction expertise • Design skills 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, unions, as stand-alone institutions and some two-year Arkansas colleges. Apprenticeships range from 4- to 5-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.
Have you ever taken part in a process and thought, “There has to be a better way to do this.” That’s the daily motto of process technicians, employees whose job it is to figure out better ways to produce items through manufacturing. Process technicians help companies make better products in ways that are safer, more efficient and therefore more profitable.
WHAT DOES A PROCESS TECHNICIAN DO? Simply put, process technicians look for ways to build or produce things better. They are trained to look for inefficiencies in production and find ways to improve the process. By assisting industrial engineers, process technologists help integrate workers, machines, materials, information and energy to make a product or provide a service. They prepare machinery and equipment layouts, plan workflows, conduct statistical production studies and analyze production costs. Process technology can be broken down into two main categories: Chemical technician Chemical technicians use laboratory instruments and techniques to help chemists and chemical engineers research, develop, produce and test chemical products and processes. Among their job duties are: • Monitor chemical processes and test the quality of products to make sure they meet standards and specifications. • Set up and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment. • Troubleshoot production problems or malfunctioning instruments. • Prepare chemical solutions. • Conduct, compile and interpret results of chemical and physical experiments, tests and analyses for a variety of purposes, including research and development. • Prepare technical reports, graphs and charts, and give presentations that summarize their results. Industrial engineering technician Industrial engineering technicians assist industrial engineers in devising efficient systems to make a product or provide a service. Industrial engineering technicians typically do the following:
• Suggest revisions to methods of operation, material handling or equipment layout. • Interpret engineering drawings, schematic diagrams and formulas. • Confer with management or engineering staff to determine quality and reliability standards. • Prepare charts, graphs and diagrams to illustrate workflow, routing, floor layouts, how materials are handled and how machines are used. • Collect data to assist in process improvement activities. • Study the time and steps workers take to do a task through time and motion studies. WHERE DO PROCESS TECHNICIANS WORK? Process technicians typically work full time and inside, either in a factory, a lab or some other kind of manufacturing setting. They generally work regular business hours; however, some overtime may be required to meet project deadlines. Process technicians may also work irregular hours to monitor laboratory or plant operations during second and third shifts. WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 650 chemical technician jobs in Arkansas in 2018. The field is expected to grow 8% by 2028, better than the national average. Industrial technician jobs numbered 480 positions in 2018; demand for these jobs is also expected to grow by 4%, in line with the national average. Additionally, there were 350 industrial engineering technician jobs in Arkansas in 2016 and that number is expected to increase 6% to 370 jobs by 2026. This is also well above the national rate of growth for this same job.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? Chemical Technologist • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $27,080 annually/$13.02 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $38,180 annually/$18.36 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $64,420 annually/$30.97 per hour Industrial Technologist • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $32,250 annually/$15.50 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $47,900 annually/$23.03 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $117,800 annually/$56.67 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? CHEMICAL: • STEM concepts • Critical thinking • Information ordering • Monitoring • Deductive/inductive reasoning INDUSTRIAL: • Mechanical skills • Engineering/technology concepts • Production/processing concepts • Mathematics • Design • Complex problem-solving
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Products aren’t much good if they can’t get to customers and that’s where the trucking industry comes in. From over-the-road long-haul truckers driving coast to coast, to delivery drivers that bring goods to your door, everything you eat, wear or use has at some point in the supply chain been hauled on a truck.
WHAT DO TRUCK DRIVERS DO? Truck drivers do just what their title says — operate heavy-duty trucks to transport loads from Point A to Point B. Truckers run on time schedules, with specified deadlines when loads have to be delivered, and they balance that with road conditions, speed limits and various other regulations to ensure the driver is operating in a manner that’s safe for themselves and other motorists. But while the name itself is pretty self-explanatory, there are differences within the industry to consider. This article will focus on over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers, which can be divided into various categories: Flatbed Truckers • Flatbed trucks deliver freight secured to a trailer with no walls (hence “flatbed”) hauling such things a military vehicles, large machine parts or lumber. Dry Van Truckers • Dry van truckers drive what most people think of when they think of a semi — an enclosed trailer hauling nonperishable products and dry goods. Tanker Truckers • Tanker truckers transport liquids, which is one of the more difficult trucking operations, from food-grade loads like milk to fuel, chemicals or even hazardous waste. Freight Haulers • Freight haulers deliver goods that are not covered by dry van drivers. Freight haulers often transport liquids, oversized loads, hazardous goods, automobiles and logs on specially modified rigs. Refrigerated Freight Drivers • Refrigerated freight truckers deliver food, medical products, meat, body products and other highly perishable goods in temperature-controlled trailers. WHAT’S NEW The basics of trucking haven’t changed — deliver goods on time, safely — but as with every industry, technology has advanced, making trucks more comfortable, more fuel-efficient and loaded with various computerized systems from navigational GPS to mon46
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itors that ensure drivers don’t exceed speed limits or their allowable daily mileage. The regulatory climate for trucking companies is also changing as states push to reduce emissions and air pollution caused by gasoline- and diesel-powered engines. California and New York, among other states, have mandated that trucking companies replace their existing fleets with electric vehicles over the next couple of decades, which is controversial considering electric truck technology is not yet suited for long hauls, nor are charging stations readily available nationwide. WHERE DO TRUCK DRIVERS WORK? Over-the-road truck drivers may follow a set territory or they may go anywhere in the lower 48 states, plus Canada and Mexico. Truck routes range from a few days out and back to cross-country runs that keep drivers out for several weeks at a time. The truck itself is both the driver’s home and office while they are on the road, as most rigs are outfitted with a sleeper compartment. In some cases, drivers will work in two-person teams, which allows for covering more miles per day than driving alone. It also provides companionship and assistance while out on a run. WHAT'S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were nearly 38,000 heavy truck and tractor-trailer driving jobs in Arkansas in 2018, and experts predict demand will only continue to grow in the future. The Department of Labor predicts these positions will grow to more than 40,000 by 2028, roughly on par with the national average. It should be noted these only represent new positions; given the number of current drivers on the brink of retirement, industry demand is actually much higher. HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE? • Lower range wages (bottom 10 percent) — $26,190 annually/$12.59 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $44,280 annually/$21.29 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $70,110 annually/$33.71 per hour
It should be noted that earning power varies widely with the type of loads you can handle, as some drivers have earned special certifications and therefore command more money. Also, the current shortage of drivers has driven up wages all over the country, with some companies offering handsome sign-on and retention bonuses to keep their fleets running. And, unlike in past generations, trucking companies today also provide a full slate of benefits for drivers that rival anything to be found in a white-collar job. For example, Arkansas-based JB Hunt, one of the largest trucking and logistics companies in the world, advertises medical, dental, vision and prescription coverage, various types of life, accident and disability insurance, a company-matching 401(k) plan, paid vacation and various bonus programs. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Mechanical skills • Attention to detail • Record keeping • Problem solving • Physical strength and stamina HOW DO I LEARN THE CRAFT? Learning to operate a semi generally happens at schools set up for that purpose, although some community colleges also offer this instruction. On average, trucking school takes three to five weeks to complete while two-year schools’ programs can be completed in a semester or two. Once training is completed, drivers must pass a test to get their commercial driver’s license (CDL), required to operate semis, buses and other heavy, oversized vehicles. In Arkansas, 18-year-olds can drive commercial motor vehicles within state lines. Drivers must be 21 to drive commercial vehicles across state lines, haul hazardous materials that require placarding or operate a vehicle with double or triple trailers.
The welding profession is one of nearly unlimited opportunity. 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 one 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 (metal inert gas) 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 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 use 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 highstrength cutting materials. 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 is used to connect cast iron and thinner metals that would warp under the high temperature of welding. 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 boilermaking 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.
WHAT’S THE JOB OUTLOOK? There were nearly 6,000 welding jobs in Arkansas in 2018 and that number is expected to grow by 13% by 2028. This is well ahead of the national average, making Arkansas an excellent place to build your career. 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 wages (bottom 10 percent) — $27,440 annually/$13.19 per hour • Middle range wages (median) — $38,030 annually/$18.28 per hour • Higher range wages (top 10 percent) — $53,210 annually/$25.58 per hour WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? • Physical strength and dexterity • Vision • Attention to detail 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.
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BLUEPRINT | 2022 | ARKANSAS TIMES