PATHWAY TO PCA The Work Experience Option Shannon Douglass, Pathway to PCA Program Coordinator
ost people are familiar with the educational path to become a PCA. It takes a specified number of college credits or a Bachelor of Science, usually in agriculture and some specific coursework. What many people do not know is that there are three educational options that qualify a person to take the PCA exam. The most common is the BS degree, some people with a Ph.D. can also qualify and the third option is work experience in which a BS is not required to become a PCA. People following the work experience option still need 42 semester units of specific coursework determined by DPR. Students can take these classes at a junior college or a 4-year school. Students can even get some of these classes completed with distance education or online classes. In addition to the coursework they must have at least 24 months of work experience. Ideally this experience would be working closely with a PCA, but several types of work experience are acceptable. The work experience option is not for everyone. There are some instances in which having a 4-year degree can be a valuable asset to a career and students should be sure to select a path that meets their long term goals. But for people who decide a 4-year degree is not for them and have already been working in the industry, utilizing the work experience option can be a great path to take. So where would the person take classes? Much of this depends on the geographical location of the person and what schools are nearby. For a person living in Fresno for example, it would be easiest to take courses directly at Fresno State. The courses can be completed using the Open University program which allows a member of the community to take classes without formal admission to the college. People who do not live near a 4-year school can get much, and sometimes even all, of the coursework completed at a local junior college. Most classes require the student to physically attend classes, especially laboratory classes. But there are even some great distance education options at several of the community colleges. New in 2011 will be some great class offerings from
8 December 2010
Butte College, located near Chico. One of Butte’s instructors, Dr. Carrie Monlux, (who also teaches courses at Chico State) decided to obtain her PCA license in 2009. Since passing the exam she has become a tremendous advocate for the Pathway to PCA program. Working with her supportive administration in the Butte College agriculture program and a partnership with the Community College Ag Collaborative, she has written several new courses for PCA candidates. To make her classes of special interest to those using the work experience option, several of the new classes will be offered fully online and others offered using hybrid online/in person classes. If the work experience option is something that you would like to learn more about, please contact me. I’m happy to help you figure out where you could start taking classes and help you figure out how long it would take to complete the coursework. You can reach me at (530) 680-4545 or email@example.com.
L-R: Shannon Douglass (Pathway to PCA Program Coordinator), Brett Davie and Matt Kassis (Cal Poly), Terry Stark (CAPCA President/CEO), and Martin Reid (Dupont).
December CAPCA Adviser