Too Many Jobs. Not Enough Grads: Three majors with hungry Wyoming employers

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Wyoming’s economy is bouncing back in a big way, and the state’s major industries are hungry for skilled workers. Thousands of high-paying jobs in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and math—will be created over the next few years, many centered around the energy and construction industries.

Casper College offers the training you need to launch into advanced industrial careers in dozens of fields. Here’s a quick look at CC’s programs in electronics, process control, and construction managment.

Electronics Technology

Demand for skilled electronics workers is unprecedented, according to Dave Arndt, CC instructor and department head for the electronics technology program. “This year, all my graduates were employed by April 15, which is at least a month before they graduated. If they want a job, they will be employed,” he says. Entry-level wages for electronic technicians in Wyoming start at $14 to $20 an hour.

The two-year program grants associate of applied science degrees in electronics technology, and offers refresher courses for returning students who already have electrical experience.

Electronics Engineering Technologists

Median wages (2013) $29.12 hourly
$60,560 annually
Electronics Technicians
Median wages (2013) $28.15 hourly
$58,540 annually
Electronics Installers and Repairers
Median wages (2013) $25.40 hourly
$52,830 annually
Source: National wage data; state and local wages may vary.

Casper College prepares students to go into a variety of careers, including industrial electronics, robotics, intelligent automated manufacturing (working with computers), and many other technical fields.

Industrial electronics students learn about the instrumentation side of automation, an in-demand skill for oil and gas drilling operations because they depend on remote controls and sensors. Companies that service equipment for the drilling industry are expanding. Wind turbines increasingly utilize remote control work, and uranium is another upcoming field in which all of the work is automated.

Hot commodities

“I regularly get calls from employers asking for our students. Right now I have six or seven jobs that I can’t fill,” says Arndt. “If you want to get a good technical career, there are a lot of opportunities.”

This is a nationwide phenomenon that is only projected to intensify, as baby-boomers who began careers in the 1970s retire. “In all technical areas, the people who’ve been responsible for building and maintaining infrastructure are now leaving the workforce,” Arndt points out.

Electronics technology instructor Megan Graham agrees. “There is a huge demand. Years ago, it was ‘We want someone with three years’ experience.’ Now it’s, ‘We want someone we can train.’ They want students like ours, who have industrial computer networking skills.”

No day is a boring day

Interested in electronics and electrical devices? If you’re good at tearing things apart to identify and fix problems, electronics technology might be a good fit. “Students should be inclined to read a schematic, and be able to build a product from that,” Arndt says.

“They should have an interest in the electrical end as well as the mechanical,” advises Graham. “They have to like to troubleshoot, because that’s why they are out there. They have to like doing something different every day.

“No day is a boring day,” she adds. “You’ll be doing different projects, solving different problems, and going to different places. You can go anywhere in the world with these skills.”

“If you want more than just traditional education, Casper College is the place to go,” says Graham. “We have hands-on activities as part of the norm, and students work with a company learning about a specific project.

“There are a lot of technical schools out there and they churn out students,” she states. “We’re different. We take an interest in our students, where they want to work, where their family wants to go, what their goals in life are. We get to know our students.”

Enroll now


Contact us:

David Arndt
Electronics Dept. Chair
307- 268-2521

Process Technology

Wyoming’s booming energy industry needs workers skilled in technology and who have an eye for safety and a knack for hands-on work. Sound like a good fit for you?

Coupled with intensive safety training, Casper College’s 15-week process technology program prepares students to be controllers in power plants, water treatment facilities, and the petro-chemical industry.

What is Process Technology? 

“Process technology is converting raw materials into things that are useful to us,” explains Mike Malone, process technology instructor at Casper College. “This can involve coal, food products, chemicals, paper and pulp, and oil.”

“There are many jobs out there, and the baby-boomers are retiring,” he notes. “These are people who’ve been doing it for 20 or 30 years, and we’re trying to get the younger generation in there, well trained, to replace them.”

Through a partnership with Sinclair Refinery, the Process Control Technology program immerses students in an industrial experience. “Students have been getting interviews with Sinclair when they finish the program,” says Malone.

Power plant operators

Median wages (2013) $32.74 hourly
$68,100 annually
Water treatment plant operators
Median wages (2013) $22.70 hourly
$43,200 annually
Manufacturing production technicians
Median wages (2013) $29.12 hourly
$60,560 annually

Boiling oil

In addition to earning a certificate, participants who complete the program will be issued an Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour card, the federal standard for certified safety training.

“Wyoming is working aggressively to improve workplace safety,” Malone explains. “We train people so they are ‘thinking safety’ when they walk in the door. Safety conscious—that is the key.”

Students are prepared for fires and other emergency situations. “We’re not making ice cream, we’re boiling oil,” he adds. “We push safety hard.”

While students have the option of entering directly into the electric power generation field after receiving their certificate, they are also well positioned for further science studies in math, chemistry, and engineering. The program is also ideal for older students looking to retrain for a new career.

Long-term job stability

A high school diploma or GED is the primary educational requirement, says Malone. “Pretty much all you need to start are steel-toed boots.”

Students familiar with technology and good at troubleshooting will excel. “We’ve been using simulators, so there are computer skills involved in the coursework,” Malone states. “The industry needs people who are mechanically inclined, can read diagrams, think systematically, and are good with their hands.

“It’s a very specialized field. Once you have work experience and get a few years under your belt, you can relocate almost anywhere in the country.

“The pay is excellent,” Malone adds. “Once you’re hired on, you don’t leave—you retire.”

Enroll now


Questions? Contact us today:

Dick Burnett
Power Technology Dept. Chair

Construction Management

Looking for a career where your creativity, communication and problem-solving skills can thrive? Crave working with many different types of people? These qualities may not immediately come to mind when you think of the construction industry—but they should.

Wyoming’s construction business is booming, and job openings outnumber qualified applicants by nearly two to one. Commercial, public school construction, road, and residential projects abound. Nationally, this trend is projected to continue, with federal growth estimates upwards of 20 percent in the next decade.

The Construction Management program at Casper College prepares students to enter the industry with a broad background to appreciate the overall project, and to move up from skilled labor to an administrative position. Students may earn a certificate of applied skills for hands-on jobs, an associate of applied science for direct entry into the field, or an associate of science for transfer to a four-year degree track.

Construction managers

Median wages (2013) $40.58 hourly
$84,410 annually
Construction supervisors
Median wages (2013) $29.03 hourly
$60,380 annually
Construction and building inspectors
Median wages (2013) $26.18 hourly
$54,450 annually
Construction laborers
Median wages (2013) $14.64 hourly
$30,460 annually

More than muscle

Mark Steinle teaches construction management and heads the construction technology department at Casper College. With small class sizes and a low student to faculty ratio, students work closely in a hands-on environment. Each year, the program builds a skid-mounted cabin on-site to be auctioned off.

“There used to be a philosophy that you must promote craftsmen into management, but now we recognize the need for a different skill set,” says Steinle, who has 40 years in the industry.

“There’s more to a construction project than being a laborer,” Steinle says. Clerks, schedulers, estimators and architects all make things happen behind the scenes, and managers ensure the job is well organized. “You’re working with highly skilled people who take pride in the task. Most construction projects are fun to work on because they involve a unique group, and you leave a legacy in every project.”

“A student that does well is one that seeks fairly instant gratification,” Steinle observes. “The beauty is that you see progress in what you’re doing everyday. There is a sense of pride in getting it done right, on budget and on time.”

Enroll now


Contact us:

Mark Steinle

Construction Tech. Dept. Chair

307- 268-2411

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