Posted: Aug 16, 2013 10:44 AM by MELISSA CANONE
NEW IBERIA - Two programs at South Louisiana Community College in New Iberia are quickly preparing students for outdoor careers at a time when the economy is building momentum and job opportunities are increasing.
Heavy equipment operator and carpentry are long-standing programs at SLCC's Teche Area campus that can lead to middle- to high-income careers. Both programs are considered complements, as the two career paths work together on numerous projects in the workforce.
In two semesters, students can graduate with a diploma in Heavy Equipment Operator. The program includes instruction in actual driving and maneuvering of heavy equipment used in the construction industry, in addition to instruction in general construction site safety, safe operation and maintenance of common equipment/vehicle components, documentation of loads, grades, and equipment inspection, earthmoving operations and site plans, defensive driving skills for off-road equipment, and safety measures for transporting equipment.
"The time is right to begin training," said Dr. Douglas Taylor, dean over the two programs. "In less than one year, our graduates can be on a jobsite building a highway or preparing the land for construction by operating heavy equipment such as bulldozers, backhoes, graders and scrapers."
According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, heavy equipment operators make an average salary of $18 per hour, and its growth rate into 2020 is higher than for most occupations.
The four-semester carpentry program at SLCC teaches students the fundamentals of building materials, hand- tool use, estimating, blueprint reading, framing for commercial and residential structures, roofing, drywall, interior and exterior finishes, and cabinetmaking.
The average salary for a carpentry worker is $35,000 a year, with construction managers making $27 to $51 an hour ($89,000 average annual salary).
Other opportunities to expand upon the carpentry program include courses in drafting, business, and electrical that complement the knowledge students gain in carpentry.
This fall, carpentry students will be designing, building, and raffling a deluxe playhouse that will incorporate elements found in full-size houses. Students will collaborate with SLCC drafting students to develop the plans.
High school students can also take advantage of these two programs through SLCC's dual-enrollment program. High school students earn college credit by taking college courses while still in high school.
"This saves parents literally thousands in college tuition," said Taylor.
Potential students interested in the heavy equipment operator or carpentry programs can call the Teche Area campus at (337) 373-0011. High school students interested in SLCC's dual-enrollment program can call (337) 892-2364.