Process Technicians: A Bright Future

One of the most crucial jobs at a chemical plant or oil refinery is a process technician, who monitors and maintains the manufacturing process that makes chemicals, fuels and plastics.

People in the Baby Boomer generation have long occupied process technician positions. With many Baby Boomers retiring from the workforce, though, there is a shortage of process technicians – particularly in the flourishing petrochemical sector. The demand for process technicians and operators who can help ensure that products and processes are safe has become even more critical. The job outlook is bright for process technicians and operators. In Texas, the overall salary potential for process technicians and operators ranges from $42,000 to $75,000.

The process technology field may appeal to you if you possess or want to develop both strong problem-solving and communication skills. You must also have a good foundation in both math and science. A process technology program will prepare you for a successful career as a process technician or operator in several industries, including petrochemical and oil and gas.

Industrial Machinery Mechanics in DemandProcess Technician Degree - TGCCCC

An industrial machinery mechanic repairs, installs, adjusts, or maintains industrial production and processing machinery or refinery and pipeline distribution systems, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May 2012, the national median salary was $45,840 for industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers.Within the process technology field, an especially high demand exists for industrial machinery mechanics.  Employment of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers is forecasted to grow by 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average for all jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Generally speaking, a process technician monitors and controls various changes such as chemical fluctuations throughout different processes to manufacture a product derived from raw materials.  A process technician or operator performs the following:

  • compiles information using technology or instruments that check conditions such as pressure and temperature
  • oversees and troubleshoots equipment used in various processes
  • operates equipment to help keep plants or facilities running both safely and efficiently
  • assigns repair jobs to the appropriate departments
  • maintains a safe workplace
  • trains staff members
  • develops procedures

A process technician or operator has the opportunity to work in both indoor and outdoor settings. They work with various professionals such as engineers and maintenance staff.

Opportunities in the Process Technology FieldProcess Technician - TGCCCC

Local and international employment opportunities are also currently available for process technicians in other industries such as food and beverage, power generation, and pharmaceuticals.

In the future, it is anticipated that process technicians will take on duties that are normally handled by other professionals such as engineers. Therefore, students will need to acquire specialized degrees such as an associate’s degree in process technology that will provide instruction in areas such as physics and engineering principles. Strong technical and problem solving skills will be even more essential for process technicians.

If you value a mentally challenging job with much responsibility and where you can have a daily impact on the company’s performance, then the process technology field may be suited for you. The member colleges of TGCCCC have rigorous process technology programs that will provide you with the proper training and skills to achieve your career goals.

Welders Sought Amid Oil and Gas Boom

The booming oil and gas industry and the resurgence of the manufacturing sector in the U.S. – and especially Texas – have created a high demand for skilled welders. The demand is so critical that a shortage of welders looms, according to this recent Businessweek report. The American Welding Society anticipates a shortage of 216,000 welding professionals by 2020.

The oil and gas and petrochemical areas will gain 1.3 million new jobs by 2030, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Companies in the oil and gas sector seek welders who can work on new pipelines and new facilities that are being built over the next decade, as well as repair and maintenance of oil rigs. The demand for welders also comes on the heels of an aging workforce of welders that is retiring.

If you’re considering a career in the petrochemical industry or even manufacturing, then welding may be the occupation for you. Skilled welders have the opportunity to land relatively high-paying jobs and explore exciting career paths.

Professional Welder - TGCCCC

Welding: A Hi-Tech Skill

Over time, welding has become a high-tech skill because welders can also operate equipment such as robots and sophisticated automated systems that use various methods such as lasers to join metal parts. Welders are trained to use program software for these automated systems.At its core, welding is the method of linking metal parts together using equipment. Through the welding process, the metal parts are exposed to heat, which melts and permanently fuses these pieces together. Welding is the method used to link beams when constructing buildings. It’s used to join pipes in oil refineries and pipelines. More than 50 percent of U.S. products such as computers, cell phones, ships, and farm machinery are created through some form of welding.

Some of the core main tasks that welders perform include:

  • Reviewing blueprints and other pertinent documents
  • Determining the dimensions that need to be welded
  • Using equipment for the welding process
  • Maintaining equipment

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The American Welding Society advises welding novices that some of the basic skills needed include problem-solving, patience, reliability and creativity.

Career Paths in Welding

For the most part, fundamental welding skills are transferrable and can be used in other industries. Welders are sought for a variety of projects ranging from rebuilding bridges to working on oil and gas pipelines. There are a variety of career paths in welding, which may include:

  • Structural iron worker
  • Welding engineer
  • Sheet metal worker
  • Underwater welder
  • Pipefitter
  • Welding Inspector

Source: American Welding Society

A potential shortage of welders could mean exciting career opportunities for you if decide to become a welder. The Texas Gulf Coast Community Colleges Consortium offers quality welding training and instruction that includes the latest technologies that will equip students with the welding skills to ensure they have successful careers in the petrochemical industry. Contact your local community college to learn more about welding instruction and future career opportunities.

Using the GI Bill to Attend Community Colleges is a Great Opportunity for Texas Veterans

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Most people who serve the United States in the military join one of the Armed Forces branches when they are young – often right out of high school. Besides the honor of serving to protect the country, the military provides on-the-job training that can serve veterans well when looking for employment after their service is complete. However, if they want to go to college for a degree that provides a different career path, they’ll be entering school later than their peers.

That’s why getting an associate degree at a community college can be a very wise decision for veterans. After two years, instead of four, veterans will be able to enter their chosen field. And, with the high pay structures, even for entry-level employees, in the petrochemical industry and healthcare industry, many associate degree holders can earn more to start than bachelor’s degree holders in a liberal arts field.

“Our member companies have a long history of employing and supporting veterans,” said East Harris County Manufacturers Association (an alliance of approximately 130 chemical manufacturers) Executive Director Craig Beskid. “Our members recognize the attributes of our veterans – discipline, leadership and strategic planning. These are valued traits in our industry, and you will find many veterans working for refining and petrochemical companies.”

blogpostimage2The modern GI Bill covers tuition, books, and even some housing costs for veterans who enroll in college. For veterans who choose community college first, if they earn their associate degree in two years, they will still have two years of GI Bill coverage if they choose to transfer to a four-year university. By earning the associate degree first, Texas veterans have the option to start earning $40,000 or more right away in a full-time job or to continue their education.

Most of our TGCCCC member colleges have been recognized by GI Jobs magazine as Veteran Friendly Colleges. Many of our campuses have centers that helps veterans through the registration process, tutoring and other support services — ultimately helping them make the most of their community college experience, and be successful.

The Gulf Coast petrochemical industry needs about 80,000 new employees to fill roles that will come available in the next decade – to build and run facilities. These are highly-skilled trade jobs and craft careers, and many would even be considered “white collar.” Almost all of them also only require an associate degree or certificate, and they all pay well – the average annual salary in the Texas chemical industry is $99,700. In addition, the larger oil and gas industry, as well as the healthcare industry and others are booming throughout Texas.

“Our Bayer MaterialScience chemical manufacturing plant has been particularly keen on tapping into the 1.2 million technically talented veterans expected to leave the military in the next several years,” says Shirlyn Cummings, Bayer MaterialScience’s Talent Management Director for NAFTA Production & Technology.

There has never been a better time to get a degree from a community college. And, if you’re a veteran, you can get it for free. Then you can start your new job on the right foot and on a sustainable, lucrative career track. So, browse through the careers in our Community College Petrochemical Initiative, and then contact your local community college to find out which two-year degree might be right for you.

Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs – The Petrochemical Industry is Booming along the Texas Gulf Coast

It’s difficult to go even a week without hearing about the country’s job situation, but Texas is telling a different story altogether. As the country looks to energy self-sufficiency, the pressure is on in Texas to meet the oncoming demand. But, that is a task with which the state is very familiar. The petrochemical industry in Texas has a long history that begins before the 1950s. During the 1990s, petrochemical facilities in Texas dominated the market – leading the nation in production.

Today, Texas is still the largest chemical producing state, and with production estimates valued at $37 billion this year, it will maintain that position. What makes Texas perfect for petrochemical production? Primarily, access to shale gas deposits and deep water coastal ports, available infrastructure, and the established university system.

Energy companies are poised to fully support the expansion of the petrochemical industry in Texas, and it will transform the region with a two-phase job growth plan. Companies like ExxonMobil have an $8.5 billion capital investment and need more facilities that will call for 43,000 new jobs! The second phase encompasses the management and operations to keep these facilities running at optimal levels. It is estimated that this phase will create 81,000 jobs and will lift Texas’s tax revenue by $779 million.

Petrochemical Industry Growth Phases

So what’s the catch? This: There aren’t enough qualified people to fill the incoming job demands! Companies are scrambling in search of individuals with the right skillsets. That’s why the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges (TGCCCC) and ExxonMobil are spearheading the Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) to attract people to take advantage of these new opportunities.

There is a common misconception that you need a four-year degree to work in the energy industry or even a master’s level degree for a management position. Students in a CCPI program can receive their two-year associate degree and start immediately in their career upon graduation. And the best part is: In the investment and operation phase, there will be $7.7 billion in employee wages. For petrochemical manufacturing jobs alone, the average wage is $99,700 which is 46 percent more than the average manufacturing wage in other industries.

Jobs in the petrochemical field are often perceived to be hard, manual labor positions. However, many are in office environments with regular business hours. Below are the careers paths students can take in the CCPI program:

  • Analyzer Technology
  • CADD
  • Computer Maintenance
  • Electrical Technology
  • Engineering Technology
  • Fieldbus Technology
  • Instrumentation
  • Machine Technology
  • Millwrighting
  • Pipefitting
  • Process Technology
  • Production Technology
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Welding

Teachers are also needed to help educate the next wave of petrochemical professionals. Each of our nine partner schools has openings for full or part-time instructors – with or without previous teaching experience. If you are an experienced professional in any of the course areas listed above, please reach out to our schools for job postings and salary information.

The Community College Petrochemical Initiative is an attractive opportunity for people living in the Gulf Coast region, people who want to start a new career with better future prospects and higher wages, and for veterans returning from active duty. Representatives of TGCCCC and its partner schools will host various recruitment sessions about CCPI throughout the year. To contact a school directly about their specific program offerings, visit our member college directory.

2014 is a Big Year for Texas Gulf Coast Community Colleges

Since you’ve found this blog post, you already know that the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges (TGCCCC) is taking some big steps this year. We have this brand new website to help us better communicate our efforts – as well as some huge initiatives we are implementing to better serve the Houston/Gulf Coast region.

You will notice in the main navigation of our website the Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) that we have implemented with the support of Exxon. Exxon and other petrochemical and oil & gas companies are building and expanding facilities in our region at an exponential rate. It is estimated that $35 billion will be spent on construction in the next decade, resulting in up to 22,000 construction jobs, alone. That doesn’t even account for the the tens of thousands of new technician and other full-time jobs that will be created inside the plants. Most of those jobs will require the training and education that an associate degree from our member colleges provides.

The supply of jobs at these petrochemical facilities is currently on pace to be greater than the number of workers in the region qualified to fill them. So, that’s why Exxon is helping TGCCCC recruit and educate students to help meet that demand. Along with the increase in students, our member colleges will need teachers to instruct and train them. We will be recruiting people with direct experience in these technical fields, who may be ready to retire from the petrochemical industry, to come to our campuses and help teach the next generation of workers. You will see us at events like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this month meeting and encouraging both potential new students and new teachers to apply at our colleges.

We also have similar initiatives in other fields, like healthcare, that we will launch later this year. Our region is booming with new, well-paying jobs in a variety of industries. It is our commission as members of the TGCCCC to make sure we are providing the education to local students that will help them fill those roles. So, please explore our new site and look at the exceptional pay structure for the petrochemical jobs and our other initiatives. Come join us as a student or instructor, or encourage someone you know to spend a couple of years getting an education that can change their future positively!

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