As Baby Boomers Age, Cardiopulmonary Healthcare Jobs Demand Increases

Within the next five years, 76 million baby boomers or one-fifth of the entire U.S. population will begin to turn 75, hitting the age of chronic diseases and extensive healthcare treatments. As a result, there is an increasing demand for medical assistants and medical technologists in the next few years. At Gulf Coast Community Colleges, we offer a wide range of associate programs in the healthcare field. Each of them targets a particular demand, such as dental hygienists, medical lab technicians, or cardiopulmonary technicians, and each requires different skills sets and interests from students.
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If you’re interested in studying the cardiopulmonary system – the heart, lungs, and veins – and working with the newest medical technology, you might find cardiopulmonary jobs very fascinating. Healthcare jobs opportunities in the field include: cardiovascular technologist, respiratory care therapist, and cardiac/telemetry technician.

Cardiopulmonary Jobs Outlook

The demand for cardiopulmonary treatment is going up. As baby boomers age, heart and lung diseases are among the most common and life-threatening chronic illnesses that require regular therapy and rehabilitation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 600,000 Americans die from heart disease every year, which makes it the leading cause of death in the U.S.

The jobs for which we provide training offer a balanced blend of knowledge about heart and lung function, medical technology, and personal interaction with patients. Different from purely technical career technologist, respiratory therapist jobs or cardiac/telemetry technicians will go beyond operating medical equipment to interact and take care of patients on a personal level.

Finally, similar to other healthcare jobs, cardiopulmonary jobs are generally well-paid. With an associate degree, you can begin with median wages of $24 to $28 hourly. Cardiac/telemetry technicians can earn more, with an average of $37 per hour.

Cardiovascular Technologist, Respiratory Therapist or Cardiac/Telemetry Technician?

All cardiopulmonary jobs focus on performing tests and operating therapeutic equipment, but the degree of technological involvement and patient interaction vary among position.

If you prefer working purely with technology, cardiovascular technologist is probably the right choice for you. This position mainly focuses on conducting tests for diagnostic purposes. You will run tests like electrocardiograms and cardiac catheterizations to determine pulmonary functions and lung capacity.

If you are more interested in interacting with patients, then cardiac/telemetry technician and respiratory therapist jobs might be good fits. While the former treats patients in critical care units, the latter provides temporary relief to patients with chronic asthma or emphysema, as well as emergency care to patients who are victims of a heart attack, stroke, drowning or shock.

Even though some employers only require a high school diploma and provide on-the-job training, candidates without an official degree are likely to earn less than average and take longer to move up. However, with a two-year associate degree program at one of the Gulf Coast Community Colleges, you will learn how to operate technologically advanced equipment. At the same time, you can improve your written and verbal communication skills to ensure clear understanding between physicians, you, and patients. Apply for an associate degree in cardiopulmonary now to have better career advancement opportunities in the healthcare jobs market.

Dental Hygienist – Future Outlook, Desired Skills and Education

If you are interested in dentistry, yet you think time and money are your restraints from getting an education, you might want to consider a dental assistant or dental hygienist job. Dental assistants play a support role for a dentist, and dental hygienists work directly with patients to provide preventative dental care and advice. Both can play important roles with every single patient by developing trusting relationships and providing valuable dental services. Best of all, a two-year associate degree qualifies you to go to work!
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Job Outlook for Dental Hygienists

With an increasing awareness about the link between oral health and overall health, people tend to visit dental hygienists for oral health check-ups and preventative dental care advice more regularly. Therefore, there has been a growing demand for dental hygienist jobs in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job demand will increase 33 percent by 2022, making it one of the fastest-growing careers. Additionally, salaries for dental hygienists are very competitive, with an average hourly wage of $35.87 or an annual income of more than $74,000. Most dental hygienists can also work flexible hours, either full-time or part-time for a few days a week.

Responsibilities and Desired Skills for a Dental Hygienist:

Dental hygienists perform a variety of tasks from dental care and oral health education to office activities:

  • Perform screening procedures: assessment of oral health conditions, including health history, oral cancer, head and neck inspection, review of blood pressure and pulse
  • Take and develop dental X-rays
  • Clean teeth and apply preventive materials such as sealants and fluorides
  • Educate patients about daily preventative dental care as well as the impact of good nutrition on oral health
  • Complete other administrative tasks

Besides technical expertise, dental hygienists should develop strong interpersonal skills such as communication, flexibility and creativity:

  • Communication: Besides performing technical healthcare services, dental hygienists talk with people from different backgrounds to educate them on daily dental care. Additionally, they will have opportunities to work with special groups such as children, the disabled, and the elderly.
  • Flexibility: Dental hygienists sometimes work into the evening or during weekends. They can also be hired to perform services in other settings such as schools, rural communities, or even private home visits.
  • Creativity: Since dental hygienists work with such diverse groups and in various settings, it is important that they find different ways to approach patients and deliver their services.

Dental Hygienist Associate Degree Program: Start a Career or Prepare for Higher Education

While many four-year schools offer undergraduate and graduate degree in dental hygiene, you can typically save much time and money by obtaining an associate degree in dental hygiene with one of the TGCCCC member schools. After two years focusing on relevant coursework, a graduate can obtain a dental hygiene license to start practicing in any dental office. Another option would be to transfer credits and continue with the bachelor’s degree or pursue dental school. Whichever the option you choose, a two-year degree in dental hygiene would not only give you hands-on experience in dentistry services, but also help you pay for higher education by working in the industry for a few years.

If you are interested in pursuing a dental hygiene job, you can start to learn more about our associate degree programs offered by the Texas Gulf Coast Community Colleges.

Pipefitters Have Great Career Opportunities in Our Region

Pipefitters play a major role in the construction and maintenance of plant site systems. Pipefitting fabricators generally install and maintain pipe systems in power and petrochemical plants, as well as heating and cooling systems in large office buildings. As mentioned on our CCPI page about pipefitting, pipefitters and steamfitters typically lay out, assemble, install, alter, and repair pipelines or pipe systems that carry water, steam, air, lubrication, or other liquids or gases for industrial production and process systems. Additionally pipefitters apply pipe system knowledge and blueprint reading capability to select pipe size and type, related equipment and materials such as pipe supports, hangars, and hydraulic supports systems according to required specifications.

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Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters may use many different materials and construction techniques, depending on the type of project. Residential water systems, for example, use copper, steel, and plastic pipe that one or two plumbers can install. Power plant water systems, by contrast, are made of large steel pipes that usually take a crew of pipefitters to install. Some workers install stainless steel pipes on dairy farms and in factories, mainly to prevent contamination. Plumbers and fitters sometimes cut holes in walls, ceilings, and floors. With some pipe systems, workers may hang steel supports from ceiling joists to hold the pipe in place. Because pipes are seldom manufactured to the exact length needed, plumbers and fitters measure and then cut and bend lengths of pipe as needed. Their tools often include saws and pipe cutters.

Earning your training and education with Texas Gulf Coast Community Colleges will position you in a place to succeed as a pipefitter. Occupations at this level generally require more than 12 months of on-the-job training combined with work experience and formal classroom instruction for workers to develop the skills needed for normal job performance. This category includes formal and informal apprenticeships and short-term, intensive, employer-sponsored training that workers must successfully complete.

Several of our colleges offer curriculum designed for a successful career in pipefitting. We offer many programs that put you on the fast track to becoming a pipefitter. For instance, Brazosport College emphasizes hands-on classroom training and provides college credit for on-the-job work experiences. At Lee College, the pipefitting program places special emphasis on hands-on training using its three large and completely equipped labs. Blueprint reading and isometric sketching are given special attention as requested by local industries. Threading pipe, socket-weld and butt-weld pipe fabrication skills and the mathematics needed to build a foundation in this career are all fully covered. Students in training are generally considered to be employed in the occupation, and our community college member schools will give you the tools needed to succeed at a fraction of the cost of a majority of college programs.

What a Degree in Pipefitting Offers

Pipefitters are employed by pipeline construction contractors, maintenance contractors and subcontractors, thermal or steam generating plants, manufacturers, utility companies, oil refineries, gas plants, pulp mills and chemical plants. Pipefitters can expect to progress from entry-level helper, to journeyman to supervisors as their knowledge and experience increases.

Hourly wages for pipefitters can range anywhere from $16 to $25 an hour, while some senior pipefitters will make more. The median wage for all pipefitters is about $25 an hour, but because demand is high in the Gulf Coast region, many pipefitters will work overtime for time-and-a-half wages or more.

Annual income for pipefitters varies widely depending on their hourly wages and the number of hours they work in a year. However, most pipefitters earn somewhere between $35,000 and $75,000 annually. Job opportunities are on the rise since many people working in pipefitting are expected to retire within the next 10 years.

Employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Construction of buildings and the need for new septic systems should drive demand for these workers. Overall job opportunities are expected to be good as some employers continue to report difficulty finding qualified workers. Especially in the Gulf Coast and surrounding areas, the economy is humming with a strong need for pipefitting fabricators. You can rest assured that Texas Gulf Community Colleges will prepare you for success in this thriving market.

Petrochemical Manufacturing is a Bright Spot in Today’s Oil and Gas Sector

There has been much doom and gloom in the news lately about the price decline in crude oil, and an impending oil bust in Texas. Oil prices have plummeted by more than 50 percent since June 2014. Currently, crude oil prices are hovering around $50 a barrel. The price per barrel is forecast to dip as low as $31 by the end of first quarter 2015.
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The grim outlook may make you think that the oil and gas sector will suffer, so it may not be wise to work in the industry because there may not be as many jobs. However, this isn’t true. Petrochemical manufacturers actually benefit from reduced oil prices. Outside of the oil and gas sector, even the airline and express delivery industries also stand to benefit from the low oil prices.

To help you understand how petrochemical manufacturers gain from low oil prices, let’s first cover why crude oil prices are falling.

Supply and Demand Issues Contribute to Oil Price Drop

An oversupply of oil is one contributing factor to the oil price decline. Domestic production of oil in the U.S. has surged over the last few years, so oil imports from countries such as Saudi Arabia weren’t needed as much. Those countries that once sold oil to the United States are now competing in the Asian markets. As a result, the oil-producing countries are lowering prices of petroleum.

The drop in oil prices can also be attributed to a lagging demand globally. For instance, in both European and developing countries, the economies are sluggish and consumers are driving more energy-efficient vehicles.

Petrochemical Costs Are Falling

Petroleum and natural gas serve as the raw materials used to extract hydrocarbons such as ethane, propane, and butane, which are then used as feedstocks for petrochemicals. Ultimately, these petrochemicals are used to manufacture the end products. Petrochemicals can be found in so many products that we use every day including cosmetics, furniture, appliances, TVs, radios, items made of plastic, and even medicines.

With the dip in crude oil prices, there has also been a subsequent drop in derivative petrochemical costs. Key petrochemicals in the U.S., such as ethylene, propylene, benzene and methanol are experiencing some of their lowest prices since 2009 when crude oil was about $50 per barrel.

So, the reduced crude oil prices provide petrochemical manufacturers with cheaper feedstocks such as ethane and propane. Steven Craig, a University of Houston economist, sums it up in this KHOU-TV report:

“When petroleum is cheap, petrochemicals do better,” Craig said.

Petrochemical Industry, Manufacturers to Experience Growth

The U.S. petrochemical industry is expected to keep expanding in 2015 amid the upstream oil and gas sector woes. The industry has been investing billions to grow and build new plants to leverage the inexpensive domestic crude oil. Industry experts are optimistic that any surges in oil prices won’t diminish growth around Houston and the Gulf Coast region, according to a Houston Chronicle article that ran in Dec. 2014. The article reports that the industry has planned 215 projects valued at $133 billon. Those projects include building new plants, re-opening shuttered facilities, and expand existing facilities

The future is bright in 2015 for petrochemical manufacturers. So, don’t put your career in the petrochemical industry on hold because of dropping oil prices. There are still many career opportunities for you to explore at petrochemical manufacturing companies. The Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges (TGCCC) has knowledgeable instructors who can teach you the skills needed for high-paying, petrochemical-related jobs. Learn more about TGCCCC’s Community College Petrochemical Initiative and read more about the type of jobs that are available in the industry as well as the courses you need to take.

Pursue a Degree and Career in the Field of Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering is one of the newest and fastest growing career fields in the petrochemical industry, with more than 16,000 entry level jobs available. Electrical engineering technicians design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment on industrial sites.  They work with a wide array of devices, components and systems from tiny microchips to huge supercomputers. To become one, a person must have a certificate or Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology and may be required to complete a nationally certified Apprenticeship program, where an apprentice must complete 2,000 hours of supervised work.

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That is where Texas Gulf Coast Community Colleges come in. Earning your two-year degree through one of our member schools will help to lay the foundation for your success in a career you love. Colleges like San Jacinto or Alvin College offer hands-on, interesting classes such as Electrical Theory, DC/AC Circuits Fundamentals, Computer Networking Technology, and Fundamentals of Electronics and Math. These courses will pave the way for your associate degree, as well as help you enhance your critical thinking, reading comprehension, problem solving, and troubleshooting skills.

The type of industries you can expect to work in with an A.S. in electrical engineering include:

  • Research and Development
  • Engineering services firms
  • Manufacturing
  • The Federal Government

In addition, students who complete their associate degree in electrical technology may often find themselves working for large industrial plants, public utilities, government agencies, electrical contractors, building contractors, and construction companies. Electrical engineers and technicians also work less commonly in department store chains, hospitals and school districts.

What a Degree in Electrical Technology Offers

If you decide to move forward with this career path, the average salary is something our students will appreciate. Generally, electrical engineering technicians can expect to earn anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000 per year with an associate degree. In 2014 the median pay was about $30 per hour or more than $60,000 per year. And, you will be in good company should you choose this career path. Several famous electrical engineers are Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla.

One of the hardest challenges for college students is finding a career with available jobs when they graduate. Prospective students should know that a career in the petrochemical industry guarantees a job in the field. Exxon Mobile is coordinating programs in our community colleges to share expertise and has committed to $500,000 for a workforce training program. There are thousands of jobs coming to the Houston area and across the Gulf Coast because of this huge new investment in the chemical industry.

“The chemical industry supports 73,000 high-paying Texas manufacturing jobs and will add more under announced expansion plans by our industry, including at ExxonMobil,” said Steve Pryor, President of the ExxonMobil Chemical Company.

Houston and the surrounding area have a thriving electrical engineering field, and if you’re interested in an electrical engineering degree, there will be plenty of jobs and opportunity awaiting you.

Put Your Creative and Science Skills to Work with CADD

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If you like art, math, and science, you’re a great candidate for an associate degree in Drafting/Design technology. You’ll learn how to use computer-aided drafting & design (CADD) technology to make drawings and computer simulations support architects or mechanical, electrical, or industrial engineers.

You may also study manufacturing processes, electrical and wiring processes, or building materials and engineering practices, depending on how you want to specialize with your drafting skills. An associate of applied science degree puts you on the path to becoming an architectural or civil drafter, electrical or electronics drafter, or a mechanical drafter.

You’ll learn not only CADD tools, but also traditional methods of drafting blueprints and diagrams. Drafting jobs are good for creative people, because you don’t create the same schematic or drawing twice! They also pay well, with a median annual salary in the Houston/Gulf Coast area of nearly $50,000.

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​Drafters must have a good eye and enjoy detailed work. You’ll also need to have good communications skills because you’ll work with planners, architects, and engineers to perfect diagrams and implement what they need accurately. You’ll help translate their ideas and designs into blueprints and technical diagrams that construction workers can actually use to build things, that electricians can use to run wire properly, and even so plumbers can run piping correctly. Most of your work will occur in an office environment, working on a computer, but you may also have the opportunity to go see your diagrams and designs put to use on a building site or work floor.

Here’s the best part – you can get your associate degree in drafting technology in two years at one of our community college member schools at a fraction of the cost of some online private schools. Our tuition and fees are extremely affordable, especially for students who reside in the district. You can find our communities colleges and their services areas here. Houston’s petrochemical and manufacturing industries are growing exponentially, and if you’re interested in a drafting degree, you’ll have plenty of jobs to choose from when you graduate.

Supply Chain Management – More Than a Buzzword

supply-chain-background-concept-glowing-13489447The supply chain is a critical system used by many companies that involve multiple parties such as manufacturers, suppliers, transporters, and warehouses that all contribute to the movement of products from the point of origin to consumers. Specific functions of the supply chain can include distribution, marketing, new product development, finance, and operations.

Because there is continual movement in the supply chain process, any disruption could negatively impact a company’s revenue and profit and leave customers dissatisfied. You only have to look at a recent iPhone issue that Apple faced to see how a supply chain can be affected.

The production of display panels for Apple’s iPhone 6 was interrupted when the backlight used to brighten the screen had to be changed, according to Reuters. The redesigned display screen slowed the production of the iPhone 6 because the screen assembly had to be paused. Production has resumed, but suppliers are scrambling to quickly produce a sufficient amount of screens for the iPhone’s anticipated launch this fall. It’s unclear how the issue will affect the launch.

As the above example illustrates, any setback in the supply chain process could have ramifications that ripple across the process. It’s important to have supply chain managers who can oversee the life cycle of goods, anticipate any issues, and respond accordingly so movement of goods won’t be disrupted.

Supply chain management professionals are in demand across several industries, including oil and gas, automotive, food and beverage, and electronics. There are many opportunities to work in various areas of the supply chain such as logistics, inventory control, purchasing and more.

Supply Chain Manager Skills, Responsibilities and Salary

Supply chain managers have several responsibilities, such as:

  • offer guidance on selection of suppliers
  • analyze pricing trends that may impact the time of purchases
  • coordinate the activities involved with the distribution of the products
  • manage the process of identifying and securing materials

Another supply chain management professional is a logistic technician/manager. Their duties include:

  • plan, oversee, or coordinate transportation, storage, or distribution of goods and services
  • develop both strategies and forecasting plans to keep sufficient inventory by serving as the liaison between company and supplier
  • confirm products are arriving at their destinations in a timely fashion

Individuals who pursue supply chain management careers usually possess solid problem-solving skills, good time-management skills, an ability to see “the big picture” and details, and cab collaborate well with others.

In Houston and the surrounding area, there is a projection of nearly 50,000 supply chain management jobs by 2016. The hourly wage at the high end of the pay scale is $54.34. There will be an estimated 4,320 logistician jobs by 2016 with hourly wage of $65.77 (high pay).

The member colleges of the Texas Gulf Coast Community College Consortium (TGCCCC) offer programs of study in both logistics and supply chain management. Contact a TGCCCC member school to learn more about the coursework and career opportunities in this exciting and challenging field.

ExxonMobil Projects that are Bringing So Many Jobs to the Gulf Coast

ExxonMobil Chemical Company is making it’s most expensive investment in the United States, ever, with its expansion of the Baytown plant. ExxonMobil is installing one of the largest steam crackers in the world at Baytown, making it the largest producer of ethylene for the company. Steam cracking is used to break petroleum down into more useful elements for humans.

ExxonMobil is also adding  two new units to the Mont Belvieu plastics plant. Texas will become ExxonMobil’s largest polyethylene supply point in the world when that project is finished. This capacity increase will help ExxonMobil meet the rapidly growing global demand for high-value polyethylene products.

This video explains more about the projects.

ExxonMobil Celebrates Construction Project and Petrochemical Scholarship Recipients

ExxonMobil celebrated last week the announcement of a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker construction project at its Baytown complex, and marked the occasion by recognizing 30 scholarship recipients who plan to pursue petrochemical careers.

The expansion project will employ about 10,000 construction workers, create 4,000 related jobs in nearby communities, and add 350 permanent positions at the Baytown facility.

More than 50,000 construction trades and petrochemical workers will be needed in the next decade across the Texas Gulf Coast region as refineries expand their capacity and replace retiring workers.

ExxonMobil petrochemical scholarship recipients

Steve Pryor, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, stands alongside 30 students recently selected by their local community colleges to receive scholarships for petrochemical training.

To help fill the demand for skilled workers, ExxonMobil has committed $1 million to the Community College Petrochemical Initiative, a collaboration between nine Texas Gulf Coast community colleges.  The initiative aims to recruit and train the next generation of petrochemical workers.

Booming Texas Cities – Infographic

In 2013, four cities in Texas were considered the fastest growing cities in America, and that trend continues on into 2014. The economic growth of the four cities – Houston, Austin, Odessa, and Dallas – can be seen throughout the cities’ infrastructure, from their low unemployment rates to their high gross metropolitan products. Texas’ fast-growing economy and easy recovery from the recent recession in the late 2000s can be attributed to its business-friendly regulatory environment, lack of state income tax for corporations or people, and highly-educated labor market.

People aren’t the only ones flocking to live in Texas. Major corporations believe in the Lone Star state, as well. We hold the record for the most Fortune 500 companies headquartered in any state and other businesses like Toyota, State Farm and ExxonMobil are helping to bring thousands of jobs to further grow the booming state. Find out more about how these cities and companies are helping to make Texas the great state that it is.

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Booming Texas Cities Infographic