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

Construction Trade Jobs In Demand

Industrial PlumberPlumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are among the occupations that have a bright job outlook, according to both federal and Texas projections. These jobs are forecast to increase by 21 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average for all jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor of Statistics. Locally, the Texas Gulf Coast region projects a 29 percent increase in occupations for pipefitters and steamfitters.

It should be noted that each of the occupations – plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters – are part of the same trade, which is construction. However, each occupation is specialized, even though they all share some similar tasks. Pipefitters, plumbers, and steamfitters assemble, install, change and repair pipelines or pipe systems that transport water, steam, air, or other types of liquids and gases.

The demand for these jobs can be attributed to several factors, including the flourishing petrochemical sector and a general lack of workers trained for those jobs.

Job Duties and the Workplace

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters perform the following tasks:

  • Install pipes and fixtures;
  • Analyze blueprints and follow state and local building codes;
  • Decide the amount of material and type of equipment needed;
  • Inspect and test pipe systems and pipelines that have been installed;
  • Troubleshoot systems that are not working; and
  • Replace worn parts.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pipefitters usually work in the manufacturing and petrochemical industries, where they’re installing large pipe systems that carry petroleum or chemicals, for instance. Plumbers, on the other hand, typically work in the residential area and light industrial construction. Steamfitters install pipe systems that move liquids or gases under high pressure conditions. Many steamfitters have jobs at large college campuses, industrial plants, or power plants.

Pipefitters, plumbers and steamfitters can earn up to $31.24  per hour. In May 2012, the median annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $49,140, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Training Future Pipefitters

Many pipefitters participate in apprenticeships offered by employers who provide hands-on training. Formal training is also available at community colleges like the member schools of the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges (TGCCCC), where students can receive top-notch instruction that takes into consideration industry requirements and industry best practices that will serve students well in their future jobs. The instruction in the classroom consists of teaching students the skills that they would learn in an apprenticeship program.

The TGCCCC member schools are in contact with companies in the petrochemical sector to stay updated about current practices, innovations and equipment that are being utilized in the field. Instructors then teach and share this valuable information with their students. Contact your local community college to learn more about degrees and certification programs that are being offered.

Jobs for the Next Wave of Machinists

Machinists - TGCCCCThe perception that the petrochemical and manufacturing fields have hazardous, gritty work environments where employees churn out repetitive, monotonous work could not be farther from the truth nowadays. Both of these technology-driven fields are flourishing – and providing high-paying jobs in safe, clean working environments – making the need for skilled workers such as machinists even more critical.

Machinists set up and operate a variety of powerful tools that are either computer-controlled or mechanically-controlled in order to produce accurate metal parts, instruments, and tools for engines and other automated products. As industries such as petrochemical and manufacturing experience surges, it’s vital to train future machinists to help keep jobs in the United States, which in turn benefits our economy.

The job outlook for machinists is favorable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast the demand for machinists to increase about 7 percent, adding about 29,000 jobs, through 2020. One of the reasons for the growth is because many employees who occupied machinist jobs are retiring, and machinist jobs will need to be filled by new, trained specialists.

In states such as Texas, the oil and gas sector is driving the demand for skilled workers, particularly in areas such as Houston, where the petrochemical industry is facing a shortage. While jobs are available for machinists in the Houston region, employers are having a difficult time finding people who possess the advanced skills and understanding of machining technologies to fill these positions. To help equip students with the training needed for these jobs, the member schools of the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges offer high-quality, affordable instruction regarding machining and other subjects that will prepare them for their careers with a two-year Associate Degree.

The Skills of a Machinist

Petrochemical and manufacturing companies make substantial investments in their equipment. A team of machinists will be responsible for operating various pieces of equipment. Therefore, it’s essential that machinists are team players with good communication skills. While a machinist doesn’t need to have a four-year degree, they should possess math and science skills. Machinists typically carry out the following duties:

  • Review and work from blueprints, computer-aided design (CAD), and other materials
  • Set up and operate various tools including computer numerical control (CNC) tools
  • Turn, mill, drill and grind machine parts to certain parameters
  • Plan and troubleshoot the production process
  • Oversee the feed and speed of machines
  • Examine and test completed products for accuracy

Machinists use a variety of tools (either manually controlled or CNC) such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders to produce precision metal parts. There will be a projected 18,775 jobs available in 2016 for machinists in the Houston region. The median hourly pay for machinists is $19.64.

The machinist trade is continually evolving, so machinists will need up-to-date training. Member schools of the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges offer reputable academic programs that will pave the way for the next generation of successful machinists.

Why Should I Work in the Petrochemical Industry and Why Now?

iStock_000000807449Smallv2When you’re growing up, your hopes and dreams for your adult life always lead to the glamorous side of life. You want to be a rock star, or an NFL running back, or maybe you want to go to Hollywood and be a big star. But, then, somewhere around high school you start to realize maybe you like small town life and maybe you won’t be one of the 0.1% of athletes who becomes a world champion NBA forward. And, that turns out to be better than OK – it turns out to be awesome, because there is a whole world of opportunity for success right in your own backyard.

Growing up in the Houston/Texas Gulf Coast area, you probably take for granted big corporate names like ExxonMobil. You forget that it’s one of the five largest companies in the entire world, and that its employees in Texas alone earn billions of dollars combined each year. In fact, petrochemical companies like ExxonMobil, Dow, and BASF have thousands of jobs open or coming open in the next decade. And, those jobs provide high pay scales, great benefits, and something no high school dreamer thinks about when dreaming glamorous dreams – stability. These companies are profitable, they’re expanding in our area, and they’ve lasted for decades and will last for decades more.

Some estimates of the petrochemical expansion in the Houston/Gulf Coast region put the total spent on new plants and expansions at $15 billion, with 20,000 new jobs created. So many jobs are open that companies can’t find enough skilled workers to fill them – and that’s just in our area. The huge new natural gas operations in north and west Texas and other parts of the country are also creating massive numbers of high-paying jobs for the same skill sets.

Pipe fitters, welders, and electricians are all in very high demand, and the salaries reflect the competition among companies for the trained workers out there. That’s why ExxonMobil has partnered, through Lee University, with our Consortium to help recruit and train as many skilled employees as possible. BASF has separately partnered with Brazosport College, another member, to train workers. And, all of this high demand is great news for you – because you can make a lot of money, with a two-year Associate Degree, right here and right now.

With this high demand and worker shortage, creating lots of overtime opportunities, many employees in the career fields we are training are making $100,000 or more each year. That’s comparable to what a lawyer or stockbroker at a big firm would make – but with six or more years of college education, instead of two. It sounds too good to be true, but you can browse the wage data in our Community College Petrochemical Initiative section and see for yourself. All of that data is from real-world sources, compiled by an independent agency.

We’re living in an interesting time right now. Because of the growing natural gas, oil, and petrochemical industries, there has probably never been a quicker path to high-income jobs for young people than there is right now. Who knows – maybe mechanical drafter will replace “running back for the Texans” as a dream job. Alright, alright – it never will. But hey, a high-paying, stable, local career with a community college education … that’s a pretty nice back-up plan!

Wanted: Community College Instructors in Houston

TGCCCC Petrochemical DegreesThe expanding petrochemical industry in the Houston/Gulf Coast region is providing opportunities for tens of thousands of students to get a two-year degree at our community colleges and go straight to work for high wages in the next decade. ExxonMobil and other petrochemical and oil & gas corporations are expected to have thousands more jobs opening in the next decade than they will have qualified applicants. So, they’ve given us the task of educating and training the workforce they need in the coming years. We’re more than happy to do that – it fits our member colleges’ mission to a T.

However, our Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) described on this site has left us with a little workforce issue of our own. Our member colleges don’t have enough instructors to teach all of those CCPI students! While we’re recruiting new students for these courses, we also have to recruit new teachers. Don’t get us wrong – it’s a great problem to have.

And, our need can be a big benefit to you, because you might be qualified to teach our courses even though you’ve never taken a teaching course and might not have a four-year degree yourself. For instance, if you’re an expert pipefitter and you have the experience and background to prove it, you might qualify to teach a piping course with only a high school diploma. If you have an associate or bachelor degree with more experience, that’s even better – but your skills and experience are what we really need to pass along to our students.

One great thing about our petrochemical industry in the Houston/Gulf Coast area is that the companies tend to get employees young and keep them. People often start with ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical or other petrochemical company in their early 20s, and because of good pay and benefits, they may be able to retire at 55 or 60. That leaves relatively young retirees with a lot of time and energy that they can put to good – and profitable – use by teaching the next generation of petrochemical workers. The hours are flexible, we have campuses all over the region, which ensures you a pretty easy commute, and the wages we pay vary by college, but they will be competitive on an hourly basis.

So, if you have an associate degree in computer technology and worked in computer maintenance for three or more years, you can have a second career teaching at one of our community colleges. Or, if you have an A.S. in welding and you’ve been a professional welder for three or more years, we need you to apply and come teach our students.

Every surging industry in the United States creates career opportunities at many levels. It’s up to you – and us – to identify the opportunities that fit you. These teaching opportunities in the vocational fields are historically rare, but the petrochemical boom is far from over – and it’s not the only growing industry in Texas. We need instructors and students in the healthcare field, as well.

Take a look at the petrochemical instructor page we have, and then go visit the individual community college job pages listed at the bottom to see openings at a college near you. You can apply for those openings online, or if you have questions, just contact the career departments for the individual schools. You may have a second career just waiting for you. And, you know it won’t be that annoying when your friends start calling you “Professor”!

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


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!