In Northwest Arkansas, it’s common to see construction crews working on the latest developments like restaurants, office buildings or even Walmart’s new campus.
For those interested in a career in construction, NorthWest Arkansas Community College’s (NWACC) Workforce and Economic Development program is here to get them started on the right track. NWACC offers several learning paths in construction technology – students can pursue a certificate of proficiency, a technical certificate or an associate degree of applied science in the construction technology field.
Specializing in construction technology develops the skills to determine and obtain the best supplies needed for a construction project. NWACC’s certification includes teaching students how to estimate and schedule projects, surveying techniques and regulating codes of the industry. Whichever construction technology educational path a student chooses, it won’t take long to get to their destination. The two-year associate degree has the longest time commitment, followed by the technical certificate that can be completed in as few as three semesters, then the certificate of proficiency that can be obtained in one (18-hour) semester. All three educational paths include the following classes: Survey of Technical Math, Materials of Construction, and Construction Methods I and II.
Along with being a field of study that can result in a job much quicker than other higher education options, getting certified in construction technology at NWACC means you will learn about various principles, including some unexpected ones.
Ray Taylor, director of construction technology and building sciences at NWACC, mentions that design thinking is part of every entry-level class housed in the Integrated Design Lab (IDL), which is where the construction technology courses are taught.
The IDL contains courses in design, art and construction. It is also set up as a physical makerspace, allowing for opportunities to materialize designs. Among other tools, students will find an outdoor fabrication space, an overhead gantry crane, two printmaking presses, and a CNC router at the IDL. Construction technology students will be exposed to knowledge outside of their chosen field both by intentional teachings as well as through interactions with the design and art students that they will likely collaborate with during their time at the IDL.
When students complete their studies, they are eligible to perform in some of the higher-level positions on a construction project. Not only are there jobs out in the field – project engineers, field supervisors or superintendents – but also important administrative duties that need to be completed in an office, such as estimating, scheduling and data collection. Taylor is frequently contacted by local contractors looking for qualified people to join projects. These calls come from a variety of industries: framing, commercial construction, concrete work and more.
According to a recent report from Associated Builders and Contractors, the construction industry will need to attract an estimated 546,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2023 to meet the demand for labor, so it’s no surprise that many jobs within the field are seeking new specialized talent.
Many local contractors and subcontractors sit on NWACC’s advisory board, and therefore trust the quality of the skills that are being developed there. Currently, Taylor receives more job requests than there are students, proving that right now is a perfect time to explore a career in construction technology. It is a great way to earn a competitive wage and leave a mark to improve infrastructure in the community.
Learn more at NWACC.