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For many years, jobs in the building industry were a big part of our state's economy, and young people often chose a career in the construction industry.
And while those job opportunities have been harder to come by in the past few years, there are still ways to get a job in the building industry through both formal and apprenticeship education.
Apprenticeship programs in the skilled building trades always have been a great way for someone to get a job in the industry, and those programs are still available through community colleges and trade unions.
A popular trade program is the carpenter's apprenticeship offered by the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, (313) 832-3887,www.hammer9.com.
Don Kissel, director of the Detroit Carpenters Apprenticeship School in Ferndale, (248) 541-2740, said around 300 apprentices are in the program.
He said that during the term, the apprentice is paid an ascending scale of wages ranging from approximately 44 percent of the journeyperson's scale when training begins to 85 percent during the final period of apprenticeship.
"With the current job situation in Michigan, we are seeing a lot of older apprentices in the program in addition to some right out of school," Kissel said. "Going through the apprenticeship program is a great way to learn a trade, have a job when you are done and not have a lot of student loans to deal with after you graduate."
For the four-year program, applicants need to get a letter of sponsorship from a union contractor.
The school also gets apprentices from the government's Helmets to Hard Hats program, which helps military men and women transition into the construction industry after they complete their active duty.
In addition to an apprenticeship program, many community colleges and universities also offer degrees in construction disciplines.
In the Detroit area, Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, offers a bachelor of science degree in construction management that prepares students for a variety of jobs in the construction industry.
Frank Carnovale is an adjunct professor in the construction management program at Lawrence Tech and the owner of Carnovale Associates, an architectural and building company in Birmingham.
He said the curriculum covers both the commercial and residential side of construction, and students have many career options after graduation, including construction supervisors, project managers, construction estimators, or they can work in the specialty trades such as electrical or HVAC companies.
In addition to the broader construction management degrees, schools like Ferris State University, www.ferris.edu, also offer more specific degrees for those interested in going into the construction industry, such as the associate and bachelor's degrees in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technology.
Douglas Zentz, an associate professor and the HVACR program coordinator, said the continued increase in technological advancement in home and building HVAC systems has made graduates from the associate and bachelor's programs in high demand.
Zentz said career opportunities for students in the associate degree program who want to become service technicians are multiplying with technological advances in the use of microcomputers for data processing and system control.
"The graduate employment level and the demand are particularly high for those in our associate degree program, where they often have multiple jobs to choose from," Zentz said.
Education in the trades brings strong employment opportunities. Make it a point to pass this article along to either a high school senior in your family, or friends with a child considering career options.
If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.
Note: This article was accurate at the date of publication. However, information contained in it may have changed.
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