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Apprenticeship to Degree: A New Path for Workers in the Trades

Factory Workers Internal Audit

Ryan Gibson is a Carroll Community College student enrolled in the Electrical Apprenticeship program. Gibson’s interest in the field stems from his love of working with his hands while engaging his mind in complex electrical projects.

“There are many creative aspects of the job that I enjoy and no matter how computerized society becomes, we will always need hands-on workers like electricians,” said Gibson.

The Demand for Qualified Workers in The Trades

While the changing landscape of the economy may lead to fluctuations in job openings, qualified electricians, HVAC technicians, and plumbers are currently in high demand, especially with the ongoing retirements of the Baby Boom generation and the population growth in the Mid-Maryland market. Gibson is just one example of workers who are contributing to this resurgence in the trades.

Earn While You Learn

Technician servicing a heating boiler

Carroll offers apprenticeship programs for electrical and HVAC workers. Programs provide a combination of classroom and on-the-job training for students who have a high school diploma or GED and prepares them for career positions as registered apprentices. These four-year programs include 600 classroom and 8,000 on-the-job training hours, all of which are instructed by seasoned practitioners in their field.

Apprenticeship students like Gibson are employed with a local business and under their supervision receive hands-on training to reinforce the skills learned in the classroom. Gibson works for Miles Electric Co., Inc., a Baltimore-based company. This “earn while you learn” format allows students to complete the program virtually debt-free, earn a progressive wage at the same time, and in most cases maintain employment with the same organization at the end of their apprenticeship.

Associate Degree Credit Available to Apprenticeship Completers

Recognizing the value of continued learning in career advancement, Carroll Community College now offers a new Apprenticeship to Degree program that addresses both the needs of the students and the increased market demand for advanced credentials.

Current and former completers of the three apprenticeship programs may now earn credit for prior learning and can be awarded 24 academic credits towards an Associate of Arts, Arts and Sciences degree at Carroll.

The primary benefits to students are:

  • They may now obtain a college degree in nearly half the time.
  • The degree is very affordable at half the cost of pursuing a degree in the traditional way.
  • They can learn additional skills such as business management. 

Adjunct Professor Alan Michael Ross, a Program Manager/Estimator at Miles Electric Co., Inc., observed that in addition to becoming competent in practicing the national electric code, students can advance their career in a convenient and flexible manner through the Apprenticeship to Degree option. “I wish I had received the benefit of turning an apprenticeship into a degree when I was learning the trade,” said Ross. “The advantages are excellent.”

Entrepreneurship Opportunities Abound

Industrial Air Conditioning Repair

With the influx of the younger generation entering the workforce, many of whom embrace a true entrepreneurial spirit, the Apprenticeship to Degree program opens doors to business ownership.

“There is a growing trend in entrepreneurship and self-employment, especially with the millennial generation,” said Carroll Director of Career and Continuing Professional Education Steven Berry. “With the Apprenticeship to Degree program, students can earn their apprentice credential and learn the additional skills needed to own and operate their own business.”

Benefits to The Community

“We need to encourage entry into the trades because these skills are especially needed in Carroll County,” said Berry. “Within our county, there is a growing need for the services provided by these trained professionals, and as local ‘mom and pop’ owners retire there is an immediate opportunity for new business start-ups.”

“What we provide,” Berry continued, “is an opportunity for students to maximize their educational opportunities at Carroll to better prepare them for a career with unlimited growth opportunities. We see this as a great opportunity that benefits both the students and the community.”