LILLINGTON — Eighth graders from Overhills Middle School got an up-close look Wednesday at some career options during two tours of Central Carolina Community College’s Harnett County Campus.
Tours led by recruiters from various programs at the college, such as machining and computer technology, as well as current students from programs such as cosmetology gave the eighth-graders a glimpse of what career fields could be available to them if they choose to enter one of CCCC’s many programs.
“If you know how to do one welding process in North Carolina, you can make about $35,000 per year. That’s not too bad,” said Charles Bell, a certified welding instructor at the campus, located in Lillington. “If you know two processes, you can make $45,000 to $50,000. If you’re one of the all-stars — and that’s not everybody, but if that’s you, you could make $100,000 per year. That’s a good salary.”
It wasn’t just welding, though. The students heard from experts in fields as diverse as lasers and computer technology.
Gary Beasley, the lead instructor for CCCC’s laser program, told the students that the college’s two-year program, which was established in 1987, gives students a wide array of job opportunities across the country. He showed the eighth graders slides containing information from former students of his who have gone on to jobs in places as wide ranging as Raleigh, Florida and even Wisconsin.
But it wasn’t just about where the students could work or how much money they could make. Bell showed students videos of welding processes, the equipment they’d have to wear as welders, and even some model airplanes that had been welded together during their assembly.
Beasley explained to the students the difference between stimulated emission (a laser pointer) and spontaneous emission (a flashlight), and told them laser technology has uses in various fields including entertainment, military, and medicine.
“How do you know if laser technology is a field you’ll like?” he asked the students. “The biggest indicator to me is that you’re a problem-solver.”
Raymond Polak, a recruiter for the college’s computer technology program, explained that job opportunities in that field are many.
“Eight of the 12 fastest-growing fields are computer-related,” he said. “Pretty much any business you go into today, what do you see sitting on the desk? A computer.”
Polak also said the computer technology field will probably only continue to grow, given the relatively new technology involved in the Internet.
“The first computers came around in about 1890. The Internet has only been around since about 1990,” he said. “So the Internet is still pretty new. You guys are the first generation that’s totally come up in the information age.”
Overhills Middle School Assistant Principal David Frazier said the campus tours were good for the students because they’re at the age where many of them begin thinking about their futures.
“If you don’t know it’s out there, you won’t know to strive for it,” he said. “And these courses that teach the kids about skilled trades are of incredible value because a four-year university degree just isn’t for everyone. And, in any case, the day of just being able to make it in the world with a high school diploma is long gone.”
CCCC’s Harnett County’s Campus is located at 1075 E. Cornelius Harnett Blvd., in Lillington. For more information on the college’s programs, visit its web page, www.cccc.edu