ACC offering fast-track certifications for those looking to change career paths during pandemic


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Community College is offering a fast-track certification program that can provide those struggling during the pandemic with a new career path.

The college’s Certified Production Technician program is being offered as a virtual course that students can finish within eight weeks. It currently focuses on semiconductor manufacturing.

ACC partnered with local semiconductor companies and Workforce Solutions to offer the fast-track training program and help place graduates in entry-level technician positions once they complete the course.

Former Army mechanic Evelyn Aikins enrolled in the program to transition into the private sector. She says she had interviews with major Austin companies ahead of her class graduation on Friday.

“I actually did two interviews, one with Samsung and one with Applied Materials, and I’m excited to say I got both offers, so I’m going to have to weigh my options right now.”

Previously, the course was offered in person over a four-month period. Now, it’s almost entirely virtual, with an opportunity for hands-on learning at the end of the eight weeks.

ACC’s manufacturing department chair, Laura Marmolejo, says a lot of people are taking advantage of the program after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

“There’s been quite a few that come from different fields, or just they were in the service industry, or some of them have been from the IT industry,” Marmolejo said.

While many other industries are struggling, Austin Regional Manufacturing Association Executive Director Ed Latson says manufacturing companies are doing well and have a need for more technicians.

“There’s lots of opportunity in the semi conductor industry and electronics,” Latson said. “There’s probably four or five major employers here right now that are hiring.”

Latson says there’s also a lot of opportunity for those who make a career out of manufacturing, continuing with their education.

“In the next couple years, you’ll probably be making $60-70,000 a year with opportunities to make into six figures, if you do well,” Latson said.

“They don’t have to go to college for four years. They can start their career,” Marmolejo said. “I don’t call it just a job, I call it a career, because it’s an opportunity, even without the degree, for you to grow.”

ACC offers what Marmolejo calls stackable credentials. She says while students can begin working after the eight-week certification course, they can also apply that course as six credit hours down the road, should they decide to continue their education for additional opportunities.

ACC also offers fast-track certification programs in fields like business, information technology and healthcare.

ACC’s fall registration is open until Sunday, August 23. Classes begin Monday, August 24. 

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