Two-year Degrees Provide Ample Career Paths For Advanced Manufacturing Jobs

Two-year Degrees Provide Ample Career Paths For Advanced Manufacturing Jobs

10:46pm Apr 04, 2015
Ed Beane started as a machine operator at Asheboro-based PEMMCO Manufacturing making $21,000 annually. Four years later, with experience and a machining certificate, Beane’s salary has nearly doubled.
Julie Knight/The Triad Business Journal

Society has long pushed students to pursue the traditional four-year college degree, citing it as the ultimate path to success. But many local manufacturers say there are plenty of high-paying, high-demand jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.

Katie Arcieri, a reporter with the Triad Business Journal, says two-year degrees in areas such as machining and welding are in high demand in the Triad, where manufacturers have struggled for years with a shortage of qualified workers. In her story in the newspaper, she says employment opportunities are expected to grow.

“We are talking about everything from welders to assembly technicians to machinists. All of these companies locally such as Caterpillar, Deer-Hitachi in Kernersville, and Pemmco manufacturing in Asheboro are all craving for people to fill positions there.”

According to the latest information from NCWorks Online, a digital resource for state job seekers and employers, the estimated number of machinists employed in the Triad is expected to increase 5.2 percent from 2,250 as of 2012 to 2,368 by 2022. Meanwhile, the estimated number of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers employed in the Triad is expected to grow about 1.4 percent from 1,732 as of 2012 to 1,757 by 2022.

“In some cases, work force and community college officials tell me that many two-year degree students are landing jobs in advanced manufacturing before they even graduate,” says Arcieri.

“Given the fact that average college debt in North Carolina was more than $24,000 for students graduating from public and private nonprofit four-year institutions in 2013, careers that only require a two-year associate degree may be an attractive financial option.”

The Business Report on 88.5 WFDD is a partnership with the Triad Business Journal. You'll find Katie Arcieri's stories and more breaking business news at

Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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