WNC offers variety of career pathways in construction

Courtesy Steve Yingling, WNC

It was 100 years ago that Congress recognized the importance of vocational education by enacting the Smith-Hughes Act that provided federal funding for vocational agriculture training.

A century later, the importance of skill-related careers and training are also being emphasized closer to home. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell declared February as Career and Technical Education Month. Sandoval also recommended adding $21 million to the 2018-19 state budget for career and technical education at Nevada’s four community college, including Western Nevada College.

As more businesses and manufacturers relocate to Northern Nevada, construction is one industry where companies need more skilled workers and managers. is reporting that because of Nevada’s fast-paced growth, the construction industry is becoming the largest employer in the state.


“With the need for new schools, hospitals, housing and other commercial buildings only going up, the industry is going to need more and more quality workers to get all of the work done,” wrote. “Estimates are that over the course of the next several years, Nevada will hire over 35,000 people in the skilled trades. But the opportunities don’t end there. From skilled trade workers to designers, management positions and support staff, permanent, well-paying construction careers exist in all areas of the industry.”

WNC is doing its part to fill the employment pipeline by offering a variety of career pathways for individuals who are considering a career in construction.

Photo courtesy WNC
A Western Nevada College construction class is given a tour of a job site by Garrett Kooyers from K.G. Walters Construction.

Those interested in a construction career can prepare for the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Construction craft laborer credential at WNC. If individuals want a larger role in the construction industry, such as a manager or supervisory role, WNC offers accelerated programs and degrees.

“Construction is missing almost two generations of workers,” said WNC Director of Career and Technical Education Georgia White. “There are a lifetime of opportunities. Individuals may acquire basic skills and immediately gain employment or continue their education, especially through our Construction Management program, for a lifetime career.”

Cristian Avila went through WNC’s accelerated construction training program and after interning with Miles Construction in Carson City, he found work immediately.

“I love this program a lot; it helped me out a lot,” Avila said. “Nobody right out of high school has doors opened right away. You have to apply for jobs and all this, but right away, once I got into this program and I graduated, the following Monday I started work. I was getting paid well and I loved it.”

Construction companies need educated and skilled employees now to ensure that they have a skilled supply of workers to complete their growing number of projects. In February, hundreds of construction jobs were available in the Reno area.

Nevada Builders Alliance, a statewide professional organization representing the construction industry and affiliated sectors, is focused on workforce development.

“The biggest issue facing our industry in the coming years is a skilled workforce,” NBA writes on its website. “By educating our youth about the opportunities that exist, developing the programs necessary for them to flourish, and forming valuable collaborative partnerships, we ensure our industry’s future success.”

That’s where Western Nevada College and the Construction Gateway Academy come into play. The academy prepares men and women for entry-level positions to assist subcontractors and general contractors.

WNC’s Construction Gateway Academy focuses on accelerated training — a six-week program that provide students with nine credits, an OSHA 10 card and, most importantly, the skills to be hired as a craft laborer.

For individuals looking for a more comprehensive introduction to construction, WNC offers the Ramsdell Academy. Ramsdell Academy grads will earn 24 credits, three certifications from the National Center for Construction Education and Research and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration 30 card.

“The graduates of the Ramsdell Academy will be trained with the basic knowledge and skills to be a contributing member of whatever employer they go to work for, whether that’s a subcontractor or a general contractor,” said WNC construction instructor Nigel Harrison.

According to statistics, a craft professional or entry-level worker in construction will earn $30,000 to $60,000 per year.

Individuals interested in filling a larger role in the construction industry can pursue WNC’s 60-unit Associate of Applied Science degree in Construction and then the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Construction Management.

The desire to better himself has made Avila rethink his future role in the construction industry.

“Now that I’ve worked out in the field in the real world, I see myself coming back to school and becoming an inspector. I would like to become someone bigger than a laborer,” he said.

Crew leaders, superintendents, assistant project managers and project managers can earn from $60,000 to $160,000 annually, reported. Senior management and CEOs earn more than $160,000 per year.

“If you want to get into construction, now is the time and the sky is the limit,” Harrison said.

For more information about the construction programs WNC offers, contact Robert Ford at and 775-445-3353 or Harrison at and 775-445-4412.

Photos courtesy WNC

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