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Barr Construction Institute grads now 'journey workers'

Pay can top that of college grads, ceremony speaker says

August 22, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Barr Construction Institute graduate Derrick Faith, left, of Clear Spring, receives his electrical apprenticeship certificate from Carrol Shifler at a graduation banquet Thursday evening at the Ramada Plaza on Underpass Way.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Landing a good job may still be elusive for some in today’s economy, but workers on average can make $5,000 more a year in the skilled trades than college graduates, officials said Thursday night during a graduation ceremony for the Barr Construction Institute in Hagerstown.

The institute, operated by the Cumberland Valley chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors Inc., offers training in the electrical, heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and carpentry fields at a location on North Locust Street.

Graduates have completed four years of schooling while working, and for most students, companies pay their tuition, which is about $1,600 a year.

School officials said 25 graduates were being honored during the ceremony held at the Ramada Plaza on Underpass Way.

Among the officials speaking to the graduates was Bill Saxman, an apprenticeship field representative within the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, who talked about the comfortable living that the skilled trades can offer.

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Saxman said students completing four years of training in organizations like the Barr Construction Institute are classified as a “journey worker” in their respective trade. The average journey worker in all trades earns $50,000 annually, he said.

By comparison, the average college graduate who finds an entry-level position right out of college makes an average of $45,000 a year, he said.

Over a 40-year work career, the average journey worker earns in excess of $2 million, Saxman said.

A college graduate, who is sometimes saddled with huge debt from school loans, earns about $1.8 million over that same period, he said.

“I applaud you for having the wisdom to stick with it,” Saxman told the graduates.

“There’s enormous opportunity out there for you. I’m not just blowing smoke,” said Wilford Seilhamer, president of the Cumberland Valley chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc.

Among those graduating was Ronald Dwyer of Germantown, Md. Dwyer, who completed a four-year electrical apprenticeship, said he was able to land a job with a firm in Largo, Md., which paid for his tuition.

Dwyer said he hopes his new level of expertise will allow him to become a foreman with his company.

“It was a good opportunity to expand my learning,” Dwyer said.

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