Process Technology

PTEC Trains Students for Careers in Industry 

Imagine being able to live in the East Bay while also working at a great job that doesn't require you to endure a long commute. Contra Costa County is home to a number of refineries, chemical-processing facilities, and related manufacturing industries that are looking for employees to work as process technicians.

When fully qualified as an operator, your wages plus overtime could be in excess of $100,000 per year. The Process Technology (PTEC) program at Los Medanos College prepares women and men to become refinery, chemical, and related industry operators. 

For many years, companies with large manufacturing operations in Contra Costa County, such as Chevron Corporation, Dow Chemical Company, Tesoro Petroleum Corporation, Shell Oil and ConocoPhillips have been going out of state, as far as Idaho and Texas, to find the skilled entry-level worker they need. New employees who have been recruited from other states have typically not stayed longer than two years due to the high cost of living in California.


Workforce star by the state chancellor's office

These companies are now facing a serious shortage of trained employees due to a number of baby boomers reaching retirement age. Together these companies will be hire between 50 and 100 new employees each year for the foreseeable future,” said Kiran Kamath, Dean of Occupational Education.

The Process Technology (PTEC) Program was developed at Los Medanos College in response to requests from local chemical and refining industries and provides students with training for high skill, high wage jobs needed in the manufacturing industry.

 The LMC program is modeled after a curriculum that is currently taught at 43 community colleges and universities around the United States and 2 international colleges. LMC is the only college in Northern California to offer this program.

Process technicians are skilled plant operators who work for chemical, refining, oil and gas production/refining, power generation, water, waste management, food manufacturing and related manufacturing companies. The process technicians who run these plants work with state-of-the-art computer control systems, work outside taking process samples and monitoring the equipment, and solve problems in a team environment. No two days are exactly alike.

Process technicians monitor and control mechanical, physical and chemical changes throughout many processes, turning out a final product made from raw materials. And these products can be found everywhere. An example, many of the ingredients are found in aspirin and antihistamines to shoes and sunglasses. Candles, cosmetics, DVDs, electricity, footballs, fuel, paper, plywood, tires and toothpaste are some of the many commodities manufactured by process technicians.

To qualify for the Process Technology program, students need to possess excellent math and communication skills, have good interpersonal skills, and be willing to learn the technical skills needed to succeed in process technology. The curriculum is a combination of hands-on labs, classroom lecture and site visits. The instructors all work in the industry or are recently retrained from the manufacturing industry. Starting salaries for these jobs begin at $45,000 - $65,000 a year. It’s not uncommon for some graduates to earn $100,000 annually, including overtime, after spending several years with a company.

Introductory classes leading to a minimum 3 semesters Certificate of Achievement or two year Associate in Science (AS) degree are held each semester at Los Medanos College. 

"This project is an equal opportunity program and was funded in part by a grant awarded under the President's Community Based Job Training Grants, as implemented by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Employment & Training Administration. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only."