MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College’s Agriculture program is set to expand this winter, with the addition of a new Agricultural Mechanic training certificate and degree.
Agricultural program graduates are in high demand and have many career opportunities locally, and regionally. The agricultural sector is the largest employer in Grant County, accounting for 27% of jobs countywide and provides graduates access to opportunities in areas such as management, processing, crop production, and agricultural sales and services.
Agriculture mechanics is another area within the industry, and one that is currently experiencing growth and an increased demand for skilled workers.
“This particular field continues to see major advancements in technology, and it is becoming difficult to find trained technicians to meet the demand for this industry,” said BBCC Agriculture Mechanics Specialist Brett Iksic.
The new Agricultural Mechanic program will prepare students for entry-level mechanic technician positions. Some companies call these positions field technicians or precision farming or combine specialists, but employees in these positions could potentially make between $49,000 to $65,000 per year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Eastern Washington region ranked among the highest in the nation for top paying jobs in this occupation.
Iksic said some of the agriculture sector employers needing these types of positions include applicator companies, equipment dealerships and repair shops and small- and large-scale farms and co-ops.
However, other industries such as construction, mining and trucking, also employ workers with these same skills.
“If you have an interest in high-horsepower engines, hydraulics and cutting-edge electrical systems, this program is for you,” said Iksic.
Students interested in the Agricultural Mechanic program will have the option of pursuing either a one-year certificate or two-year associate degree.
Students will gain experience working with agriculture equipment and machinery, learning how they operate and function, and how to diagnose issues and make repairs, all with an emphasis on safety. Those pursuing the associate degree will receive more in-depth training in diesel, hydraulics and electrical systems.