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Valley News Dispatch

Free training for gas pipeline jobs offered at IUP Northpointe campus in South Buffalo

Mary Ann Thomas
| Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, 12:12 p.m.
Ernie Stevens adjusts a pipe roll inside a machine lathe on the production floor of MCC International Inc. in Cecil-Bishop. The rolls the company produces allow steel mills to make a variety of shapes such as tubing for oil and gas drilling, railroad ties and structural steel for construction.
Tribune-Review
Ernie Stevens adjusts a pipe roll inside a machine lathe on the production floor of MCC International Inc. in Cecil-Bishop. The rolls the company produces allow steel mills to make a variety of shapes such as tubing for oil and gas drilling, railroad ties and structural steel for construction.

Armstrong County and the Gas Technology Institute are offering a free four-week training course beginning Monday for natural gas pipeline careers.

Local residents — including those from other counties — are eligible to enroll in the course, which is valued at $3,500.

They must pass a drug test and a background check.

There still were openings Wednesday for the class of 20 students, who will learn about gas pipeline work at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's campus in the Northpointe Technology Center, South Buffalo, according to Michael P. Coonley, executive director of the Armstrong County Department of Economic Development.

Potential students have until Friday to contact the program to enroll.

The course, featuring classes each weekday, is known as the “Natural Gas Utility and Pipeline Fuels Training Program.”

Jobs can start at $40,000 to $50,000, according to Patrick Findle, a senior program manager based in Pittsburgh for the Gas Technology Institute, which is a not-for-profit research and training organization headquartered in Chicago.

What is key about the training is that it is for pipeline work, which is a more stable profession than drilling wells, Findle said.

“There's a big need for workers because there's a lot of old pipelines needing refurbished, plus there's new gas pipelines,” he said.

“And there's a lot of employers — the utilities and businesses — who have been around the area for a long time.”

The first group of students who started in December will finish the program Thursday, and a job fair is planned with potential employers, Findle said.

Coonley stressed that the free classes are a great opportunity, especially those who would like to find a good-paying job and still live in the area.

There are jobs throughout the region for pipeline work, according to Coonley and Findle.

The drug and background screening is a plus, too, he added.

“It's a human resource director's dream because it shows that someone passed the screening and made it through the four-week program, showing that they are interested,” Coonley said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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