By Maggie Caraway
For the Opelika Observer

Registration for Technical Degree Programs is open now through Aug. 13 at Southern Union State Community College (SUSCC). 

SUSCC offers programs to prepare students for jobs in skilled trades or modern technology. Technical Education Career Coach, Shawn Mitchell, broke down the concept of technical degrees. “A technical degree is where you’re learning problem-solving with your mind,” he said.

“But you’re learning a skill or a trade … and you’re receiving an associate’s degree on working with your hands.”

The SUSCC website states, “The Technical Education and Workforce Division consists of three programs that lead to an Associate in Applied Science degree: Engineering and Design, Industrial Electricity/Electronics Technology and Manufacturing Technology and five programs which lead to an Associate in Occupational Technologies Degree: Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Automotive Service Technology, Cosmetology, Machine Shop Technology and Welding Technology.”

Additionally, “the college offers Certificate and Short Term Certificates within all of the previously listed technical programs for students, as well as Short Term Certificates in Plastics Injection Molding and Robotics and Automation. The Division also offers a six week non-credit, highly intense, 240 contact hour Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Training course for individuals pursuing a career requiring a commercial driver’s license. We also offer customized training for our business and industry partners through our Training for Existing Business and Industry (TEBI) unit. All of the technical division programs are housed on the Opelika and Valley campuses.”

 SUSCC allows individuals to get an in-depth look at each program through its website. There is a section for each program and a career outlook, program overview and the curriculum required are listed. Short videos of interviews with instructors and actual footage of students learning skills are also available for each program.

 Additionally, individuals can take a detailed tour of SUSCC’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing by clicking on the Technical Division Tour link located on its website. This allows viewers to feel like they are walking the hallways and visiting each room in person.

 Each technical degree offered by SUSCC takes five semesters to complete. This adds up to one year and nine months, but each course has “stackable credentials.” Mitchell said, “Stackable credentials is when you’re earning certificates for everything that you’ve learned this semester … Let’s say that for some reason you finished the first semester and then life happens. You have to take a semester off and come back and finish your four semesters a little bit later … With everything that you complete, it makes you more and more employable because you’re earning certifications in what you learn that semester.”

 SUSCC also offers paid internships in every technical degree category. Mitchell works with the students and instructors to find an internship that is right for them and works cohesively with their school schedule and workload. He said, “The benefits of the paid internships are gaining valuable work experience in the field being studied and earning money to put towards tuition or living expenses.”

 Students interested in earning an associate’s degree while working with their hands should contact Shawn Mitchell at 334-745-6437 or email before courses reach maximum capacity.