Building a new career

By Larry Hendricks

The Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician program at an Arizona college is filling a specific need for employers and employees.

William Gonzales, 24, recently applied for a job as an apartment maintenance technician in Flagstaff. He’d worked in that capacity before, and he had some general knowledge about the job.

But he didn’t have the “title,” he said, and he wasn’t called back for the position. Deciding it could have been a factor, he wanted to do something about getting the title, so he checked into the Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT) program offered through Coconino Community College (CCC).

On March 8, he got that title, and now his job prospects are looking up. Gonzales is one of 15 graduates of this year’s CAMT program.

“This program has taught me more than I could ever have known on my own,” Gonzales said. “I recommend it for anybody looking to move up. This process has been really quick and really detailed. It’s a great learning process for anybody.”

The program, now in its fifth year, grew this year to include more students to keep up with demand. Additionally, other communities in the county are looking to start their own programs with CCC’s help, including the city of Page, said Ken Myers, CCC construction technology management instructor.

“The more the town grows, the more maintenance technicians are needed,” Myers said.

The five-week training offers several certifications – CAMT, which is good in all 50 states, water and piping systems, refrigerants, and there’s training in pool maintenance. Myers also said that the certification is applicable to all industrial buildings, not just apartment complexes.

The tuition for the majority of the students, roughly $1,000, is covered by grant funding through the Coconino County Career Center and Vocational Rehabilitation. Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, a longtime partner in the program, offers scholarships for tuition and work-readiness assistance.

According to Myers, 95 percent of the students in the program have received some form of industry certificate. About 85 percent of the graduates left the program with jobs already lined up.

The success of the program is due to the fact that employers are getting qualified people who are industry trained. In fact, employers in Flagstaff are now looking for the CAMT certification when they put out hiring requests, and CCC is the only school in Arizona currently providing the training.

“When we ran the first CAMT training, I knew it was going to be something large,” Myers said, adding that employers are asking that CCC run more than one training a year. Additionally, communities like Tusayan and Page are looking into starting their own programs with CCC’s help.

Each community will have the program tailored to its needs. For instance, Myers said that the Page program will include certification in houseboat maintenance, and Tusayan will be geared more toward historic preservation and aligning older technologies with newer technologies.

Gonzales, who was born and raised in Flagstaff, strives to constantly learn new things in his life. The CAMT program offered him another opportunity. He’s ready to hit the workforce and stay in the community in which he was raised, and in which most of his family still lives.

“I feel I’ll be a valuable asset to any company out there,” Gonzales said.

New code training

CCC also is one of the first colleges in the country to begin instruction for Residential Building Inspector certification using the International Code Council’s 2018 International Codes.

The first class, nearing completion, is being taught by Christopher Young, building official for Coconino County.

“People about to enter the profession are immediately a commodity because it is the most current code,” Young said. “The whole state will be moving to it in the next six months to a year.”

The UCC International Codes are updated every three years, and government agencies in charge of enforcing building codes are required to update the codes used every six years. Coconino County, currently using the 2012 code, will be the first in the state to move over to the new code in July.

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Larry Hendricks

is the public relations coordinator for Coconino Community College in Flagstaff, Arizona.