August 13, 2020
Story and photo by Brandon Steinert
Video by Julie Munden
Kevin Wilson wanted to make a change, for himself and for his family, and he wanted it quickly.
“I didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore,” he said. “I wanted something a little more steady.”
Spending years in school was out of the question. Wilson sought out programs that would be efficient and effective. When he discovered Barton Community College’s Scale Technician program, he said it was the perfect fit.
The program takes only one semester to complete thanks to condensed coursework. Graduates enter the workforce with a Commercial Driver’s License and are qualified to test and certify commercial and noncommercial scales in Kansas and several surrounding states, which is something that must be performed on a recurring basis.
“For someone of my age, (the fast turnaround) was very much key,” he said. “It enabled us to interrupt our lives for a very short length of time, and to interrupt income for a short length of time. Then I got out on the job and started bringing in income right away.”
He said the cost is also reasonable at approximately $3,700 for the entire 25-credit-hour program.
The condensed coursework was intimidating at first, but Wilson said he stayed focused and worked hard, and surprised himself with what he was able to accomplish.
“You think it’s impossible at first, but I made straight A’s all the way through; every course,” he said. “It’s not impossible, and the instruction was wonderful. It’s a little intense at times, but overall it was wonderful. The instructors Vic Martin and Vince Orth never stopped until I fully understood what I needed to make me better prepared for the job.”
Life improved significantly for him and his family in June of 2019 when all his hard work paid off and he landed a job with Travis Scale Co. and the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle became a thing of the past.
“The income is definitely good, but the part I love most is getting to meet so many people from so many different walks of life,” he said, adding that every day brings a new challenge with his employer providing services in seven states. “You’re guaranteed to see the countryside. It’s not just one thing all the time; every day is different.”
Scale Technician Ty McGuire has a long history with Travis Scale Co. and worked with Wilson during his first weeks.
“It was great,” he said. “Normally if we're having to train someone ourselves it could take up to a year before they’re ready to go out on their own, and then if they don’t like it and they leave, we have to start over. Having Kevin come in from the Barton program was great because coming in the first day he knew a lot of what was going on. All he had to do was learn our expectations.”
McGuire said the company is working closely with Barton to keep the program relevant and the administrators are always checking in on the next class of students for potential employees.
“If they’re looking for help, they’ll do interviews while the students are still in the program,” he said. “We want to get them as quickly as we can.”
McGuire said the life of a Scale Technician has many benefits, including job security, novelty and a living wage.
“With a lot of industries, technology is taking jobs away,” he said. “As a Scale Technician, you’ll always have job security. We’ll always need people checking scales.”
Wilson said he’s proud of the pivot he made with his career and looks forward to many years working in the weights and measures industry.
“It was a very good move on my part,” Wilson said. “I really enjoy what I do.”
Those interested in more information about the program can visit scales.bartonccc.edu or email Instructor Vic Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.