November 14, 2017
Story by Micah Oelze
Photos by Brandon Steinert
On January 8, 2018, Scales Technician classes will begin as Barton Community College launches its newest program. The program is completed in one semester of vigorous training and preparing students for the weights & measures industry upon completion.
Scales are a vital part of agriculture and many other commercial businesses, but installing, maintaining and certifying them is a job easily overlooked by the public. They are used every day for items like grains, fertilizers, feedlots, railroad cars, grocery stores, packing companies, pawn shops and much more. Anywhere money changes hands in some fashion based on weight, commercial scales are used and required to be certified by state statute.
The industry is facing a shortage of skilled workers as many workers begin to retire. This program opens opportunities for those interested in starting a career in the industry or for those looking to advance their careers.
Barton’s Scales Technician Program consists of 25 credit hours in one semester with students in class for extended periods of time. Students focus on a course for one to two weeks, accomplishing the same number of hours put in throughout a traditional semester. The first-week students cover ‘tech math’, the math basics needed to do the job. From there, students take computer concepts, learn AD and DC electronics, safety and regulations, how to certify both analog and digital scales and finally acquire a class A or B Commercial Driver’s License.
Having a CDL program at Barton is a significant asset to the Scales Technician certificate, providing another element for their resume. For semi-truck scales, techs will drive a large truck onto a scale to assess the scale’s accuracy. When hauling this amount of weight to operate these and other vehicles legally, a CDL is required.
“Some companies do installations of large scales,” said Vince Orth, Barton’s Natural Gas and Scales Technician Instructor. “As a new employee, they might want to place you in the construction phase right away. Then you are talking a one-ton pickup with a trailer require a CDL. That will be a selling point."
There are plenty of other attractive selling points to the program. Coordinator and Instructor of Agriculture and Scales Vic Martin who also instructs classes in the Scales Technician program said this program is special.
“This is the only program of its kind in the Midwest,” Martin said. “The State of Kansas will recognize this certificate as the training to get your certificate from the state to certify scales. Once working with a company, the state will provide you a license to certify scales.”
Certain personal traits will also help students to succeed in this career. Often scale techs live far from headquarters and work alone, so motivation and dedication are crucial factors in this line of work. Hard work is noticed in a growing job market, and government regulations help provide scale technicians with job security.
“Each state has rules and regulations about scales needing to be certified as accurate and working properly. In the state of Kansas, once every 365 days a scale must be certified or after major repairs,” Martin said. “There are thousands and thousands of these scales.”
Orth added, “The thing about a job where federal and state regulations say ‘you shall’ re-certify every scale every 365 days, the job is there, and it provides a little bit of job security.”
For more information, please contact Instructor and Coordinator of Agriculture Vic Martin at email@example.com or (620) 792-7207.