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March 07, 2000
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t people of a certain age will never forget the advice Benjamin received in "The Graduate" - "get into plastics young man". Increasingly high-tech is the place to be, but there are many ways to make nice money high-tech, aside from being a dot-com billionaire.

With today's high-tech jobs reportedly paying 78 percent more than the average wage, job seekers looking to acquire top skills and good pay would do well to explore the field of technology services.

Technology services -- the installation, repair and support specialties need for the computer age -- will account for some of the fastest growing occupations in the future, according the Department of Labor.

One of the most promising areas in technology services is information cabling -- the electrical wiring that brings voice, data and video connections through a building to the desktop. Many experienced telecom installer/technicians are earning $50,000 a year, according to the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), whose NJATC training program is the nation's largest for electrical construction workers.

Apprenticeship programs

Although it takes three years to acquire the necessary training and skills to become NJATC-certified as a telecom installer/technician, the program offers beginners an attractive earn-as-you-learn curriculum that provides a competitive salary, health and pension benefits, college credits and on-the-job experience during training. For example, apprentices in the cabling installer/technician program earn an average of $50,000 to $75,000 over the three-year training period, while acquiring 480 hours of classroom instruction and 4,800 hours of on-the-job training.

Wanted: 50,000 installers

And the demand for these workers is skyrocketing. NECA-IBEW officials alone estimate they will need to recruit and train an additional 50,000 telecommunications installer/technicians over the next 10 years to meet the information cabling needs of the nation's commercial buildings.

"As the U.S. moves rapidly toward the information technology age, the need to recruit young people into technology services and the electrical field is growing exponentially," says NECA Chief Executive Officer John M. Grau. "The tech-service proficiency and skills of professional electrical craftsmen will be key to meeting job market demands."

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