Today, over 60 percent of manufacturing employees have at least some college education, according to a U.S Department of Commerce report. At the same time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the U.S. has 12.75 million manufacturing jobs which employs 8.5 percent of the workforce. These jobs pay 12 percent more than all others.

As a result, jobs such as skilled machinists, equipment operators, welders and technicians are vital, and
entry-level jobs in advanced manufacturing can often be difficult to fill.

With automation driving modern manufacturing, the need remains for workers who can program, manage and repair devices. Employers need trained workers to fill vacancies and COA works with companies in northeastern NC and southeastern VA to provide them with the high quality, skilled employees they need.  Businesses such as Hockmeyer Equipment Corporation, Telephonics, B&M Contractors and Sumitomo Drive Technologies frequently hire COA graduates.


In the Computer Integrated Machining program at COA, students learn the skills needed to prepare for a career as a machining technician. The program teaches students the theory and safe use of hand tools, power machinery, computerized equipment and sophisticated precision inspection instruments. The diploma program can be completed in one year and many students are offered employment from a regional manufacturer before graduation. In fact, all of the 2019 Machining graduates received job offers or were already employed prior to the program completion date.


Others jobs in demand, such as welders, require skilled workers who can perform intricate, custom work. Welders typically earn a certificate or diploma to acquire the skills they need. Welders must learn a range of techniques for welding a variety of metals.  Students in the Welding Technology program at COA learn how to research, interpret and apply codes and welding procedure specifications; generate sketches and interpret conventional and CAD-generated prints; gain the knowledge of welding inspection methods; and testing of weldments with non-destructive and destructive methods and understand how to set up, program, operate and troubleshoot automated equipment related to the welding industry.  The basic certificate and advanced certificate options can be completed in one semester, while the diploma program can be completed in one year.

Another career opportunity gaining traction in our service area is Marine Diesel Engine Repair.  The one semester course, offered in Dare County through Workforce Development and Career Readiness, provides students the training needed for repair, reconstruction and maintenance of marine engines, marine machinery and related equipment.  Students learn all aspects of diagnosing problems, inspections, rebuilding and repairing diesel engines according to factory specifications.  Potential careers in this field include boat manufacturing, marine service, fisheries and the North Carolina Ferry Division.  With a 9% growth in jobs by 2026, the average salary of a Marine Diesel Engine Mechanic is $42,630.

Work-Based Learning

COA offers a Work-Based Learning program that gives students the opportunity to apply class instruction in an actual workplace setting by working for an employer in a position directly related to their program of study.  The program helps develop the employment skills needed to succeed in the workplace, such as interpersonal skills and teamwork, problem solving through identifying problems and implementing practical solutions, and effective communication to exchange ideas and information with others.  With 20 Work-Based Learning approved programs at COA, opportunities abound for students to receive on the job experience prior to entering their career.

Career Outlook

Welder $19.04 hourly, $41,470 annually
Projected growth (2018-2028) 4.5%
Projected new job openings (2018-2028) 48,800*

Machinist $21.60 hourly, $46,325 annually
Projected growth (2018-2028) 6.5%
Projected new job openings (2018-2028) 41,600*

HVAC Technician $20.11 hourly, $43,190 annuall
Projected growth (2018-2028) 5%
Projected new job openings (2018-2028) 42,800*

Computer Aided Drafting Technology $23.50 hourly, $54,830 annually
Projected growth (2018-2028) 12%
Projected new job openings (2018-2028) 5,400*

All wages are the median for 2018. All data from Bureau of Labor Statistics and
* National data

HVAC Program

COA’s Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (HVAC) Technology program, offered at the Edenton-Chowan and Dare County Campuses, will give students the skills needed to work with residential and light commercial systems, as well as assist in the start up, preventive maintenance, service, repair and installation of residential and light commercial systems.

The diploma program is offered at the Edenton-Chowan Campus and can be completed in two semesters.  Coursework towards the level I certificate is available at the Edenton-Chowan Campus and the Dare County Campus.  The HVAC Technology program continually produces individuals who are job ready upon completion.  Many HVAC students are offered technician jobs prior to completing the program so that once they graduate, they immediately begin working in their field of study.

Important information about educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended these programs:

Computer Aided Drafting

Do you have a creative spirit and passion for technology? These are perfect elements for a bright future with COA’s Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) Technology program. Students who enjoy problem solving and design will learn to master the latest CAD software with help from industry experts in just two years.  Using 2-D and 3-D modeling, students take conceptual architecture, engineering and mechanics, and make them reality. The CAD program is offered at the Regional Aviation and Technical Training Center in Currituck and can be completed as an associate degree, diploma or certificate.  The program also has a transfer partnership with East Carolina University (ECU) so that students who receive the associates degree can transfer to ECU’s Industrial Technology bachelor’s degree program.