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New Certificate Program Will Be Offered At CCAC This Fall

Jobs in the Marcellus Shale industry are not limited to drilling only. The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has developed a Land Administration certificate program for this fall in cooperation with EQT Corporation. It will be open to any student with an Associate degree and a specific interest in the region's growing natural gas and oil industry.

Gretchen Mullin-Sawicki, Dean of Academic Affairs at CCAC's North Campus, said the question of job security for graduates of the program should not be an issue. "When we develop [a] new curriculum at CCAC, we have to ensure that there's jobs out there. We don't want to just develop a program. People get their hopes up about finding employment and then they don't get jobs, so there's a demand," Mullin-Sawicki said.

Those who complete the program will be able to seek employment as land administrators within a company's land records, division orders or contracts area, which are all standard groups in the industry. The primary role of these employees is to protect an energy company's oil and gas assets. These include oil and gas leases, pipeline rights-of-way, and natural gas and/or oil wells.

Mullin-Sawicki said the program will cover a variety of topics that are necessary to be successful in the field. "They have to know about land ownership, different things like English Law, they have to understand about maps and property description, oil and gas leases, so they have to have the history and understanding of this and then the sort of, they deal with the visas and the estates and trusts after the wells have been given over to them," Mullin-Sawicki said.

Mullin-Sawicki added the program could take up to two years to complete if a student enrolls part-time. "If the student wanted to come full-time, they could potentially finish it; it would be a fall, spring, and a summer. I think a really important aspect of this program is that we have a co-op experience, so the student would actually go into industry for the final semester," Mullin Sawicki said.

Based on the current data for the oil and gas industry in the region, the average annual salary for these types of jobs is $60,000. Mullin-Sawicki said the first graduates of the program could be ready for employment as soon as this time next year.

"We've actually had some students enroll in classes this summer, but they can take classes this fall as well, and we imagine that the first certified person would be a the end of the next, this coming summer," Mullin-Sawicki said.