Column by Tony Cook
Have you ever driven down the highway and wondered about the guardrails on the shoulder of the road, concrete paved roads or the overhead sign structures you’re traveling below? Theseare critical pieces of highway infrastructure, but where are they manufactured?
Central Kentucky-based manufacturer Mid-Park, Inc., which is my place of employment, actually produces guardrails, load transfer assemblies and overhead sign structures that go on to be installed on highways and interstates throughout the country. Founded in 1971, Mid-Park, Inc. now has two manufacturing plants and a warehouse in Grayson County, including two plants in Leitchfield and a warehouse in Clarkson. They also have a manufacturing plant in Morgantown, Ky.
As a quality technician working at the Highway Division, I am responsible for ensuring that all materials and products meet a strict quality standard before leaving the facility. There are plenty of advantages to my job, including a competitive salary, great benefits and a good schedule. If this seems appealing to you, I’ve found that a career in quality tech is accessible for those willing to put in the work.
As a quality technician, a typical day for me involves performing dry film thickness (DFT) measurements, weld assessments, dimensional checks on structures and more. I perform quality checks on both the concrete and fabrication sides of our plant.
Some skills that lend themselves to a successful career as a quality technician include critical thinking skills, a keen attention to detail, interpersonal communication skills, experience using and applying mathematical concepts, and experience analyzing and drawing conclusions from data. The experience you can gain from the job can get you started not only in the field of manufacturing, but also into fields that require skills such as an attention to detail and data analysis.
Many employers provide on-site training for quality techs in manufacturing. Those who have experience in welding, in blueprint reading or in a fabrication facility are well-suited for these roles as well. On the job, an understanding of the manufacturer’s products is essential, including not just the products’ dimensions, but its applications once it is used in the field.
For me, one of the greatest rewards of working as a quality technician so far was the ability to earn my Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) certification for free while on the job. This certification diversified my skill set and it cost me absolutely nothing. In addition, I believe anyone who is technically-minded, analytical and enjoys learning something new every day would find rewards as a quality technician.
Quality technician jobs are currently in high-demand in the region, and there are many resources available to help you get started on this career path, including the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail. KCC-LT can help you determine if tuition assistance or other types of training assistance may be available to you. Tuition assistance is offered by the U.S. Department of Labor via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to individuals pursuing careers in in-demand fields like advanced manufacturing. Elizabethtown Community and Technical College offers training, and through the Work Ready Scholarship, you can earn a certificate, diploma or associate’s degree tuition-free.
Those interested in pursuing a career in advanced manufacturing, including a career as a quality tech, should contact the Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail.
Tony Cook serves as a quality technician for Mid-Park Inc. in Leitchfield.