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NACTEL Expands To Meet Changing Needs

January/February 2005 IBEW Journal

The online telecommunications education program that has helped advance the careers of thousands of IBEW members has now expanded to address new needs in the industry.

The NACTEL program at Pace University, launched in fall 1999, offered
the first online associates degree and certificates in telecommunications technologies built by and for the telecommunications industry. The program enabled workingmen and -women to earn an A.S. degree in their field of employment while balancing a full-time job and family life. Since then, over 1,063 IBEW members have participated in the program, and to date, over 26 have graduated with their associates degree.

The main reasons for the programs success has been its online format (students can study anytime from anywhere with a computer and Internet access) and the fact that the IBEW and the other partners have co-authored the technology courses, ensuring that they prepare students for the real world of the telecommunications industry.

Now in its seventh year, NACTEL has expanded its online education opportunities further to better suit the changing needs of the students and the industry.

In recent years, the program expanded beyond offering only associates degrees by preparing students who had completed that course of study to earn a Bachelor of Science degree online from Pace, within about two years. The accelerated B.S. degree is designed for those already working in the industry or who have the equivalent experience and are ready to complete their degree. Pace also now offers an advanced certificate in emerging telecommunications technologies for those who already hold a degree and want to focus on the latest telecom skills (VoIP, broadband, fiber optics and wireless). The certificate courses form part of the B.S. program and build on what students covered in the associates degree.

NACTEL has further broadened its scope to help those who wish to enter into sales and marketing, or who are new to these fields, with an online certificate program in sales and customer service offered by Aims Community College. Also completely online, the Aims NACTEL program covers the basics of business, sales and marketing from a telecommunications perspective and gives students the technical aspects of the industry so they can communicate more effectively with customers. NACTEL also provides a way for members to move into other areas of the industry, including financial services, with a new online program offered by the New England College of Finance (NECF). The NECF program for NACTEL includes three certificates: accounting services, financial management and financial services studies.

All NACTEL programs are online, offered by accredited institutions of higher learning, and available for college credit. Some IBEW members in telecommunications may be eligible for tuition assistance through their employers; check with your local union for more information. The NACTEL partners (the IBEW, the CWA and the telecommunications employers) review and monitor the programs to ensure they are of a high quality, standardized for the industry and meet todays job needs. To learn more about NACTEL and its online learning, visit: www.nactel.org/ibew.