To the uninitiated, if you tell someone you’re working in asphalt, their mind’s eye may immediately go to hot, steamy, black tar and road rollers. While they’re not wrong, they’re also thinking about one part of the field, when really, many asphalt and road construction roles can look more like culinary arts than skilled trades.
Asphalt and Road Construction in Virginia
According to the Virginia Asphalt Association, 96% of the interstate and primary roads in Virginia are paved with asphalt. And being that Virginia is home to the third-largest roadway system in the country, behind North Carolina and Texas, that’s a lot of road to cover.
One of the reasons why the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), one of the subject matter experts on all things asphalt in Virginia, has moved to primarily using asphalt on its state-maintained roads is because the materials are cost-effective, long-lasting, versatile and have construction advantages, like the speed of installation.
Cooking with Asphalt
Well, not exactly “cooking,” but when you go behind the scenes on how asphalt is mixed, you’ll start to see some comparisons to an industrial kitchen. When you see a paving project, that black mix that gets poured on the road isn’t ready-made. There are several VDOT industry standards for preparing the asphalt mixes, and the standards are just some of the skills you’ll learn at a Virginia community college to prepare you for a career in asphalt.
Right now, asphalt training is offered directly through Germanna and CCWA, but some courses are available online outside of those communities.
In the trainings, instructors lead students through the curriculum and help prepare them for the final examination that will earn them a VDOT-issued certification in an asphalt-related role.
The Asphalt Career Ladder
There isn’t just one job in asphalt. As you can imagine, if you’re mixing, laying and sustaining an asphalt project, there are a lot of roles along the way. The National Asphalt Pavement Association has great information on several careers, how much you need to know to fill the role and how to advance in the industry.
Still not convinced? Don’t take our word for it. Listen to some of our students in action.
Thinking about starting a career in asphalt or other skilled trades program? Contact your local community college to get started.