Getting Wired Into a Great Paying Career Student Spotlight

May 04, 2021

A 26-year-old father living in Orange with his son, wife and his in-laws, Matthew Marvick had grown tired of working low-wage jobs stocking groceries, serving meals at restaurants, and delivering supplies to local pet stores. 

He’s finding his future at Irvine Valley College in its Electronic and Electrical Technology programs, where he is on a path to earning his associate degree in electronic technology, and to completing IVC’s Electrician Trainee and Energy Solar Photovoltaic Systems Technician certificates.

Good choice, too. Electricians, for example, are earning an average wage of nearly $77,000 in the region annually and solar installers are earning an average wage of more than $47,000 each year.

“It’s awesome being in a program like this that I can attend at night and learn the skills to find a good, middle class job,” Marvick said.

Marvick’s path to IVC was a meandering one. The Santa Ana native and Foothill High School graduate played football and lacrosse at Rhodes College, a liberal arts school in Memphis. But without a clear idea of what he wanted to focus on with his studies or do for a career, Marvick returned to Orange County and enrolled at IVC, where, after first contemplating a future in chemistry, he began looking more deeply into the college’s career education programs.

And why not? 

Classes are offered in the late afternoons and evenings, which allows Marvick to focus on school while holding a full-time job in the day as a delivery driver and shop worker for a company that services and sharpens equipment for dog groomers across Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties. He also appreciates the style of learning in the career education programs, which he describes as being more practical and process-oriented, learning things one step at a time with hands-on simulations and training. 

In addition, by applying for need-based financial aid through FAFSA, the tuition cost is covered by the California College Promise Grant, which means he is going to finish his education within a year with no money out of pocket.

His instructors are just as impressed.

“Matthew is a brilliant student, currently working two jobs, who discovered a passion for understanding electrical systems and electrical safety,” said one of his professors, Dr. Massimo Mitolo. “I am confident that his dedication will allow him to pursue a fulfilling career as an electrical technician and as an electrical engineer.”

Irvine Valley College offers certificates of proficiency for future electrician trainees and in Energy Solar Photovoltaic Systems Technician through its new School of Integrated Design, Engineering and Automation. The electrician trainee certificate equips students with the skills needed for entry level positions in areas such as residential and commercial wiring, facility maintenance, and troubleshooting electrical circuits and equipment. The solar photovoltaic systems technician program is designed to provide the training necessary to find work for a photovoltaic distributor, installer, or contractor. Graduates go on to serve as an electrician apprentice, solar installers or contractors, residential electricians, and more. In fact, California’s community colleges are the largest provider of workforce training in the nation, and students earning a degree or a certificate nearly double their earnings within three years.

“This is the kind of learning I’ve always wanted,” Marvick said. “Not only can you see the applications of what you’re learning immediately, but you’re training to learn a skill set that is practical and that employers in my area are looking for.”


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