SAN ANTONIO -

Palo Alto College is helping  fill jobs in the growing Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas industry.

The college is now offering an associate degree program in Oil and Gas Technology.     

"As a major city like San Antonio, we're becoming, hopefully, an industrial powerhouse and we need to train our people," said Leo Diaz, program coordinator. 

The Eagle Ford Shale region is the most active shale play in the world and is expected to provide more than 129,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

The training prepares students for high-paying jobs in a short amount of time.

"We worked with industry partners to develop the curriculum so it meets their needs and there is a need of several hundred individuals to go into this annually," said  Mike Flores, Palo Alto College President. 

The program was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in June 2013.

The equipment for the program was purchased with a $300,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development Fund.

The equipment gives students a chance to get hands-on experience with the technology. 

The two-year program is based on a stacked model program, which allows students to earn certifications along the way, which go towards their associates degree.

It only takes 16 weeks for students to receive their first certification. 

"Within four months, they can get their first credentials for a certificate and they can go out into the field and work," Flores said.

Certified employees can earn $21.36 to $23.76 per hour, on average.

Online classes with hands on open labs are offered, so students can continue their education while they work.

To learn more oil and gas technology training or other programs at Alamo Community Colleges, call 210-486-3000 

The fall semester is already underway but a new 8-week term starts mid Oct.

For a list of recent stories Eileen Gonzales has done, click here.