N3B job boot camps thrive in Los Alamos to support environmental cleanup
Students at N3B boot camps receive on-the-job training in addition to classroom instruction. Courtesy picture
Mark Russell was one of three N3B employees honored with the Teamwork Award from the Energy Facility Contractors Group (EFCOG) – a consortium of companies that carry out work on behalf of the Department of Energy (DOE) – in June 2020.
A total of 22 students in the Radiation Monitoring Technician (RCT) Boot Camp doubles last year’s enrollment, marking the continued success of a partnership between N3B Los Alamos and the University of New Mexico – Los Alamos (UNM-LA). The Workforce Development Program supports N3B’s role in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Cleanup (DOE) mission at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
The boot camp programs were launched in early 2019 with a dual purpose of providing additional local employment opportunities and meeting the need for trained employees at N3B, which works on sanitation and disposal radioactive and hazardous waste inherited around LANL.
All 22 students are guaranteed full-time positions with N3B at the end of boot camp, unlike more traditional programs where students start looking for jobs after the programs end. Boot camp students enrolled in February and will complete the 16-17 week program in mid-May.
N3B Central Training Officer Mark Russell, who was hired to design and implement training programs in May 2018, said the Radiation Monitoring Technician (RCT) Boot Camp was offered this year to fill current vacancies. N3B also offers a Nuclear Processing Operator (NPO) boot camp when needed.
“Boot camps are the way to go because they target specific needs,” Russell said. “They are the most efficient way to deliver a compressed program to meet the needs of the workforce in the fastest and most consolidated way.”
Boot camp students receive 10 college credits, paid for by N3B, after completing approximately 12-16 weeks of classroom instruction at the UNM-LA campus, as well as field training at various N3B cleanup sites . They also receive remuneration during the program and agree to work for N3B for one year.
Additionally, they receive on-the-job training in Technical Area 54, where N3B manages and prepares for shipment LANL’s legacy radioactive and hazardous waste. A login bonus for staying with N3B for at least two years is a new option.
Russell said N3B’s competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits often provide upward mobility for anyone who completes training camps. He said some enrollees were college-aged, while others had experience in the job market but wanted to change fields or improve their skills.
He said boot camp certifications and N3B experience translate to jobs in other parts of the country, so the need for new recruits continues to fuel boot camps.
The current class serves local communities with four students from Los Alamos; three from Española, Santa Fe and White Rock; and one each from Anthony, Chimayo, Cordova, El Rito, Las Cruces, Ohkay Owingeh, Peñasco and Rio Rancho. An out-of-state student is from Longview, Washington.
The application window for the next round of training camp opportunities will open in the coming weeks. The posting will be on the N3B website under careers, followed by N3B jobs.
Radiation Control Technicians (RCTs) monitor work environments for radioactive materials, control radioactive materials appropriately, manage emergency response, and perform procedures as needed. Nuclear processing operators (NPOs) participate in critical environmental cleanup by handling, packaging, processing, and documenting radioactive waste.
N3B’s Workforce Development Program also offers applied science associates in nuclear operations technology and has attracted boot camp graduates seeking degrees. This program was launched in May 2021 in partnership with Northern New Mexico College.
N3B is a HII Nuclear led company with BWX Technologies, with critical contractors Longenecker & Associates and Tech2 Solutions. N3B is implementing the 10-year, $1.4 billion Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup contract for the local DOE Environmental Management Office in Los Alamos.