CARBONDALE — Video gaming in Illinois has become a nearly half-billion-dollar industry, according to the latest reports from the Illinois Gaming Board.
INA, Ill. – With new and improving technologies, the Rend Lake College Office Systems program is updating some core curriculum to remain competitive and reliable for today’s graduates. Two Office Systems Technology (OFTC) programs are creating two new associate degrees and three new occupational certificates to give students the skills necessary to work in the industry.
Classes are enrolling now for the five credentials. Though they are pending Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) approval, Sarah Bilderbeck, Office Systems Technology Associate Professor, said she’s confident the programs will be accepted to help local students improve their skills.
“These programs are similar to what was offered before, but due to evolving technology and the changing role of an administrative assistant, the curriculum needed some adjusting,” said Bilderbeck. “Technology in the workplace is woven throughout every semester of the curriculum.”
Bilderbeck added students will complete work on Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint, as well as on QuickBooks, to be prepared for any office setting. Classes will also spend time on social media and basic web page design.
“A student pursuing an OFTC degree can also dual major, which means when they graduate, they can receive both OFTC degrees and all of the accompanying certificates,” said Bilderbeck. “Only four or five classes is the difference between the two degrees, and many students opt to spend an extra semester finishing up both credentials.”
Office Systems Technology Specialist & Office Technologies Assistant
The new Office Systems Technology Specialist (OSTS) degree and Office Technologies Assistant (OTA) certificate will replace RLC’s Administrative Assistant program. Bilderbeck said part of the transition is to include more job responsibilities assistants see in their workplace.
“In the past, an assistant was someone who greeted customers, answered the phone, and directed traffic, but times have changed, the role has evolved, and that version of an assistant no longer exists,” said Bilderbeck. “The list of tasks for a new age assistant is endless.”
Some of these new responsibilities include creating and formatting business reports in Word, performing complex functions in Excel, setting up databases in Access, putting together presentations in PowerPoint, and much more. Bilderbeck said these assistants are sometimes considered the experts when it comes to new software or updates.
“Assistants are likely to be training staff on the latest and greatest when it comes to software or various types of office technology,” she said. “They’re no longer simply communicating on the telephone or behind the desk. An assistant’s role reaches out to the entire department or even company.”
The OSTS Associate in Applied Science degree is a two-year program requiring 64 credit hours of work to prepare students with the technical skills and general studies required of clerical staff. Students will focus on the concepts and methods used to organize and manage information, as well as the development or enhancement of skills necessary to work in an office or business setting.
Specifically, Bilderbeck said she’s excited to include Integrating Microsoft Applications, Office Procedures and Technology, and Integrating Technologies courses into the new curriculum.
The OTA Occupational Certificate requires two semesters, or 30 credit hours, of work, and is geared toward those looking for an entry-level position in an office or building setting. This program is best suited toward those not looking for a degree at this time, but are interested in a new career path or improving skills.
At the end of these programs, graduates can sit for Microsoft User Certification in the RLC Academic Advisement Testing Center. RLC is now a Certiport testing center. Academic awards are available for students interested in pursuing this added certification.
According to the U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 3.98 million jobs for administrative assistants across the country, a number that is continuously growing. Median pay for an office specialist falls around $35,970. The BLS also states, with increasing use of complex software, job prospects will be available for those will a higher skill set.
Medical Office Specialist, Assistant & Associate
Because many office specialists are employed in the medical industry, the new Medical Office Specialist (MOS), Medical Office Assistant (MO Assistant) and Medical Office Associate (MO Associate) programs are geared toward providing students with administrative skills, but also with several factors in the medical environment.
The MOS Associate in Applied Science degree will replace the Health Information Assistant degree to offer students experience with office technologies, but also a special focus on medical policies and procedures. The degree requires four semesters and 64 credit hours of work.
New courses to this degree program are Anatomy & Physiology Fundamentals, Communication in Technical Services, Integrating Technologies, and Billing and Coding to get students prepared to work as an office manager, medical assistant, medical transcriptionist, or receptionist.
“Many students love the idea of working in a medical-related field, but they don’t want anything to do with actual patient care,” explained Bilderbeck. “The Medical Office Specialist degree offers this specific niche of students a career option that can be found in any medical facility. They’re taught medical terminology, medical transcription, and the basics of medical coding and billing. All of these core areas will be found within a medical office specialist’s daily tasks.”
For those students looking to improve on skills or immediately get into the workforce, the MO Assistant and Associate occupational certificates are the right path.
The daytime MO Assistant certificate requires two semesters and 30 credit hours of work and graduates will have the knowledge to receive an entry-level position in any medical office setting.
For those working full-time, the MO Associate certificate offers evening, online, and hybrid courses to work around a busy schedule. The 10-credit hour program offers eight-week classes that can be completed in as little as one semester.
The BLS states, for medical specialists particularly, there are approximately 516,000 jobs available – most commonly found in physicians’ offices, hospitals, dentists’ offices, and outpatient care centers. Median pay for these individuals is approximately $32,240 or $15.50 per hour.