Programs prepare students for medical, IT and digital media jobs

Not everyone can rap like Ludacris or croon like Usher, but even the stars of Atlanta’s growing music scene need someone at the sound board to make them sound terrific. At Omnitech Institute in Tucker, becoming a technician who works behind the scenes to produce the city’s signature sound is just one option open to technology students.

Since 1998, Omnitech has focused its instruction on preparing students to move into jobs in the rapidly expanding world of information technology. Founder and president Carlos Lester saw a need that has only gotten bigger.

“I had been in many schools and courses myself and had found that learning technology skills can be easy and fun,” he said. “I also saw a big need for down-to-earth training that would take people and prepare them for the profitable world of IT (information technology).”

The institute offers three main courses of study: medical assistance, IT networking and digital media, which has the highest enrollment. Courses toward certification in each area can be completed in about 36 weeks or longer, if students opt for part-time night classes.

“All our courses begin with IT as a base, so students work through an introduction to computers, a professional development course, Windows and hardware systems first,” Lester said. “Digital media is a particularly exciting area where they concentrate on how to create sound recordings, to run digital and audio work stations, to create videography and photography for the Web, and to create mobile apps for smartphones.

“We also offer courses on the entertainment business and social media. So once they are finished, they can go to a company and do multiple things, from creating content and managing websites to producing videos and setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts.”

'Wide-open field’

Omnitech has also established strong relationships with many local entertainment companies such as Tyler Perry Studios, where interns are always in demand.

“An internship gives them the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes, setting up sound systems, lighting and videos,” Lester said. “And a lot of our students get jobs in churches that are on the radio and television and need sound engineers. It’s a wide-open field with a lot of options and jobs out there.”

Marcell Minor moved from Chicago to Atlanta to work in the city’s music industry when he discovered Omnitech a few years ago.

“What I found was I didn’t have the IT background I needed,” said Minor, 28. “So I got my certifications. I also learned how the hip-hop music industry worked, and how much hustle and struggle it involves. So I went back to Chicago and got a job in IT, finished my bachelor’s in information technology and now work for Barclays Capital Management while I’m working on a master’s.

“There’s no doubt that Omnitech was the starting point that contributed to my success. The people there showed me how you can live a comfortable life by working in IT. And it’s fun and exciting.”

Domenic Wakely was an Omnitech student five years ago, studying in the audio engineering and digital media programs. The 38-year-old Stone Mountain resident finished his course work, started his own recording studio in Decatur and became an Omnitech instructor.

“I had been a disc jockey by profession but had only dabbled in the audio engineering field,” Wakely said. “When I came here, I got my IT certifications under my belt and learned a lot I didn’t know about audio engineering. Now, my students are a mix of ages — many are veterans — and some of them have never touched a computer or sent an email before. I start them with the basics and we go from there.”

One place Omnitech graduates are apt to go is into a job, Lester said.

“We have a  high job placement rate because our students are certified,” Lester said. “We do job placement assistance and  have work-study programs through relationships we’ve built with several local companies such as UPS. IT is a great field for people who don’t want to go to college but need a skills set so they don’t have to work in a minimum wage job.”