College brews work-ready students


Brandon Donner

Dallas College is reintroducing the Journeyman and Technical Brewer program in response to growing demand for skilled staff. Over 20 local breweries partnered with Dallas College to provide hands-on training opportunites for students in the program.

Brandon Donner, Managing Editor

Dallas College has restarted its Journeyman and Technical Brewer program, the first of its kind in Texas. The program was started in response to workforce demand. 

Employees who are looking for a job with a creative outlet can get that with the brewing program. According to a Feb. 17 Dallas College press release, the first cohort of the six-week program started its online course March 21 and ran through April 29.

The brewery program was started in 2015 by Peter Boettcher, a master brewer with 36 years of knowledge and experience in the industry. “You had a booming industry, but the education was completely lagging behind,” Boettcher said, according to the press release. Since it began, the program has reached a 98% job placement rate after completion.

Texas is in the top 10 in number of craft breweries with over 300 breweries statewide and employs 4,000 Texans with an average wage of $58,730, according to the Texas Comptroller website.

The program offers two certificates: Journeyman Brewer and Technical Brewer. Boettcher said, “Journeyman Brewer is for dedicated frontline workers, the backbone of the industry.” This certification will cost students $3,600 to become highly qualified applicants in the brewing industry.

The Technical Brewer certificate is eight weeks long and broken into two parts – applied brewing science and advanced brewing practices. Students in this advanced program must first complete the Journeyman Brewer certificate or pass an assessment test, and have worked in the industry for one year. Certification will cost students $5,000 and will tailor students to be in leadership roles within the brewing operations.

In an email to The Courier, Steve DeShazo, senior director of Workforce and Career Connected Learning, said all brewing is done in hands-on learning environments  where students are working in their internships with the program’s brewing partners.

Over 20 local breweries have partnered with Dallas College as part of the program. Partner breweries include Texas Ale Project in Dallas, Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland and Spoetzl Brewing Company in Shiner, Texas.

Nick Sorenson, co-owner of Equal Parts Brewing in Houston, was one of the first students in the program. Sorenson said the program was “a fun cross section of technical ability and creativity.” Sorenson said he and his business partner, Matt Peterson, did not have any experience in brewing industry when they enrolled in the program. “When the first journeyman course opened up, we jumped on it,” Sorenson said. “I am happy we did. I don’t think things would have gone the way they did otherwise.”

Many students get hired before finishing the program. Curtis Caldwell went to work for Deep Ellum Brewing Company immediately after graduating in 2017 and is now the head brewer at Legal Draft Beer Co. “Going through the internship gives you that ‘I’ve done this before’ attitude,” Caldwell said in the press release. 

The demand for trained professionals is on the rise as many breweries are short staffed and scrambling to find well trained employees who are work ready. “On-the-job training is time consuming for a brewery, as it is a technical job,” John Royer, managing partner of 3 Nations Brewing, said. “Colleges that offer programs like brewing schools do a lot of the training and work for breweries and allow for the labor force to be trained when they are hired.”

While other breweries are going out of business, leaving many talented brewers out of work, Royer said he feels lucky to have enough brewers at 3 Nations Brewing.

Royer said 3 Nations Brewing is always on the lookout for skilled  workers. “Last fall it was harder, but I think that talent is finding a home quickly,” Royer said. He is also looking for personnel to help in packaging, which is canning and kegging.

The next six-week session will begin May 16. It is currently open for enrollment until May 15.