Trinidad State Junior
College students in the
operations, gun repair,
stockmaking and more.
At the time, casino facilities in the area were all
Native American run and all Class 2 facilities, which
can have high-stakes bingo, video slot machines and
the like but no table games. Now, full Class 3 casinos have come to the area, also run by the Seneca
Nation, which has increased the demand for people
with Rivera’s skills.
SUN Y Erie offers both a computer repair technology degree program and a casino gaming certificate.
Students, who include both those new to the industry
as well as veterans, learn components, circuit testing
and safety issues, as well as advanced electronic
skills, computer logic and microprocessors.
“A lot of students cross over [from computer
repair to casino gaming], so they can get a job in the
industry,” Rivera says. “Everything is plug-and-play
in the industry, all basically run by a computer,
server-based. They’ve got the basic knowledge about
how machines are run.” Some graduates work
directly for a casino, in-house, while others work for
a machine manufacturer like Bally’s and are on-call
as field service technicians, he says.
While opportunities have definitely increased
in the Buffalo area, SUNY Erie instills in students
the possibilities outside of western New York,
Rivera says. “The industry has expanded so much
in the last 15 years, it’s crazy,” he says. “We’re trying
to get people to realize, you don’t have to live in
Buffalo.” To recruit, “We go out to the high schools,
we put on job fairs and we present the program.
Just the regular circuit.”
While marijuana cultivation is mostly a new
industry in the past decade, and gaming has
expanded considerably, other niche programs
like gunsmithing have been in place on campuses
where they’re offered considerably longer, reflect-
ing the stability of the industry and timelessness
of many of the skills required.
Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colorado,
has offered gunsmithing courses for more than
70 years, which within a few years coalesced into a
two-year degree program. The program teaches topics
like bench metal, machining operations, gun repair
and stockmaking, as well as specialized courses in
checkering, competitive rifles and more specialized
smithing of revolvers, shotguns and pistols.
The program’s core has remained the same over
time, although courses have been “reshuffled” and
updated from time to time, says Keith Gipson, dean
of instruction at Trinidad State. “The core skills I m