Vocational training starts anew at ISA!

  Trainee in the lab Copyright: © ISA

Again, a new school year and with it, a new generation of chemical laboratory assistants in training started at the Institute of Engineering (ISA) at RWTH Aachen University. But how exactly does such a training actually look like?

The dual vocational training as a chemical laboratory assistant at the ISA includes theoretical learning at the vocational school in Stolberg as well as practical work in the environmental analysis laboratory of the µ3 Research Centre Soers on the grounds of the Soers sewage treatment plant. The latter includes guidance and supervision by experienced specialists, but later on independent and autonomous work too. Our work tasks mainly involve sample preparation, the chemical analyses, instrument operation and maintenance as well as documenting the results. Furthermore, we take part in weekly team meetings, sometimes work on small "own" projects and also delve into certain areas individually, such as elemental analysis (metals) or wet chemistry (nutrients).

  Trainees in the lab Copyright: © ISA

In vocational college we learn about the theoreticals essential for a broad understanding of chemical processes and analysis techniques – for example in disciplines like chemistry, physics and mathematics- but also economy. In the first year of our vocational training, we also take general education courses like German, English and Sports. We continuously inform our trainers at ISA about our grades – school prepares us for our final exam after all.

The combination of practical training in the institute and theoretical courses in the vocational college provides us with a comprehensive, broad work training as well as first experiences in everyday work.

Additionally, at RWTH we also get the opportunity to partake in practical courses by the BAZ chemistry (BAZ stands for Berufsausbildungszentrum, meaning centre for occupation training). This allows us to obtain practical experience in disciplines our institute does not specialise in, for example manual titration or synthesizing compounds.

After two years and at the end of the the three year vocational training, we have both theoretical and practical exams.

If we pass, we then receive the qualification as a chemical laboratory assistant and are well prepared for our career in research or industry – and part of the success story of education at the ISA.


The ISA also offers vocational training in two other, non-chemical occupations:

Management assistants for office management

The dual training programme for office management clerks consists of a school-based part taught at the vocational school and a practical part in the secretariat of the Institute of Sanitary Engineering. There we carry out organisational and commercial-administrative activities. For example, we take care of correspondence, procure office materials, plan and monitor appointments, prepare meetings and organise business trips. At the vocational school, we learn the commercial processes, including bookkeeping.

After 1.5 years, the first part of the final examination takes place. This is a written exam on the subject of information technology office management - it includes tasks on the programmes Excel and Word. At the end of the training, the second part of the final examination takes place, which consists of a written examination on the subjects of business and social studies and customer relations processes, as well as a practical examination.

  Trainee at work Copyright: © ISA

IT specialist for system integration

During your training as an office management assistant at the ISA, you can expect different tasks and work with nice colleagues every day.

In this diverse and demanding IT apprenticeship, we learn to plan, implement, and manage IT systems. This includes networking computers, installing and configuring operating systems, setting up servers, and ensuring IT security.

In vocational school, we expand our knowledge in subjects such as German, economics, and the fundamentals of programming. These basics are crucial for establishing a successful presence in the IT world.

  Trainee at work Copyright: © ISA

Additionally, we attend seminars and courses at the BAZ of RWTH, covering various IT areas, including network technology, hardware, and databases. Here, we learn how to identify issues in IT systems and develop efficient solutions. Teamwork and communication are also vital skills as we frequently collaborate with colleagues to tackle IT challenges.

The apprenticeship lasts for three years. Upon successful completion, a wide range of career prospects in the IT industry awaits us, whether as a system administrator, network administrator, or IT support specialist.