Friday Focus: 3 Types of Welding Programs on the Rise

August 23, 2013

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Job prospects for welders trained in the latest technologies are bright, as businesses continue to report a shortage of these skilled workers across the country. A new crop of welding technical programs can arm prospects with the skills needed to be competitive for open positions and in tune with market demands.

Employment for welders, cutters, and brazers is expected to grow 15 percent between 2010 and 2020 -- slightly exceeding the national employment rate of 14 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Welding workers earn an average $35,450 a year, almost 5 percent more than the national annual salary average of $33,840.

And roles for welders are expanding in a number of fields, including engineering and robotics, two fast growing industries. The challenge for welding workers, however, is having the most up-to-date training in order to stand out from the competition. Here are a few of the latest types of welding programs:

Welding Diploma Accelerates Specialized Training

Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), in Sanford, N.C., this month announced the launch of a four-semester diploma program in welding technology, which expands on its current two-semester certificate option. The diploma program includes 128 hours of flux core arc welding and instructional time in metal inert gas (MIG) arc welding, in addition to 128 hours in tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding.

The program trains students to state-of-the-art industry standards.

“Employers are looking for workers who can weld using multiple welding processes and who can multitask a project from interpreting the blueprints to fitting and welding the materials together,” said Charles Bell, a CCCC instructor and an American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welding Inspector. He also said that the program prepares students for welding certification tests.

College Co-op Connects Welding Students with Manufacturers

Students enrolled in the welding program at Central Arizona College (CAC) in Coolidge, Ariz., will get on-the-job experience in addition to classroom study, as part of a developing co-op program that involves partnering with local manufacturers.

Brent Couch, who directs the program, told local news media that he is expanding the current one-year certificate program into a two-year-associate degree program that includes a welding internship. The co-op program also gives students the incentive to strive for better academic performance, as the top students will be offered internship hours during their final year. The manufacturing plant of Elrus Aggregate, which makes conveying, screening, and crushing equipment, located near Coolidge, will compensate students and may even offer jobs to top performers.

Tech Program Combines Classroom Theory with Practical Experience

Laurus Technical Institute in Atlanta offers students a chance to hone their welding skills with a new six-month program that combines 25 percent classroom study with 75 percent lab training, giving students a deeper focus on welding fundamentals. Students will learn the four core welding processes, including MIG, TIG, stick, and flux-core, and will be trained in more than 80 welding exercises, the school announced recently.

Developed by long-time industry welders and instructors Wayne Blamire and Matthew Rogers, the program focuses on meeting manufacturing employers' needs. Graduates will be prepared for weld testing and certifications. Furthermore, students will be equipped with specific skill sets faster than students attending two-year colleges, administrators say.

“This program is focused on training premier welding students and positioning graduates to know much more about the craft than burning rods,” said Rogers. “Being able to weld is important, but understanding the factors that make a good welder enables our students to navigate among processes, filler metals, base materials, and numerous other variables that come into play.”

Are you involved with any skilled training programs? Share your story and let us know in the comment section below.

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