There are very few public secondary schools locally, other than Galt High School, where one can go to acquire the technical skills to become successful as a certified welder This means that aspiring welders probably acquire training “on-the job” and through apprenticeship training with the Plumbing and Pipe-fitters unions. American River College also has a program.
What sets CRC apart is probably the fact that Professor Jason Roberts was recently hired to redirect the focus of the program away from low-tech and “hobby” welding (although if hobby welding is what the student wants, they can obtain plenty of skills in the program) to a focus on preparing students for professional certification so that they can obtain the very high paying jobs that this field has to offer. To do this will require time, energy and money, but he has already made great strides in terms of upgrading shop equipment and curriculum. The college has committed to building a new program facility in the future as part of the construction trade building project for which fund raising and planning are underway currently.
This is a profession that thrives upon certifications so the curriculum is being realigned to prepare students to pass current industry standards.
If students are certified or demonstrate sufficient skills, they may be able to challenge, substitute or waive certain CRC welding course work. They should work with the Program staff to do so. They may be required to perform a welding test in this process.
Currently there are material fees of $5 per class except for certification classes which run $20. Students are strongly encouraged to purchase their own leather aprons, gloves, hoods and shields but we do not let costs discourage someone from the WELD 100 class. Professor Roberts has some loaner protective equipment available.
Recently, many upgrades have been made to improve the instructional environment. Wires and hoses have been rerouted overhead, safety improvements made and many new pieces of equipment such as metal cutters, grinders and band saws and a computer operated plasma cutter have been upgraded. These changes are necessary to teach to certification levels. Future plans include many new welders and even an entirely new structure to house the program.
The primary skills needed are high-end spatial skills. Fabrication requires a “good eye” to spot a square joint, etc. Welding students must be able to learn to read from plans and construct from them. The welding student must be fit and flexible enough to move around and weld in uncomfortable positions as well as move heavy materials (this is metal after all).Welding can be hot with sparks flying and hot metal slag falling around and on ones’ body so protective gear will always be worn while welding, grinding and cutting.
Counselors should encourage certification training and learn as much as they can about the career potential for skilled welders! Suggest other course-work (design, CAD, Construction Management, math, English, etc.) to increase employability and advancement.
Currently they range in age and interests especially in the Weld 100 Introduction class. We anticipate a change in student characteristics to coincide with the shift in program emphasis to “fast-track” those with serious career interests. We will probably see a younger group coming from Galt High School and other programs.
At least sixty percent of the program is “hands-on”. While welding students always want to be in the shop “burning rod”, the lecture components are critical. Students need to be able to understand theoretical topics like metallurgy, and practical skills like welding machine set-up, reading and understanding applicable codes governing different types of welding, learning to read welding symbols and plans and of course, safety in order to hold down work in this field.
It is this dual emphasis on theory and application that separates our “education” in welding from “training” in welding. It provides much more than “how to weld”.
Remember, the goal of this program is to get the students good enough to be employable in a relatively short time. Therefore, the environment is very “work- like” with the professor setting out the tasks to be accomplished and the students working together to accomplish them.
Professor Robert’s welding students attended the 2007 Skills Competition in Riverside in Spring of 2007 and brought home three medals; Gold (first in State) in GMAW, Silver (second in State) in SMAW, and Bronze in OAW. These results were achieved in tough competition with larger more established programs around the State. They speak to the skills and drive of both Professor Roberts and his students.
Being a welder is all about being certified in different welding processes. Most employers can only employ welders certified for the specific type of welding that they require on a specific job so the more certifications the welder has, the more valuable they become. Think about welding on a medical facility surgical gas system, a nuclear power plant, a chilled water system or underwater and you can begin to see how specialized this field can be. Professor Roberts can do welding testing “in house” within our certification classes. The cost is $20 versus $150 per test if done outside of the class.
Yes. The American Welding Society, the AWS, has scholarships that range from $1500 to $2000. Check their site http://www.aws.org/education/