Starting Oct. 15, Weatherford College students will be able to learn a new trade at the college’s Wise County campus.
That’s when the new welding program kicks off.
Basic welding, metallic arc welding, welding layout, intermediate arc welding, introduction to welding multi processes, advanced arc welding and pipe welding are the seven classes offered through the program.
If a student completes all the classes (a total of 336 hours of coursework), they will receive a basic welding technology certificate.
“We needed another facility. That’s why we’re there,” welding instructor Jeff Langston said. “We also saw there was a need for us to come in and do exactly just that.”
Langston is a welder with Crisp Industries Inc. in Bridgeport.
The program, made possible through grants from the Texas Public Education Grant and the Workforce Investment Act, is being touted as a way to prepare workers for an expanding employment landscape. According to a statement released by WC in July, more than half a million welding-related jobs have opened up since 2008, and jobs will continue to become available over the next four years.
“The U.S. Department of Labor has projected openings for 617,900 workers across America in jobs that require welding between 2008 and 2018, and prospects are good for welders trained in the latest technologies like those now offered by WC,” the statement said.
“We’re working to acquire a way to certify these welders under the American Welding Society, so that will be a nationally recognized certification,” said Terry Pilgrim, a WC workforce and continuing education coordinator. He said another option students could pursue independently is a Canadian certificate.
“I understand there’s a lot of welders going up to Canada right now.”
As for the nuts and bolts of the class, Pilgrim said everyone will start with Intro to Welding, move on to basic shielded metallic arc welding, and then move from there. The further along the students get in the coursework, the more actual welding they will do.
Langston said the first thing every student will learn is safety.
“There’s really not a lot of actual welding in the intro class, but there is a lot of identification of weld quality,” Langston said. “We want to train our people what a good weld looks like.”
The welding layout class “should be 20 to 30 percent class work, just studying blueprints and symbols,” Langston said.
By the time students get to the pipe welding class, they will know how to safely identify welding tools, perform bead and fillet welds, create welding layouts, perform stringer bead and cap welds, art gouging, flux-cored arc welding and pipe fitting.
“It’s the hardest weld test out there,” Langston said of the 6G weld test used to identify pipe welds.
The class will be offered two nights a week, three hours a night, for eight weeks. Students are only allowed to miss three nights if they want to get certified. The $3,780 cost is approved for WIA/Workforce funding.
Pilgrim said he hopes there will be enough interest in the welding program to start a full-time welding school to make it faster to get certified.
“Maybe somewhere down the road we can have a welding academy or welding school, where they can come in and do this in three months instead of taking one class a week. It’s a long process,” Pilgrim said. “But if we can plug in something that they can benefit from – even if it may take a while – that’s alright.”
He added that the welding program is just one among many that the college is looking to implement in the future.
“If we’re not improving ourselves, then we’re getting stagnant, and I’m too old to get stagnant.”