The college is now offering Machine Tool Operator, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Operator, and Welding Certificates of Achievement that may help boost students’ employability.
“As an institution, we’re saying this person is now qualified as an entry level CNC operator or an entry level machine tool operator,” said Howard Carpenter, Machine Tool instructor. Carpenter said there are currently about 50 students in his classes who should qualify for the new credentials. The new Certificates of Achievement will better define a job applicant’s qualifications to a perspective employer, Carpenter explained.
The Machine Tool Certificate of Achievement is available to students who complete Machine Tool 101 and Machine Tool 103. The CNC Certificate of Achievement is awarded to students who complete Machine Tool 101 and 103, plus CNC Programming.
“A lot of our students are looking for jobs after taking two or three classes,” Carpenter said. “It can be hard to define their skills so this should help them with that process.” Carpenter said he thinks the new certificates will be in great demand.
Erick Martin, Welding program coordinator, said a Welding Certificate of Achievement is now being awarded to students who complete the 10-credit hour Welding 190 – “Rapid Welding Skills” course. Martin said the class meets five days a week for a total of 37.5 hours each week for 15 weeks.
Martin said the certificate was developed before the recession hit and was meant to quickly train welders with entry level skills. The idea, he said, was for a student to complete Welding 190, “go out and find employment and then come back and finish an advanced degree.” Martin is confident that his student welders are “job-ready” when they complete Welding 190. “The thing about the welding industry is that there are certain processes that give you a higher likelihood of getting a job,” Martin said. “We give them as many skills as we can in the different processes so that they’re saleable to the welding employer.”
The course covers four major welding processes: MIG, TIG, STICK, and Flux Core Arc Welding , plus the related skills of welding symbols and blueprint reading. The processes are taught at the professional, industrial level using the American Welding Societies guidelines for entry level welders.
“It’s an intensive study course,” Martin said. “It’s a course for people who want to have a career in welding – anybody who wants to be a welder at the professional level.”
As part of the class experience, students are given an American Welding Society performance certification test for each welding process completed. The test validates a welder’s ability to produce a quality weld to a known set of standards accepted universally across the United States, Martin said. Completed welds must pass a visual inspection and a destructive test that verifies how it will perform over time. “What they do complete, I want them to master,” Martin said of his students. “That’s important to me and to the industry, too.”
Martin said welding can be a rewarding career. He cautions those who lack a strong work ethic and self- discipline because this field requires hard work. He also advises that there are some added costs involved in the field of study. Students must be prepared to spend about $150 on personal protective safety equipment.
“Our skill set here is a bigger skill set, so for the rest of your career, you have options,” Martin said. “There is flexibility in employment opportunities for folks coming out of here.”