Although Craven Community College (CCC) has offered a welding diploma and the ability to test for welding certifications since the 1960s, for the first time this fall, an associate in applied science degree in in this field will be available on the New Bern campus.Meanwhile, the Havelock campus has added basic welding stations in the Institute of Aeronautical Technology to provide workforce development (WFD) certification offerings.
The United States is facing increasing demand for skilled welders due to the profession’s aging workforce and the economic rebound for manufacturing and construction. Welding is a process of applying heat to metal pieces, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond.
“Our welding program now offers options that provide good old-fashioned, hands-on training for immediate employment as well as pathways for further education and career growth,” said Jim Millard, dean of career programs for the college. With expansion in all areas of welding on the New Bern campus to include pipe welding, metallurgy and fabrication, the freshman class can accept 12 students into the associate degree program this fall.
Workforce Development’s first welding certification class started in March at the Havelock campus. This Level 1 Welding training program follows the nationally-recognized National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) curriculum. The 377.5 hour training includes the core safety curriculum and can be completed in six months. WFD’s program can accept up to 15 students.
WFD plans on providing the Level 1 training course in New Bern plus the three additional levels of welding training offered by NCCER, in the near future, according to Robin Matthews, interim dean of WFD. “Welding is a skill that is in demand across many industries including manufacturing, construction, oil and gas, road and highway construction, and the military,” said Matthews. The next Level 1 Welding class begins July 8 in Havelock.
Melody Biechlin (pronounced Bee-k-lin) is a non-traditional college student in that she returned to CCC several years after high school, is a mom, and was one of the few women in the welding certificate program. “I was tired of working as a restaurant server and wanted to do more,” said Biechlin. She received four welding certificates and has worked for BSH Home Appliances Corporation since July 2013 as a production TIG (tungsten inert gas) welder. She does precision work with 22-gauge stainless steel for one of the company’s oven products. “Welding is the backbone of many American industries, and the program prepared me very well for my job,” she said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), the average wage for welding and related jobs was $36,000 in May 2012. “Welding is a great career that is here to stay and CCC will continue to evolve its education to meet the demands of our local and global economies,” said Millard.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.