Inside the Gillette College Technical Education Center, the L & H Industrial Welding Lab contains individual workspaces along with machinery.
Northern Wyoming Community College District (NWCCD) recently announced the launch of a new one-year welding certificate, with classes offered on Fridays and Saturdays. According to a Jan. 13 press release, this specific certificate was designed to accommodate working adults.
“The college is hoping the weekend program will open doors into welding for people working a full-time job,” Gillette College Welding Instructor Troy Miller said.
Miller noted that he hopes the program will reach more people and help to fill the workforce gap as the market for welders is strong in Campbell County and across the nation.
Both the weekend program and the traditional welding certificate program already offered by the college follow the same 30-credit curriculum that gets students ready for entry-level welding career opportunities.
Miller typically loses half of his students to jobs when the welding technology certificates are awarded at the end of each school year due to high demand and good pay, he said. The other half tend to continue on in the Associate of Applied Science degree program that further develops skills as the certificate transitions over with no loss of credit or time.
The certificate program offers students an overall understanding of welding machines, processes, and hands-on proficiency, students will develop skills in the areas of print reading, welding symbols, welding inspection, and destructive and non-destructive testing, according to the course description, to help them gain knowledge and skills to prepare them for welding qualification.
NWCCD will provide a free information session about the Weekend Welding Certificate from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, at the Gillette College Technical Education Center.
The session will cover the application process, advising and financial aid resources, housing options, job outcomes, and details of the program’s schedule.
With the Friday classes set to run from noon to 9 p.m., and Saturday classes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Miller said it will be a long, hard two days that won’t provide much flexibility for students to miss a class due to the amount of information being covered each day.
“We developed this new certificate to give working adults an opportunity to advance their careers with a skill that is in high demand in our region,” NWCCD President Dr. Walt Tribley said. “We are excited to provide our industry partners with the workforce they need while giving working students access to education.”
The welding certificate program could not have come at a better time for the state, according to Gillette Workforce Center Manager Rick Mansheim.
“Welders are in pretty high demand across Wyoming,” he said, noting that highly-skilled welders are also in demand locally.
Wyoming is the second top-paying state in the nation for welders and also the number five state with the highest concentration of welding jobs, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Long-term occupation projections show a 19.6% increase in welding jobs in Wyoming, which are significantly higher than the national projection of a 5.6% increase from 2016 to 2026 as reported by Projections Central.
Gillette College’s Weekend Welding Certificate is umbrellaed under Wyoming Works, a 2019 state initiative to increase the number of adults with a college degree of certificate that provides grant money to adult students to help with the costs of returning to school. There are other scholarships available that students may also qualify for. On-campus housing is available.
“Whether you are already working in a technical field and want to add to your skillset or you are looking to retool for a completely new career, the Weekend Welding Certificate is a great opportunity that will work with your busy schedule,” said Dr. Estella Castillo-Garrison, NWCCD vice president for academic affairs.