by Eric Jensen
Everything boils down to weld quality.
That’s what students in Victoria College’s Welding Program must demonstrate during qualification testing.
“We do mock weld tests for all of our processes and in all weld positions,” explained Wade Vrana, Welding Curriculum Coordinator and Associate Professor. “When you apply for a job as a welder, there’s more to it than taking your credentials in and saying ‘I’m qualified.’ The employer will want to test the applicant no matter what credentials they may hold. Even if they have years of experience, every applicant must pass a qualification test prior to getting hired. Our test prepares students for industry expectations.”
The test consists of the student performing welds, either on a plate or pipe. This could include any process, depending on the type of job the student is seeking. The welds are subject to visual and destructive testing acceptance criteria outlined by national welding codes. How well they do on the tests determines whether they will be offered a job and what their pay might be.
Victoria College uses welding curriculum designed by the National Center for Construction, Education, and Research (NCCER).
“Our graduates have strong entry-level skills,” Vrana said. “They can go to work in production, construction, and maintenance in the chemical plants, do oilfield work, or be an independent contractor.”
Many VC welding graduates find jobs in chemical plants and production shops where they are focused on efficiency and producing a product fast.
“Saying you are a welder covers a broad scope,” he added.
Victoria College offers two Level 1 certificates in welding, basic and advanced, with students receiving nearly 1,000 hours of training. This training covers multiple welding processes including shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, flux cord arc welding, and gas tungsten arc welding. Training can be completed in as little as a year.
Noncredit Workforce & Continuing Education welding courses are held two days a week in the evenings. Welding I is approximately 18 weeks and is held at VC’s Liberty Street Industrial Training Center in Victoria, Calhoun County Center in Port Lavaca, and at the Gonzales Center. Welding 2, which is also approximately 18 weeks, is offered at the Liberty Street Industrial Training Center and the Gonzales Center. A Welding 2/3 Combo course, which is approximately 23 weeks, is offered at the Calhoun County Center. Upon completion of each level, students receive a certificate of completion and national NCCER certification.
Welders, Cutters, & Welder Fitters
What They Do:
Use hand-welding or flame-cutting equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.
How Much Does It Pay?
$25,000 to $55,000 annually
- 662 welders, cutters, and welder fitters are employed in the region.
- Job opportunities are expected to grow by 6.3% over the next four years.
- 19% are over the age of 55 and will probably retire soon.
Education & Training
Victoria College offers a Basic Welding Certificate and an Advanced Welding Certificate. Credits earned toward these certificates can be transferred to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree. VC also offers two levels of welding training courses.
Source: emsi Career Coach 2014