PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Black River Technical College is offering a special welding course for those who want to pursue careers where extremely precise welding is important.
Skilled pipe welders are a rare commodity and bring in top dollar for their work. The new welding course at Black River Technical College doesn't give you college credit, it's teaching valuable skills.
The skills these guys are learning are truly amazing and can be used world wide. David Mason was putting this first class of pipe welders through their paces. Even with just only four students in this initial program, the welders and grinders were humming away.
The 18 week course is getting close to finishing up. A former pipe welder himself, Mason says welding like this is special because of the safety demands on the finished product.
Mason, "This type of welding is used in paper mills, power houses, nuclear powerhouses, coal fired powerhouses, things like that." Mason says that even though there are lots of welders out there, having this kind of skill is very much in demand and closely inspected. "And that's the quality of work that has to be done and they pay them for having that skill set to do that of a quality of craft."
The course is taught at Black River Technical College in Paragould but is not a college course. That means no credit or college loans. Students must come up with the 68 Hundred dollar course fee themselves. The three students we talked to had financed the course by either bank loans or the family had loaned them the money. Two of the three worked full time jobs after school was over.
Keith Eddings runs an auto body shop. He was working with a TIG welder as I looked over his shoulder. Eddings says if you land the right job the course pays for itself.
Eddings, "Your investment will pay off in two months. It will pay for the course itself."
The lab is state of the art. It has been newly remodeled and equipped for this program...and it's "green" as much as a welding shop can be.
Mason, "The whole idea is not to waste resources. We have a good recycling program here. We have a vent system that will filter this smoke before it is released into the atmosphere."
The school day begins at Seven and ends at One. Students spend an hour or so a day in a classroom and then 5 hours hands-on. Students use, stick, MIG, flux core and TIG welders.
Eddings says he wishes he had started this program when he was a younger man. "It's very demanding." He says. "Hand and eye coordination. I mean you gotta have it to be a good welder and be real picky with your work. One little mistake you have to stop and fix it before you go on. It's all X-ray quality."
Mason says when you apply for a job as a pipe welder they will inspect your work very closely. If it doesn't meet standards, very critical standards, it's "Thanks for coming...next."
There will be a new class starting up in November and Mason says he hopes to have more students as word gets out.