Training the Next Generation of Welders

Colorado Mountain College Leadville welding student

Colorado Mountain College Leadville welding student

There’s a shortage of skilled laborers in America, which means opportunity for those willing to learn the trades. Those who pursue a vocational education, like the Basic Welding and Cutting certification program at Colorado Mountain College Leadville, will have the technical skills required to meet the high demand for welding positions.

According to the American Welding Society, the shortage of qualified operators, technicians, and engineers in the welding field is a potential threat to major U.S. industries. With the average age of professional welders in the mid-50’s, many will retire in the coming years, creating a need for trained welders to replace the aging demographic.

Colorado Mountain College Leadville has worked to develop a welding program for a number of years, identifying the growing need for technical skills in our mountain communities. Geoff Lautzenhiser has grown the CMC Leadville welding program since he was hired as a full-time faculty in fall 2016.

“Welding is a skilled trade, so any student who comes into my shop is going to be leaving here with a skill,” says Geoff, “The welding trade is on the decline. Fewer people are joining the industry than those retiring. I am motivated to bring in a new generation of welders, teach them to look away from technology and develop marketable technical skills.”

This fall, Geoff will offer Basic Shielded Metal Arc (WEL-103), one of two 4-credit courses that fulfill CMC’s Basic Welding and Cutting requirements. In spring 2019, Geoff will teach Oxyacetylene Joining Processes (WEL-102). Students who complete both WEL-103 and WEL-102 will receive a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency in Basic Welding and Cutting.

In addition to the Basic Welding and Cutting Certificate, students can earn a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency in Layout and Fabrication (WEL-250), offered Fall 2018, and Design and Fabrication (WEL-251), offered Spring 2019.

Currently, there are twenty-nine students enrolled in welding classes at Colorado Mountain College Leadville, ten of which are from the Lake County High School dual enrollment program. Students spend a few hours each day learning about welding, earning college and high school credits simultaneously.

“The sky is the limit for professional welding applications,” says Geoff, “Students can pursue careers in almost every industry, automotive, military, construction, naval engineering, farming, heavy machinery, just to name a few.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average income for an American welder in 2016 was $39,390. In Colorado, the average annual income for welders increases to $45,830.
In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average income for a Colorado welder was $45,830, and the average hourly rate was $22.04.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average income for an American welder in 2016 was $39,390. In Colorado, the average annual income for welders increases to $45,830. There are many opportunities for specialty advancement in the welding field. Some earn upwards of $100,000/ year for pipeline and underground welding while military welders pull in as much as $200,000.

Students that complete both the Basic Welding and Cutting Certificate and Pipe Welding Certificates will be prepared to take the American Welding Society (AWS) certification exam.

“My goals for the welding program are to train students in the safety, and welding procedures that are used in the industry,” says Geoff, “Students who complete this program will be desirable candidates for employment as professional welders. Some will be hired upon completion!”

News of the growing demand for trained welders is spreading. Welding classes at Colorado Mountain College Leadville are growing in popularity, and with a 10:1 student-instructor ratio, most classes have a waitlist.

“These classes will fill. If you’re looking to jumpstart a welding career or build technical skills this year,” says Geoff, “I suggest registering for welding courses as soon as possible.”

Learn more about the Basic Welding and Cutting Certificate at coloradomtn.edu or call 719.486.2015 for more information on how to get started.

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