Welding is one of the few career choices in which a student can receive certifications after two semesters of course work and start earning $30 to $40 an hour. For Cerro Coso student Ryan Holden, the Accelerated Welding Program proved just the catalyst he needed to land a well-paying job doing something he truly enjoys.
Sparks flying and the smell of fireworks energize the young man, who has always liked working with his hands. “You always hear you should pursue a career in something you love doing,” he explained. From a family of many welders, his desire to weld just seemed to come naturally.
When Holden first learned about the college’s new accelerated welding program, he knew this was his opportunity to earn the certification he needed to chase his career dreams. What he didn’t expect is that it would pay off so quickly.
Earning his American Welding Society (AWS) and Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certifications last spring landed Holden the job of his dreams working for a ship repair and fabrication company in San Diego.
Welding is one of those professions where quality and productivity are everything. “I feel like I learned a lot from one of the best instructors and experienced welders I know,” said Holden of instructor Herman Foster. “I soaked up everything he said like a sponge,” he continued. “He instilled in us the importance of our welds. He’d say…I want to know when I drive across that bridge it is going to stand up, or that hand rail, it’s going to hold me if I sit on it. Welding can be rough, hard, and dangerous work and it is important that we strive to be the best at what we do. Lives could depend on it.”
The two-semester accelerated welding program at Cerro Coso is the result of a TAACCCT grant awarded by the federal government to provide hands-on instruction and workforce development to help students quickly move from training to work in areas that are in high demand.
Seven students in the accelerated welding program last semester have already found work as a result of the training and certifications they received at Cerro Coso, and the recommendations of their instructor. ‘It’s a quality instructional program,” exclaimed Holden. “I am encouraging my girlfriend and her friends to enroll next semester.”
What does his future hold? Only one thing is for sure…Holden will chart his own course in life as a welder.