NWF Welding Spotlight

In May 2014, Northwest Florida State College saw its largest graduating class in its 50-year history, with 2,046 students completing their coursework and preparing to move on to the next step in their lives.

Among those walking across the stage was the first graduate to receive a Welding Certificate in NWF's newest technical program. George Price, of Baker, was the first student to complete the program, but he will be followed by many others who have chosen this in-demand, career-path program. Price was able to complete the program in only two semesters due to articulated credits he was able to carry over after graduating from Baker High School. He is currently employed as a department welder for the Okaloosa County School District.

"I learned a lot during my classes at NWF," Price said. "While at NWF, I was welding for eight hours a day compared to only one or two hours of welding in high school. My courses at NWF prepared me well for my career in this profession."

NWF responded to regional demand for skilled welders by launching its new vocational certificate program in Welding Technologies during fall semester 2013. The program is funded by a federal Department of Labor grant to meet the demand for high-skill, high-wage jobs in Northwest Florida.

Because of the demand, NWF has now added an evening option for those interested in the field of welding. The NWF Applied Welding Technologies night program will begin this fall on the Niceville campus, and is now accepting applications. These classes will be offered Monday to Friday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Limited spots are available, and applicants are accepted on a first come, first served basis.

"Our welding program provides students the skills, knowledge and customized training required to be a professional welder," said Scottie Smith, NWF Welding Instructor. "The program prepares graduates for entry into the job market and includes six courses that can generally be completed in three semesters."

The NWF Welding program also offers a pathway to an Associate of Science (AS) degree in Engineering Technology, and students may earn nationally recognized certifications from completion of the National Center for Construction Education and Research curriculum in the program.

Employment of welders is expected to grow 15 percent from 2010 to 2020. Pay may vary widely based on skill level, technical knowledge, work habits and location. Some manufacturing welders are paid $11 to $15 per hour, while highly skilled journeymen construction pipe welders can typically earn $25 to $30 per hour base pay.

Interested students should complete the NWF application for admission at www.nwfsc.edu/admissions or at any of the college's seven area locations. Financial aid is available for students interested in the Welding program. NWF's tuition is among the lowest in the state.

For information about NWF's Applied Welding Technologies program, contact Scottie Smith or Brianna Gray in the Welding program office at (850) 729-5224 or (850) 729-5221.

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