ST. PETERSBURG — Advanced welding is a new course in the Welding Technology program at Pinellas Technical College (PTC). Advance welding teaches students the technique of welding pipes, whereas basic welding teaches them how to weld building structures. It was introduced to the already established welding program this past August.
Advanced welding is 750 additional hours of training and it is required that every student pass the 1,050 hours of basic welding training in order to enroll.
Nineteen-year-old Michael Henrikson just recently graduated from the basic Welding Technology program and is now enrolled in the advanced course.
“It feels pretty good because I’m one of the furthest ones ahead in here now,” he said in reference to the mixed classroom training of basic and advanced. He enjoys mentoring his classmates and is proud of his decision to advance his skills.
“Actually, I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school,” he shared. “And I went to the Pinellas Technical College website, and the first thing that popped up was applied welding. I saw somebody cutting something and I was like, ‘That looks pretty cool, why don’t I give it a shot?’ So I did, and I haven’t looked back.”
Henrikson sees his future career in pipe welding because he enjoys the challenges it brings and the stable income is a plus. There are a variety of job opportunities open to welders, not just working in the construction field.
For instance, MIG welding (Gas Metal Arc Welding) is used for industrial and home welding. TIG (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) is a style of welding that focuses on fusing together smaller parts such as making machines for restaurants and stained glass. It is said to be the most tedious out of the styles, which is just fine for 28-year-old Lauren Gioe.
“I find it fascinating and creative—the metals fusing together getting so hot,” Gioe, who is close to graduating said.
She likes working with her hands so she feels that welding is a good career choice. The 11 months in the program have flown by for her because she has enjoyed the projects, learning and bonding with her classmates.
Gioe is the only female in the class but she doesn’t notice because she is treated just like the male students.
“It’s no big deal to me,” she said. “It’s like being in a class with a bunch of brothers.”
PTC instructor Jay Nunes, who has spent more than 35 years in the welding industry, wants to get rid of the notion that welding is a man’s job because he has worked with many successful women in the field.
“Women are fantastic at TIG welding,” he said. “There are plenty of shops around here that do small kind of work like that where you’re working in a nice air-conditioned environment and you have your welding gear on sitting at a bench doing fine work. There’s so many different aspects of welding that people don’t realize.”
The first week is spent in the classroom with books and training on a virtual state-of-the-art welding machine. Generally during the first 10 days of classroom training, students demonstrate they understand welding safety and move into the shop where they work with real welding machines and spend the remainder of their time learning all the basics and different types of welding.
Nunes is happy to pass along his welding skills and knowledge to his students. When he heard over a year ago that PTC was reconstructing their welding program, he knew he could make a difference.
“I came here to leave a legacy of a functional welding program that would last well beyond my years.”
Job placement is high for this trade skill. Classes begin next month, so hurry and reserve your spot by visiting pcsb.org/myptc or calling (727) 893-2500. Financial aid is available.