Lincoln Tech has 22 campuses located throughout the United States, and they have been educating tomorrow’s workforce since 1946. Lincoln Tech trains its students to enter the workforce in the automotive, skilled trades, health sciences, culinary, spa and cosmetology, and information technology career fields. They are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
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Bob Martin: Joining us today on today’s episode of Imagine America Radio is Kevin Clark, campus president, Lincoln Tech – East Windsor, Connecticut. Topic of today’s episode: welding careers.
Kevin, I want to thank you for taking time out of your very busy day in this hectic time to talk about this important career area.
Kevin Clark: You’re very welcome. I’m glad to be here.
Bob: So, for the benefit of our listeners, let’s just start off with what’s the typical day at Lincoln Tech in East Windsor for a welding student, from the time he comes in to the time he leaves?
Kevin: Sure. A welding student could be in one of three different shifts. We have an a.m. shift, an afternoon shift, and an evening shift. The morning shift runs from 7:15 to 12:15, the afternoon shift runs from 12:45 to 5:45, and the evening runs from 6:00 to 11:00, Monday through Friday.
And in a typical day, if I can expand on that a little bit, a day is made up mostly of hands-on work. In order to be a welder, you have to be welding. So, our program is made up mostly of hands-on. There is a lecture portion, so on any given day a student might spend an hour, frankly, at the most, in an actual classroom setting where the instructor starts the day by just greeting folks and then basically shares techniques with them and shows them on a theoretical basis how different skills work. Like arc welding, for instance, they would talk a little bit about how that actually works. And then from there, the students are out in the shop for the rest of the four hours and they’re actually welding while the instructors are going from booth to booth to actually give hands-on coaching and demonstrating and showing them exactly how to weld. So, most of the day is absolutely spent doing welding, which is exactly what people want to be doing when they enter that field.
Lee Doubleday: That’s great. And, so, I have a question. This is Lee. I’m talking to Kevin Clark, the campus president of Lincoln Tech in East Windsor, Connecticut. Can you kind of give me a breakdown of exactly what a welder does?
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. Sure. A graduate from Lincoln Tech – East Windsor will have working knowledge and skills to qualify as either a structural and/or a pipe welder. They can work in construction, fabrication, or plant maintenance. Pipe welders—if you think pipelines that transport things like oil, gas, etc.—those folks assemble, maintain, and install piping systems, while structural welders create metal framework for things like buildings and bridges, as well as repairing them.
Lee: Very cool. And what does the career outlook look like for a welder, both at a national level and also in the New England area?
Kevin: Yeah, sure. The prospects are absolutely fantastic. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, by 2028 it’s projected there will be a need to hire nearly 500,000 welders across the country. And in New England alone, the job growth is expected to be around 8,000 for welders.
Lee: Wow, 500,000 welders across the country. Well, with welding being at such high demand, it definitely seems like something worth getting an education in.
Should someone go to school to learn how to become a welder? What type of program should they be looking to get into? Does something like metal fabrication or pipefitting, is that something maybe they should be looking to get into? And how long is a typical welding program? I apologize, it’s sort of a three-parted question.
Kevin: Yeah, someone should definitely go to school to learn how to be a welder. Obviously, by going to school, a student will learn the proper techniques to be the most competent and proficient welder possible, which obviously you would not get if you did not go to school.
The Lincoln Tech program teaches shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, flux core arc welding, and gas tungsten arc welding. Students learn to do plate welding and pipe in various positions like horizontal, vertical, and overhead. Students also learn various techniques for cutting and preparing metal for welding procedures, as well as blueprint reading. So again, if you aren’t in school, that would be very hard to learn on your own.
Lee: Awesome. And how long is a typical welding program?
Kevin: Oh yeah, I’m sorry. So, our program is only 10 months long. In just 10 months—less than a year—students will get all of that knowledge.
Lee: That’s fantastic. Now, this is Lee again with Kevin Clark, campus president of East Windsor, Connecticut. Now, let’s say I’m a student and I’m interested in welding. When I tour a campus, either virtually or physically—hopefully, here in the future—what are a few things that I should be looking for?
Because it seems like a program such as this is going to require some really updated equipment in order to stay relevant in different work environments. Would the equipment that the school uses be something I should be considering, and what else should I be considering? Accreditation, maybe length of program, instructor experience, or even maybe partnerships that the school may have with employers. What would you suggest to the student who was interested in becoming a welder look at when looking to choose a school?
Kevin: Yeah, those are all great points and questions. If I were a student, I would be taking all those things into consideration that you just brought up. So, first thing I recommend is that students do a tour. That way, the students can see firsthand what the school is like, the environment, get a sense of the equipment, and what it looks like.
There’s only one way to really learn to weld and that’s by welding, they will be doing the actual welding. Before that, they will be doing all the lecture portion—they get that out of the way—and then they’ll be in the school to do the hands-on. As a potential student, you should want to see everything in action; it gives the potential student an opportunity see themselves in the environment before they even commit.
As for the other questions, you definitely want the school to be accredited and be recognized in the industry. Being an AWS (or American Welding Society) curriculum like ours is and being accredited through ACCSC [Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges], which is our accreditor—it shows the school is conducting training in the correct manner on numerous fronts, but especially in the eyes of the individuals in the industry.
I think the length and the time of the program is also certainly something that’s important. You don’t want to just rush through in a crash course, resulting in being underprepared and not feeling confident to be out there in the industry. So, length and the time of the program should be adequate to give the skills to the graduates to be successful in the field. And that’s why, as I said before, our program is 10 months long because it’s less than a year—people can get in in a fairly small duration of time, in less than that year—but it does offer them everything they need to know to go out there and feel competent about being a welder.
Other things I’d be asking about and looking into, if I were a student, would be the place and rates, and if they have success stories, which we have many of. I would want to know if the school had industry relationships, and if there was a team of individuals that would assist in placing grads in the industry that they’re at the school for, like Lincoln Tech – East Windsor does. Because we have a placement—we have a career services office that assists students to find the job that they can do school for.
So those are all things, I think, that students should keep in mind when they’re looking.
Bob: Ah, great answer, Kevin. Thank you very much. Before we close, I got one more question. We’re talking to Kevin Clark, campus president, Lincoln Tech – East Windsor, Connecticut.
As you look across your student body, and you look across your graduates, and you look across your alumni, what three or four personality traits do you see embodied in those people—in whatever degree they may be—that had made them a successful student, have made them a potentially successful employee, and maybe they start their own business and they’re a successful business person.
Kevin: Yeah. Sure. Absolutely. I think some of them are communication, I think a willingness to learn, being a team player, and ability to accept constructive criticism are all really good traits to have. Someone should be okay with repetition and, of course, patience is always important.
As a welder, they need to be able to communicate effectively with their management and coworkers, especially if they’re welding one piece of the final product because, obviously, at the most critical phase of it, you want to make sure that it’s right on par with what needs to happen.
The trade is—it’s constantly changing, and they need to show a willingness to learn and be adaptable to new changes in the field and learn new different techniques. Being a team player is also important, I think, because they are one part of a team in majority of situations. Their ability to accept constructive criticism, I think, is also imperative because that’ll only help them to strengthen their skills and learn. Somebody who is not open to receiving constructive criticism may miss an opportunity to learn something different and explore some other new paths that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
So I think, generally, those are things that would be important.
Bob: My first takeaway from today’s conversation with you is that I understand that welding careers are in extremely high demand, with job opportunities available both nationally and regionally. Further, I understand that according to BLS data, by 2028 there are projected to be 500,000 job opportunities nationwide for welders and 8,000 in the New England area alone.
My second takeaway is I hear that Lincoln Tech – East Windsor, Connecticut, is a leading nationally accredited school providing education and training needed to fill these jobs right now. You’ve got the programs that will lead people to successful careers in employment.
Third, my takeaway is if they want to know anything more about this particular episode and this career, you, Kevin Clark, are an outstanding resource, and you are available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin: Yeah. Absolutely. You got it.
Bob: Thank you. Thank you, Kevin. I want to thank our guest, Kevin Clark, president, Lincoln Tech – East Windsor, Connecticut, for taking time out of his valuable schedule to bring us up on these valuable career areas.
The second thing we like to do is thank our audience, who’s taking time out of their very busy and hectic schedules to listen to this podcast and get the information. We hope it’s been useful. Thank you very much and be safe.