A college-level welding certificate will be available at Cambridge-Isanti High School beginning this spring under a new partnership between Anoka Technical College and District 911, officials announced.
Anoka Technical College will offer a Basic Welding certificate, a 17-credit program designed for individuals who want quick access into welding careers. The courses in the Basic Welding certificate also serve as the first semester courses for the college’s Welding Technology diploma, and the AAS degree.
Stan Gustafson, Cambridge’s economic development director, welcomed the news. “I think it’s an excellent opportunity for all,” he said. “We have a lot of need for welders in a variety of capacities in this area.”
Dr. Raymond Queener, superintendent of District 911, said he is excited about the project as well. “I think partnerships between E-12 and postsecondary institutions are not only innovative, they are the way of the future,” he said. “I am passionate about providing the highest quality education to all students, E-16. Sometimes to do that, we have to blur the lines between E-12 and postsecondary, which is what we are looking to accomplish with this project.”
He said Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College have been excellent to work with on this project and thanked the college’s president, Dr. Kent Hanson, for his leadership. “Not only will this project serve our students better, it will help serve the region as the need for high-quality welders continues to increase,” he added.
Under the partnership, the high school’s welding facility will be upgraded and expanded to what’s needed for a college-level lab, said Sherry Butcher Wickstrom, Anoka Technical College’s dean of academic affairs. “We already have 16 welding booths that have been redesigned and we will add another nine next summer to offer weekend and evening welding classes for a cohort of 25.”
To make sure about the need for welders, the college contacted 10 companies in the Cambridge area to determine exactly what skills their welders need, what career paths are available and what kind of training is needed, Wickstrom said. “The answers made us feel confident about going forward with this project,” she added.
Employment for welders is projected to grow 18 percent in Minnesota from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Welders in Minnesota earn a median hourly wage of $18.95.
Welders and solderers can advance to more skilled jobs with additional training and experience. For example, experienced welders may become technicians, supervisors, inspectors or instructors. Other experienced welders and solderers open their own repair shops.
Cambridge-Isanti High School Principal Mitchell Clausen said, “We have always had a good welding program but over time our equipment has not kept up with industry standards. To form a partnership with Anoka Technical College is a win-win for both the high school and the college. We get a nice upgrade to industry standards and college classes are offered to our students and community.
“Our students can start their welding program as juniors, earn college credits, then continue to get certification without having to drive every day to Anoka Technical College,” he said. “We look forward to a nice partnership with the plan to expand in other areas too. We are very excited and our students and community will reap the benefits.”
The Anoka Technical College Welding Technology program is designed and taught by industry professionals to provide graduates exceptional welding skills for success in the work place. The program offers a series of building blocks to provide quick access into a welding career. This flexibility allows students to stop and re-start as their life allows.
Anoka Technical College and District 911 partner to bring a college-level welding certificate to Cambridge-Isanti High School beginning this spring.