Kennesaw school to train welders
by Lindsay Field
August 14, 2012 12:18 AM | 16289 views | 11 11 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KENNESAW — A new school devoted to welding is opening in Kennesaw.

“There are plenty of welding jobs available out there, but the average welder is 54 and there aren’t enough young people out there interested in the trade,” said Ryan Blythe, executive director of Georgia Trade School, which will host a ribbon-cutting tonight at 2260 Moon Station Court, Suite 110, in Kennesaw.

Welders earn an average of $22 per hour in Georgia, Blythe said.

The school will begin offering the 15-week class to students later this month, after it receives its post-secondary license from the state. Classes will be held Monday through Friday, 35 hours per week. Open welding labs will be held at night.

Tuition and fees at Georgia Trade School is about $6,750 for the class, which Blythe said is one-third the cost of other schools in the area. Students will be able to earn welding industry certificates with the American Welding Society and American Society of Mechanical Engineers, along with the opportunity to take what Blythe calls the “physical welding test” in four welding processes.

“In addition to welding training, we will also offer an open welding class, so it will be a place for people to send their employees or for people to come learn the trade,” he said.

Three instructors, who have 40 years of experience combined, will teach the courses. They are Eden Parks, Elaine Waters and Sean Quinton.

Waters has been teaching welding since 1998.

“I want people to learn the right way to weld,” Waters said. “People can get hurt if they don’t weld right. Our job is to make sure they have the right procedure and skills.”

She also said that welders can work anywhere and in just about any field.

“You can work with aircraft, work on ships, microscopic welding,” she said. “It’s a wide-open field and a good field to be in. You can do anything with welding.”

The studio, which is a former digital media studio in north Cobb, is about 8,400 square feet and includes 15 welding booths.

“We decided to open in Kennesaw because it gave us an opportunity to be in a university town and surrounded by a young demographic,” Blythe said. “There will be over 2,000 jobs that will come open in the next few years, but we don’t have welders to fill those jobs.”

Debbie Underkoffler, president and CEO of North Georgia Staffing, a job-placement agency headquartered in Kennesaw, said the new school would fill a need in Georgia’s workforce. She is also a member of the board of Chattahoochee Technical College, which offers am 18-month welding and joining technical diploma at its Jasper campus, and a continuing-education class at the North Metro Campus in Acworth where students can earn national certification.

“I’m always looking for different avenues to find welders,” she said. “There’s just a huge skills gap in welding, fabricating, maintenance.

“The skills trade has not been made glamorous to our young people, so now there’s a huge initiative with the governor’s Go Build Georgia to decrease that skills gap and to even introduce them at the elementary schools level,” Underkoffler said. “Once it’s made a little bit more glamorous, we’ll see more young people looking at the career.”

Students at Georgia Trade School must be at least 17 and have either a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma.

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August 28, 2012
What is the phone number to the school for welders on Moon Station rd. ?
August 17, 2012
I would like to know a contact phone number for the school. I want to inquire about going here instead of the 2 year program at the college. I worked for the union for pipefitters and welders. The welders here in ga make 30.00 an hour. If you are willing to travel you can make 48.00 right now in Chicago.
Sean Quinton
August 16, 2012
I think it is important to respond to the comments made by ixliam and bugboy. Ixliam, you made a very good point in your last paragraph that “it takes a very skilled person to do it right” This is the foundation of the training we offer and it is an essential part of a successful welding career. This article is meant to introduce the community to the school and let people know that welding is a career option if they are willing to invest in training. We are extremely thankful that the Marietta Journal took time to include us in their paper but we don’t expect them to be able to tell our story in one article. If you or anyone else walks into our facility I can promise you we are going to be honest about the realities of welding. The difficulty here is we are both right. Of course there are people out there who’s skills only warrant a pay rate of $12 or $13 an hour but just as much I have two friends and former students who are making in excess of $80,000 per year and both of them have only been welding for a little over 2 years. One is on oil rigs out in the gulf and the other is welding pipeline all over the United States.

I could spend all day listing off people who love this industry and have made a great living being a part of it. Our instructors have worked in the field in vast array of environments. We are not just preparing students to be welders we are teaching them how to be great workers. We teach and lead by example. There are so many variables when it comes to seeking employment and it would not be fair to generalize the income potential based on an individual experience. In Georgia the average wage for welders was roughly $33,000 or a little over $16.00/hour in 2011. Keep in mind that number is in the midst of our struggling economy. Consider a person without a skill who may be making $8.00 to $10.00 an hour. In 4 months they could double their income and establish a lifetime career. This isn’t sales smoke and mirrors this is reality.

At a time when not many people are taking the risk of opening or expanding a business you have a couple that has put themselves out there to invest in a community and not only to create jobs for their employees but to provide a path for others to start a career. Our commitment to this business and our students is for the long haul.

I don’t want my response to sound confrontational because it is not that at all. In fact, I would consider it informational. We truly respect the work your family members have done for the industry and I appreciate the time you took to post your comments on this article. You are both welcome to drop by the school any time to check out our facility, learn how we do things, and meet the people who are going to make this a successful business. In spite of my lengthy post I consider myself an Action person so I will close by saying I look forward to proving everything I have written.

Best Regards

Sean Quinton

Vice President/CWI

Georgia Trade School

August 15, 2012
I would like to know where these $22 an hour jobs are located. Temp services pay is low. Get on the phone and call welding companies and see if they are hiring. The work is about as hard as can be done. Burning hot in the summer, even more if you are outside, and you freeze in the winter. How do I know this, well I have been welding for over 40 years. Going to school to learn is great, but until you have 5 or more years of experience, you will struggle.

I do hope the school does good, but take what they tell you with a grain of salt and do all of the research on your own and check other schools for how much it cost.
torch cutter
August 15, 2012
Welding is in high demand, recently articles have appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constituition, The Mobile Press Register and The Wall Street Journal feauturing companies that are struggling to find skilled tradesman. Georgia has started GO Build Georgia a new program designed to make the trades more attractive to young people

Would you rather work on a warship or in a cubicle!
August 16, 2012
I have been hearing that welders are in high demand. All I can add is to just get on the phone and start calling any and all welding companies and just see how big the demand is in the metro Atlanta area.

Also look in the local papers and see if you can find an open welding position. Just my 2 cents worth. Not wanting to argue, but just give it a try.
August 15, 2012
Ixliam, I'm sorry bout the condition of your grandfather. My grandfather was a welder, too and he suffered none of those ailments. Welding is a good profession and America needs them. A good welder can always get a job. I've been welding for over 20 years and some jobs I've made more than $22.oo an hour. It's hard, heavy work and very rewarding. The article said they can make an average (median) pay of $22,oo dollars. They never said it's guaranteed. Like you, I wish the school luck. Some people will really enjoy the profession.
August 14, 2012
Vocational schooling!! Wonderful! Now, can they get up a website that I can find? I will promote the heck out of them!
August 14, 2012
FINALLY - I have wondered when we were going to wake up! We need more "vocational" classes in our high schools, too!
August 14, 2012
I do wish the school luck, but I sure don't buy half the claims they say. My grandfather, father and brother are all welders. Both grandfather and dad own (or owned) their own successful welding business, and the jobs out there now for welders are pretty much non-existent, and those that are don't pay anywhere near that rate. I gave my dad a call and as I ready the article to him, he wanted to know where he could sign up for $22/hr working for someone else. My dad fields several calls a day of out of work welders, looking for work.

That type of work is hard, and it takes its toll on the body. Dad has been a welder since he was about 20, and he's 65 now. His can't bend one of his arms all the way out, due to damage from holding a stinger for so many years. His knees are rubbing bone on bone from squatting down while welding. He was almost killed a few years back when a building he was working on to add roof support to, collapsed - pinning him underneath the roof, gravel and steel. Then there's the bad aspects of the business - spending money for materials, doing the job, then trying to get paid for it. Those of you in construction know how this goes. Or the company that sub'd the work out to you goes under after the job is done. Maybe you will get paid at some point, but in the meantime you need to be ready to go to the next job.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of welding and any other manual labor trade. It takes a very skilled person to do it right. I grew up with it, and it put food on the table and a roof over my head. Even though I have an office job, I know how to weld and use typical shop tools and whatnot. But if someone's going to go into a field like welding, its not this dream that the school is telling folks in order to get students. Work is available when construction is booming, its hard work, and it will take its toll on your body. I see my dad, who is STILL working, suffering with just wear/tear on his body from 45 years of welding - its not something I'd wish on anyone. But its the price that you pay with this type of work. Even my brother who is in his mid-30's is looking for some other line of work. But even for him, there are no 'easy' welding jobs available, and getting outside that line of work will be hard, as welding is the only real skill he knows.
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