About the photo above: 2011 Regional Skills USA medalists Cole Hanly (right) and Mike Trumpy (left) with welding instructor Larry Bower (center). Cole represented Blackhawk Technical College at the national competition and was named an "Alliant Scholar" by the Alliant Energy Foundation.

Welding is the most common way of permanently joining metal parts. Heat is applied to the pieces to be joined, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond. Because of its strength, welding is used to construct and repair parts of ships, automobiles, spacecraft, and thousands of other manufactured products. Welding is used to join beams and steel reinforcing rods when constructing buildings, bridges, and other structures, and also in utilities such as nuclear power plants.

Welding program students advance through each semester in a cohort group, or may choose single process classes. Learning modules progressively build on what has been accomplished in exercises, practical assignments and exams. 

Welders may perform manual welding, in which the work is entirely controlled by the welder, or semi-automatic welding, in which the welder uses machinery, such as a wire feeder, to perform welding tasks.

Welders develop those manipulative skills, which are necessary to the welding of joints common to all metal industries. They understand and apply the proper theories of welding, cleaning and fabrication to appropriate shop applications. Welders know how to read blueprints, utilize the necessary tools, and perform the mathematical functions essential to the completion of a project. Welders follow and apply safety practices and procedures as they relate to industrial situations. They are able to understand and communicate technical information related to the profession.

Graduates of the program can expect to be proficient in welding structural steel, aluminum, stainless steel and other metals. They will develop the ability of blueprint reading, sketching, and layout for welding. Major job skills learned will include: Oxygen-Fuel Cutting (OFC), Plasma Arc Cutting (PAC), Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), Flux Core Arc Welding (FCAW), Metal Core Arc Welding (MCAW), and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW).

In response to employer and student demand for additional educational opportunities, BTC has created several pathway certificates within the Welding Program.  They are Introduction to Gas Metal Arc Welder, Shielded Metal Arc Welder, Gas Tungsten Arc Welder and Flux Cored Arc Welder.  These certificates can be earned while taking courses within the main program.  The additional opportunities provide students a set of industry recognized skills and abilities that will prepare them for entry level employment.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of this program, you will be able to:

  • Integrate established safety protocol
  • Set-up, repair, and maintain tools and equipment using established procedures
  • Operate power tools and equipment using established processes and procedures
  • Perform welding, cutting, and allied processes using established procedures
  • Inspect welded specimens
  • Meet time guidelines

Career Outlook:

In construction, wholesale trade, and repair services, employment of welders and cutters will grow more rapidly than most other occupations. The level of construction is expected to expand, as is the number of metal products needing repair, increasing the need for welding and cutting.