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Fort Carson Welding Class 27 students begin accelerated welding training


The students accepted to be a part of Fort Carson Welding Class 27 have begun their advanced welding training that they will use after they transition out of the military and begin a rewarding civilian career. 

The students are part of the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) Program, a DOD SkillBridge initiative that has been teaching transitioning active-duty service members since 2008 the fundamental skills to start a career in the pipe trades after they transition out of the military. 

During the 118 days of training, the students in Class 27 will receive a combination of classroom and hands-on instruction from an experienced journeyman instructor. 

They have the opportunity to earn a number of industry-recognized certifications while also learning foundational welding skills. Among the welding certifications available to the students are oxy-fuel cutting, SMAW plate welding, SPAW and GTAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling.

Before graduating from the UA VIP Program, the students will also learn how to study blueprints in order to measure, cut and weld accurately using a variety of tools and methods.

Skilled welders are in high demand across the U.S., which provides the program graduates a potentially lucrative future as they will be able to install, maintain and repair a wide range of piping systems. 

For U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Shapiro, the UA VIP program offers a direct route to a fulfilling career. With prior experience in general contracting, Shapiro was drawn to the program's structured approach and the promise of hands-on training. 

“My goal is to get as much out of this program as possible,” Shapiro said.

Similarly, Army Spc. Mitchal Maines sees the program as a gateway to acquiring valuable welding, pipefitting and applied mathematics skills.

“My goal is to continue on and eventually become a journeyman welder,” Maines said.

With training available in welding, HVACR and fire suppression at seven select military bases across the U.S., the UA VIP program invites veterans to explore the civilian career possibilities that lie ahead:

What comes after the UA VIP program 

After graduating from the program and transitioning out of the military, VIP graduates receive direct entry into a DOL-registered UA apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location. 

As an apprentice, VIP graduates will engage in the earn-while-you-learn model and receive a livable wage while learning skills through classroom education and on-the-job training. While in the five-year apprenticeship, they will also quickly become eligible for comprehensive full-family healthcare and retirement benefits, including a 401k and pension. 

After completing the apprenticeship program, VIP graduates will officially become journeymen welders, opening themselves up to a multitude of career paths. 

Active-duty service members looking for a civilian career after transitioning out of the military are encouraged to apply to the UA VIP program during their last six months of service. Training is available in welding, HVAC-R and fire suppression.