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VIP Camp Pendleton welding class 38 grads look forward to new careers

U.S. Marine Sgt. Orion Manasco was attracted to the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program because it provided him the opportunity to work with his hands and learn a valuable trade.

Now that he and his fellow classmates are graduating from Camp Pendleton Welding Class 38, they will have the opportunity to begin a valuable civilian career once they transition out of the military. The students will begin a UA registered apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location.

“I’m looking forward to learning as much as possible, refining my skills and becoming a journeyman,” Manasco said. “One day, I’d like to potentially make my way to be an instructor at a training facility.”

The UA VIP program is a Career Skills Program (CSP) for transitioning active-duty service members. It provides a guaranteed civilian job through a UA registered apprenticeship program. 

For 18 weeks, the students trained alongside a certified journeyman instructor through a combination of classroom experience and hands-on training. They learned basic welding skills. The students also earned certifications in oxy-fuel cutting, SMAW plate welding, SPAW and GTAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling.

“I was always attracted to welding, and the career path through the UA was very appealing,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Donavon Ugalino. “Through the UA VIP program, I’ve learned different welding techniques and safety procedures and how pipefitting and welding go together in the bigger picture.”

Transitioning active-duty service members are invited to apply to the UA VIP program during their last six months of enlistment. UA VIP training is available in welding, HVAC and fire suppression. 

A great career with good pay and benefits

Once they begin their UA registered apprenticeship program, the graduates will earn good union wages while they learn additional skills. They will quickly qualify for quality health insurance for their family. They will also earn a pension and a 401K for their retirement.

Their pay will steadily increase as they progress through the apprenticeship program and gain additional skills.

“I’m looking forward to progressing my career as I continue to learn and become a journeyman,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Juan Alvarez.

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