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VIP welding grads prepared for good-paying careers in the pipe trades

VIP welding grads prepared for good-paying careers in the pipe trades

There’s nothing like having plans set for a lucrative civilian career to ease the stress of transitioning out of the military.

That’s where the graduates of Joint Base Lewis-McChord Welding Class 26 find themselves, thanks to the United Association Veterans in Piping (UA VIP) program, a Career Skills Program that guarantees transitioning active-duty service members a good-paying civilian job.

The UA VIP program provides participating members of the military with guaranteed placement in a UA-registered apprenticeship program after leaving the military. The program provides the foundation for a lucrative civilian career in a field that has high job demand.

For 18 weeks, the graduates learned basic welding skills alongside an experienced journeyman instructor through hands-on training and classroom instruction. Many earned industry-recognized certifications in oxy-fuel cutting, SMAW plate welding, SPAW and GTAW pipe welding and SMAW pipe spooling.

“I’m really excited to step out of the military directly into a new career path and be able to support my family,” said Army Sgt. Nicholas Painter, who is awaiting the birth of a child. “I enrolled in the UA VIP program because of the direct job entry and the opportunity to join a union. It’s been an absolutely great experience.”

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

UA VIP training is available at select military bases across the country. Each base has its own specialty:


 A well-paid career with great insurance and benefits

Once the Class 26 graduates transition out of the military, they will join a UA-registered apprenticeship program at an agreed-upon location. Some of the students will join unions in Austin, Seattle and Phoenix.

During their apprenticeships, the graduates will earn good union pay while they train. They’ll receive raises as they progress through the program and expand their skill set. They will quickly qualify for quality health insurance for their family and earn a pension and a 401K for their retirement.

Once they complete their apprenticeship, they will become journeymen with numerous opportunities for career advancement. Some may eventually own their own businesses. Others will go on to become foremen or superintendents. Some may eventually become certified UA instructors, perhaps even teaching in the UA VIP program.

 Email and request virtual or in-person program briefings from Joint Base  Lewis-McChord IMCOM.