As the petrochemical industry continues to thrive in the Gulf Coast region, the demand for pipefitters will remain constant.
“Plants must constantly maintain their infrastructure and that requires skilled pipefitters to keep operations going,” said Alfred Sustaita, ACC welding instructor.
“There are sections of pipelines that must be replaced periodically,” Sustaita said. “This is an ongoing process.”
To help employers meet their demands, ACC offers a 160-hour certificate Pipefitting program. It introduces the basics in beginners’ pipefitting. Students will receive a certificate upon successful completion of the following courses: Pipefitter Layout and Welding Fundamentals.
Pipefitter Layout: This is the first class of a 5-week pipefitting program which covers pipefitting and pressure vessel fabrication. Also included is the study and interpretation of orthographic and isometric flow and spool sheets. Students must attend this course along with Welding Fundamentals.
Welding Fundamentals: This second class of a 5 week pipefitting program is an introduction to the fundamentals of equipment used in oxy-fuel and arc welding, including welding and cutting safety, basic oxy-fuel welding and cutting, basic arc welding processes and basic metallurgy.
Student Dave Jazdyk, of Friendswood, signed up for the program recently and hopes to earn the certification to increase his job skills and employability.
“I enjoy learning new skills,” said Jazdyk, a veteran of the U.S. Navy. “It’s potentially a new trade for me.”
The pipefitting program is also an attractive choice for local veterans. ACC offers free training to veterans for Pipefitting. The Texas Workforce Commission recently issued a $248,691 grant to ACC to fund education for local veterans and prepare them for the workforce.
“The labor market for pipefitters is growing as many in the workforce are planning to retire,” Sustaita said.
“A skilled craftsman can get a job today,” he said.
Positions in pipefitting are expected to grow by 21 percent over the next eight years according to the U.S. Labor Department. The average salary is approximately $49,000 ($23.58/hour).
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From basic torch cutting to shielded metal arc welding and TIG welding techniques, the ACC Welding program offers a variety of courses designed to help start or continue a career in welding.
“Like many industrial professions in the Gulf Coast region, the need for welders is tremendous,” said Alfred Sustaita, ACC welding instructor.
The majority of welders working in the field are now 55 or older. Many are due to retire soon, leaving a large gap in the job market.
“It’s extremely vital to fill those positions,” Sustaita said.
The 420-hour program at ACC adheres to the quality standards set forth by the American Welding Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Welding courses combine classroom studies with extensive hands-on training in the welding lab. Classes have a maximum students to instructor ratio of 10 to 1 to ensure the best possible learning environment. Once they finish the program students can find positions in petrochemical refineries, construction companies, fabrication shops and ship yards.
The average hourly wage in the Houston region for a welder is $19 an hour and hiring is expected to grow in the next 10 years by 15 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
A job placement counselor is available to assist graduates seeking employment and students are encouraged to join a registry of program graduates that is updated when new job opportunities arise. Courses are approved by the Veterans Administration.
Welding is a good option for those who want to join the workforce immediately, Sustaita said.
“You can learn a craft and earn a decent living in a relatively short amount of time,” he said.
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Process Technology is a fast-growing job market in the region and ACC offers a two-year Associate’s Degree in Applied Science for those interested in the field.
“There’s a lot of capital investment into the industry right now,” said Curtis Crabtree, Chair, Process Technology Department. “Our students are taking advantage of the opportunities that are available.”
The Process Technology program at ACC prepares students to become process technicians in the refining, petrochemical, power generation, oil and gas production, food, metals, minerals and other process industries. Technical knowledge and skills will be gained in areas such as operating equipment, instrumentation systems, process systems, process troubleshooting and computer applications.
The program also includes instruction in math, science, technology and safety.
Some of the companies that partner with ACC include: Shell, LyondellBassell, INEOS, Ascend Material, Marathon Petroleum, Dow, Keeshan Bost, ChevronPhillips, Phillips 66, Preferred Engineering and more. The partnerships include internships for students, testing, and the development of interview skills. In addition, the employers serve on the advisory committee. LyondellBassell and Shell also have awarded grant funds and provided equipment for the program.
“The industry lays out the guidelines what they need in a candidate,” Crabtree said. “We do our best to prepare our students to meet those requirements. We upgrade our training materials and equipment that students will encounter on the job including process simulators and hardware.”
Demand for Process Technicians has fueled a nearly 100-percent job placement rate for ACC graduates and many students are hired before graduation. Starting annual salaries for process operators range from $50,000 to $60,000, with excellent benefits.
For more information, call 281-756-3785 or email ProcessTech@alvincollege.edu