Georgia Northwestern Technical College has become known as one of the top-tier colleges for welding in the country. The Welding and Joining Technology diploma is designed to prepare students for careers in the welding industry. The program emphasizes welding theory and practical application in hopes of helping graduates find successful employment.

"Our goal is to get these guys and girls into the industry,” explained Welding Instructor, Jeremiah Cooper. “So we adjust our curriculum to what the industries are needing. So it's really a simulation, so to speak, of what they are going to be doing once they get out of here."

Program graduates receive a Welding and Joining Technology diploma, have the qualifications of a welding and joining technician, and are prepared to take qualification tests. Over the past three years, the Walker County Campus alone, has plugged more than one hundred individuals into the welding industry.

"We got the boilermakers, the ironworkers, the fabrication shops,” exclaimed Cooper. “Basically you name it, it's going on this area.”

And opportunities in the field are expected to grow exponentially as the ability to weld is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after skills in the United States.

"It's actually projected that between now and 2022 there's gonna be 291,000 welding jobs between now and then,” said Cooper. “And there's not a lot of people that can do it. So there's a since of pride that I can get one of those thousands of jobs that are in demand, which means they can make an outstanding wage."

Recent success in national competitions have thrust Georgia Northwestern Technical College into the spotlight.

"Skills USA is put on by the multi-million dollar industry for the welding field,’ explained Cooper. “And 5 out of the last 7 years we've always come out on top. And last year, as a matter of fact, a student from our Rome campus actually one the national championship so he was named the top collegiate welder in the nation."

GNTC competitors won gold medals in 10 total categories this year, besting the 2017 mark of eight total first-place finishes for the college.