VRAP paves way for unemployed veterans to launch welding careers.

Monday, January 7, 2013

In Alaska, welders earn salaries well above the national average and demand for these trained workers is expected to keep growing.1 Welders are needed across industries including, pipelines, refineries, ships, fisheries, construction, and manufacturing. Now, unemployed Anchorage, Alaska veterans who are between 35 and 60 can get the training they need to work as welders with assistance from the government’s Veterans Retraining Assistance Program or VRAP.2

Recognizing the need for new employees to fill high demand jobs, as well as the large number of older, unemployed, veterans, the government launched VRAP. VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to qualified Anchorage veterans who are 35-60 years old, unemployed and not eligible for any other GI education benefits. Training assistance is limited to VA approved education programs offered by a community college or technical school. The program must train the veteran for a high demand occupation like welding.2

Click here for a complete list of high-demand occupations.

In 2011, Alaskan welders earned nearly $34 an hour and a median income of $70,400. The need for welders is expected to keep growing by 13% through 2018.1 This makes welding an attractive choice for unemployed Anchorage veterans.

MIG, TIG, stick, spot and gas welding are all different welding techniques used for different materials. A good welding certification program will provide training in all welding techniques. The basic skills of welding are the same across industries, so welders can easily shift from one industry to another, depending on where they are needed most.

When trained welders look for jobs, there are many titles that may apply to their skill set including: Welder, Welder-Fitter, Fabricator, Structural Welder, Field Welder, Production Welder, Maintenance Welder, MIG Welder, Sub Arc Operator, Pipe Fitter, Steamfitter, Tig Welder, Millwright, and Certified Welder.4

According to the blog site www.alaskapipelinejobinfo.com, welders on Alaska’s North Slope can find work in a number of different areas including; drilling rigs, rig support services, camp maintenance, camp construction, pipeline installation, pipeline maintenance, heavy duty vehicle maintenance and specialty welding.5

At this time, VRAP assistance is limited to 54,000 participants so interested veterans who meet the criteria should inquire soon.2 For more information on VRAP and applying for benefits, visit the Veterans Affairs website, (http://benefits.va.gov/vow/education.htm) or contact the school you wish to attend to see if they offer approved programs.


1 US Department of Labor, CareerOneStop website, Occupation profile: Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=514121&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=02&search=Go
2 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, VRAP, High Demand Occupations, http://benefits.va.gov/vow/docs/VRAP_High_Demand.pdf
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011 wage data and 2010-2020 employment projections, Summary report for Welders, Cutters and Welder Fitters, webiste. http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/51-4121.06
4 indeed.com job search site, search for “welding jobs”. Nov. 15, 2012
5 alaskapipelinejobinfo.com, blog about working n the North Slope, Alaskan Welding Jobs on the North Slope. http://www.alaskapipelinejobinfo.com/welding-jobs.html


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