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Associate Degree pathway added to RCC’s Welding program

Starting this August, you can earn an associate’s degree in Welding Technology at Robeson Community College. The addition of the degree program complements the credentials already currently available – a diploma, certificate, and short-term training.

“Education is important,” stated James Thomas, the program director of welding. “These classes give you more actual experience in a controlled environment where you learn how to weld and the process of welding. The theory knowledge contained within the degree will help out immensely and is equally as important”

The degree program will feature classes in fabrication, metallurgy, certification practices, and automated welding. Thomas says earning a degree will open up more doors for students, especially if they opt to become a certified welding inspector, or CWI, which will afford them opportunities to compete for higher-paying jobs in the industry.

Thomas says that the CWI is an internationally recognized credential that is highly sought after.

“With becoming certified, it takes so much experience, and education plays into that experience level, so getting the degree helps out,” Thomas said. “And let’s say you come here and you got a diploma or certificate, by earning an associate degree, you can always come back and teach, and it will open up that door towards going to a four-year school.”

With new classes, comes new equipment.

“We are getting a robotic welder in, coming from Lincoln Welders, it’s a cobalt,” stated Thomas. “It should be here in the spring, I don’t know all the capabilities of it yet, but we are gearing it up to be like what you would see in the automotive industry.”

The teachers aren’t the only ones excited about the new programs, students like Michael Locklear can’t wait for August to arrive. Locklear will start working towards his associate degree in the fall.

“Down the road, if I decide to, I can come back and become a teacher or if I got tired of being out in the field, I can get my CWI, and inspect weld jobs after people get done,” Locklear said. “I would love to go out in the field, so I can learn and be like a sponge and take in everything I can take in, and go with it, shoot for the stars, and see how much money I can make.”

Locklear says he’s already got jobs lined up waiting for him.

Michael Locklear gets ready to start welding on the first day of summer classes at Robeson Community College

“There’s a sanitary job I can get on after I finish school, they said I’d be starting out at $32 per hour, with $165 per day per diem,” Locklear stated. “It is an out-of-town job, there’s a bunch of local jobs too, you just got to find them.”

Sanitary welding Locklear tells us is “pretty clean welding, it’s TIG… it’s stainless pipes that food and medicine can go in and go through.”

“I’ve always been fascinated with welding, I always seemed to like it, so figured I would give it a try,” Locklear said. “RCC is a pretty good school…they will teach it to you so you can learn, so everybody can learn it, you just got to put your mind to it and get in the booth every day and put the work in.”

If you are interested in learning more about the welding program at Robeson Community College, please contact James Thomas at or 910-272-3474, or you can check us out on the web at










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