With welders in hot demand and state-certified welders an even greater need, eight Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School (CTE) students recently completed the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) certification exam at CTE.
As BOCES welding teacher Mike Toich and a New York State examiner looked on, the adult students welded, ground metal and used wire brush to perfect their work during the July 9 exam.
Those who pass the certification will gain the credentials necessary to work on DOT projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge project. Working on state projects allows students to earn lucrative pay.
Typically, Toich said, only one-third of test-takers statewide pass the certification test and only 10 percent do so on the first attempt.
"Its a very difficult test. One that requires a significant amount of skill," said Toich.
To pass, the students welding work is passed through an X-ray test, also known as the radio-graph, in which examiners look for any discontinuity in the welded metal such as slag inclusions, porosity, or any other voids, Toich said.
Within the five-inch test specimen examined, the radiographer takes the best three inches, and it cannot have a discontinuity greater than 1/32 of an inch, otherwise it fails, he added.
The adult students taking the exam last week included many former Capital Region BOCES CTE high school welding students, such as a 2012 Guilderland graduate and a 2010 Berne-Knox-Westerlo graduate.
Capital Region BOCES is a test site for the certification, offering the DOT certification exam on a near-monthly basis.
News accounts from earlier this year cite a shortage of certified welders to construct the multi-billion dollar bridge, forcing the contractor to turn to robotic welders in Louisiana. Nationally, labor tracking websites indicate there is a shortage of skilled welders to complete construction, manufacturing and other jobs.
The New York State DOT certification is one of several certifications the Capital Region BOCES CTE school offers through its adult education Welder Certification Training Program, as well as Career and Tech Education offerings for students from schools across the region. For more information on the programs, call 518-862-4707.