Skip to main content

Workforce Wednesday: Joe Wisneski taps veterans benefits, One Workforce grant to discover new career in welding

May 25, 2022, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe Wisneski worked in a variety of factory positions.

“I got to a point where I just knew I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life,” he said.

That’s when he starting looking into the Job Training Automotive Technician program at GRCC. When that was full, Wisneski’s plan B was the Welding Technician program.

GRCC Workforce Training programs provide in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers. We are introducing students who are heading down an educational pathway and changing their lives by earning occupational certificates

“At first, I was a little nervous. The last time I was in school, I was 22-23 years old and fresh out of a war zone but everybody is pretty like-minded – no drama.”

Once Wisneski started welding, he was hooked.

“Almost the first day, first welds, I was like ‘Hey, I’m actually kind of good at this and it’s fun!'"

The GRCC Job Training Welding program takes place at the Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC and meets for 18 weeks for 34 hours per week. The program offers small class sizes, hands-on learning and job placement assistance.

“I’ve always liked doing stuff that is dangerous,” Wisneski said. “I don’t know why. There is definitely an element of danger in welding. I think you’ve got to be a little bit crazy to get into it.”

As a student, you will learn: shielded metal arc welding (arc/stick welding), gas metal arc welding (metal inert gas/wire welding), gas tungsten arc welding (heli-arc/tungsten inert gas welding), oxy-fuel welding (gas welding), cutting, brazing, blueprint reading, mathematics, metallurgy, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.

“When you weld two pieces together, you get that nice bead going, there is this sense of satisfaction that you get out of it,” Wisneski said. “It’s like a huge dopamine dump. It’s, dare I say, an addiction -- but a good addiction.”

Wisneski’s Instructor is GRCC’s Nate Haney. Haney holds a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology from Ferris State University and is an American Welding Society certified welding inspector and certified welding educator.

Wisneski believes that as far as knowledge and experience goes, Nate is unmatched.

“Honestly, if Nate wasn’t my instructor, I don’t know that I would have done so well. Now the competitive side of me has come out. I want to get through fast, and better than everyone else.”

Wisneski will complete the program this week and is considering welding jobs out-of-state. He is happy with the training he has received. He has experienced a new kind of accomplishment.

“Last week I made my wife a jewelry box. I drew it up on a sheet of paper and made it. I’m not used to having the design in my head, making something and having it come out so perfectly.”

This program is highly regarded by employers as a top trainer in welding and fabrication. Job Developers are ready to help you with the job search process. When you graduate, you will be ready to begin a career as a welder, cutter or brazer – with the skills to meet the needs of not only local companies but national companies as well.

Wisneski’s tuition was paid for through his VA Benefits. Additional support was provided by the One Workforce grant. According to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, there will be 34.7% job growth in welding from 2012 to 2022.

The next section of Job Training programs begins, Aug. 8, 2022. For more information: or (616) 234-3800.