Dual Achievement Program at CGTC Helps Monroe County Student Land $50K Welding Job

March 22, 2024

Warner Robins, Ga. – While the ink still dries on her diploma from the Dual Achievement Program (DAP) at the Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) Academy, Emily Betsill of Monroe County has landed a job offer unheard of by most teenagers. Emily Betsill stands in welding lab.

Earning above the average Georgia welders’ salary of $15 per hour sounds good for any qualified person out of college, but for the 18-year-old who just received her high school diploma and Welding and Joining certifications in December from CGTC’s Dual Achievement Program, accepting a well-paying job at this age is life-changing. 

“I’m excited to start my career,” said Betsill, “You can start [in DAP] at a young age. I started when I was 17 and I will walk in CGTC’s graduation this May at 18 years old and I am already going to have my first job that pays really good.” 

Betsill said putting her welding skills to work at a local manufacturer offering a competitive salary just felt like the mature next step for her. She was able to fast-track her path to a high school diploma through DAP at the CGTC Academy and earned two college credentials while doing so. Her hard work paid off when she landed her job in the high-demand field of welding. 

Betsill’s enrollment into the program came after a suggestion by a family friend, Forsyth Mayor Eric Wilson, who is also vice chair of CGTC’s Board of Directors. Wilson, an advocate for technical education, sang the praises of DAP to Betsill’s parents as a method to reinvigorate Betsill on her educational path. 

Like many entry points at the College, DAP can be a springboard to career success in a short amount of time. 

The CGTC Academy, a COGNIA-accredited high school, is home to DAP. This burgeoning high school option was piloted in 2021 by a five of colleges within the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), including CGTC. The State of Georgia initiative gives students ages 16-21 an option to earn an accredited Georgia high school diploma through dual credit programming at a high school program housed in a technical college. 

Students can transfer into the program after completing at least 6 core units of credit out of the 9 required units of credit required to complete 9th and 10th grade at a traditional high school. To complete and earn the high school diploma, students must finish either two technical certificates of credit, a college program diploma, or an associate degree and finalize any remaining high school credits needed to complete a total of nine units through the CGTC Academy. 

Betsill said it may be true that some people in older generations maintain an opinion that she and her peers may be averse to hard work. She said it is more likely that high school students are tired of being forced into traditional methods of education and fear being “stuck” in the same stagnant environments. 

“It [DAP] was different from high school, and I loved that about the program,” Betsill said, adding that the diversity of ages of students in her welding class offered more maturity and the energy of it all pushed her to get into her career a little faster. 

“We look forward to supporting students like Emily who come to us searching for an alternative structure to high school,” said CGTC’s Executive Director and Principal for the Dual Achievement 

Program Lakeitha Gordon. “Now more than ever, young people are motivated by newer methods to success, and are comfortable embracing out-of-the-norm pathways.” 

Now, Betsill looks up to students slightly older than her as examples of what can come of her life with a career in welding starting at an early age. 

“Honestly, I have no clue how to handle it,” Betsill said, of how to process big career moves and financial success at an early age. “It’s a lot to handle at 18 years old to realize that I’m going to be making a lot of money.” 

In May, Betsill will join over 100 students to walk and receive a Dual Achievement Pathway high school diploma as a part of the College’s commencement ceremony. The DAP program is enrolling now. To find out more about the CGTC Academy and DAP, visit, https://www.centralgatech.edu/academics/cgtc-academy/dual-achievement-program.