North Island College welding student April Hamelin never thought she’d end up working as a welder, but just one year out of high school she’s already on her way to her Red Seal designation.
“It was never something I thought about as a career, but it was always something I thought was interesting,” said Hamelin, who began studying welding at Alberni District Secondary School through the ACE-IT program (now called Youth Train in Trades).
“I tried the program just to see if I’d like it and it ended up being one of the best years of my life so far. I enjoyed the people I was around and I liked the projects, so I decided to keep going with it.”
Hamelin graduated high school last year and is now studying welding at NIC’s Port Alberni campus.
It was a similar story for NIC welding student Harrison Bradley.
“I started in high school and picked welding for my work experience and fell in love with it,” said Bradley. “I love building something and being able to stand back and look at it.”
Ivan Peterson, NIC welding instructor, had a similar experience when he discovered the trade. “I got interested in my teens and there was just something about it,” said Peterson. “I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
It’s that passion for the trade that energizes Peterson in the classroom and in the shop.
“It’s really about the students,” he said. “They come in energized and ready to learn. To watch them develop their skills through the program and realize their potential – it’s inspiring.”
The set-up at NIC’s Port Alberni campus also helps with that student connection. “We have top-of-the-line equipment for the students to work on,” noted Peterson. “We have smaller class sizes, which means more one-on-one time with the instructor, which is important as you’re developing new skills.”
Students are often surprised about where the trade can lead, said Peterson. “There’s so many career paths you can go with it,” said Peterson. “Welding inspector, welding planner, estimator, business owner, you can go on and become an engineer. I also encourage students to think about artistic work. Once you’ve got the foundation portion and have a solid background on welding, you can go and expand on it.”
Variety is also the key word when it comes to jobs in welding. “There’s everything from large infrastructure projects to small things, like ramps or docks to artistic work,” said Peterson. “It’s a skill that you can use in almost any way you can imagine. You can really make it your own.”
Peterson, Hamelin and Bradley would encourage anyone interested in welding to try it out. “If you’re at all interested, give it a try,” said Hamelin. “You’ll know whether it’s for you and if it is, you’ll love it.”
NIC’s welding program runs in both Port Alberni and Campbell River, beginning in September.
Find out more: https://www.nic.bc.ca/trades or call 1-800-715-0914.