Welding skills in high demand - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Welding skills in high demand

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Great Falls - America's student loan debt has grown to astronomical numbers in recent years. The Federal Reserve Bank reports that debt amount as totaling more than $1 trillion right now. 

And Montana grads are also carrying quite a debt load as well. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, those graduating from 4-year-colleges in Montana owe An average of $27,000 in student loans. But one local two year college is offering an alternative to those who want to learn a skill set that college officials say is in high demand right now.

At Great Falls College MSU, sparks are flying and students like Jeffery Quick are hard at work molding material. 

"To do it well is definitely a skill," Quick said. 

And in the welding department, he's acquiring hands on skills. 

"it's not something everyone can do," Quick said. 

Right now, the two year college offers a one year welding certificate and starting this fall, students can also opt for a two year program

"Anything that shows you are qualified in something versus word of mouth is a big deal," Quick said. 

Joel Sims is the director of the welding program, and he says while students are enrolled in the program, they learn basic welding processes, which he says helps them find high demand jobs as entry level welders

"They take those skills and basically use them anywhere in the world," Sims said. 

Sims said as more welders retire, there's a need for these skilled workers to be replaced.

"So much of the skilled laborers are leaving and so we're getting a bigger gap all the time," Sims said. 
 
So to fill that gap, the college has expanded its welding department, with 34 welding booths, a mobile welding lab and a chance for students to weld without wasting material

The college has also added two virtual welders, which give students a chance to really work on their hand-eye coordination, and ey can use a tool on a  table and start working on their welding skills. 

For students who want to learn a skill set without going deep in debt, welding could be an option to consider. For  Jeffery Quick, his welding education is more than just a way to save money. To him, it's all about job security.

"(Welding) will always be needed, no matter what," Quick said. 

According to the college's website, the welding program's tuition is about $4400. As for the salary, Bureau of Labor stats say that the median wage for welders in Montana is $35,000. For more information, go here. 
 

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