Running Start Welding student
Jun 21, 2023
Shelby Promoter

Three SHS Students Receive 1G Certification in Welding

By Thad White

The importance of and the need for skilled trades people has never been more evident since the beginning, and now the aftermath, of the recent pandemic. Additionally, with the Baby Boomer generation finalizing their steps into the golden years of retirement, there is a need for replacements. While technological jobs are more attractive to the current generation, there is still a need for trades that require good old-fashioned “elbow grease” to get the job done. 

A silent group of kids is yearning for this type of work, still walking the halls of our high schools. They often get overlooked in the chaos and monotony of traditional academic pathways, but they are there, and industry can’t get enough of them. 

Starting wages for skilled trades people are through the roof, and the opportunity to become an apprentice abounds.  

Shelby Public Schools offers a dual-credit welding program through the Flathead Valley Community College that harbors such kids. The sole purpose of the class is to give the kids as much “booth time” as possible while learning a skill and trade.

“The course is actually divided into two separate classes taught over two semesters,” explained Shelby High School teacher, Thad White. “The first class is WLDG111. This class covers the basics of Shielded Metal Arc Welding. The second semester’s class is WLDG185. This class prepares the kids for welding certifications implemented in May. The certifications, if passed, are recognized by the American Welding Society and thousands of employers around the US and Canada. The certification process is rigorous and typically takes a kid about eight hours to complete. Pass or fail; the entire experience is challenging but life-changing.” 

Recently, five students from Shelby traveled to FVCC in Kalispell to take their shot at the certification process. In particular, they all attempted their 1G certs; 1G is the name given to the flat position in the welding industry. At the end of the testing process, Kolby Davidson, Joryn Bunnell and Garret Hendrix received their 1G certification.  

“I am so proud of these kids for powering through and managing their nerves and skills,” said White. “The Certified Welding Inspectors don’t take it easy on the kids because they don’t want their names associated with shoddy work. The parameters of the test are ironclad and can’t be deviated from. Two kids who didn’t quite make the cut were permitted to finish the process. Their bend tests passed, but they failed one of the checkpoints along the way. It’s disappointing but a great lesson in itself.”        

Overall, the dual-credit welding program in Shelby is encouraging those kids that want to be involved in the trades. Whether or not they choose to be welders, the hands-on experiences will foster their interests.