As a welder, your opportunities are endless. Work in the field or start your own business in a prosperous and lucrative trade that can take you wherever you want to go. Welders join or sever metals in beams, girders, vessels, piping and other metal components and make metal parts used in construction and manufacturing plants, and weld parts, tools, machines and equipment.
About this Program
Apprenticeship is a great way to develop employable skills while working and earning a paycheck. In fact, apprentices are required to find a job before they go to school.
On the job, you’ll typically work under the direction of a journeyman who provides instruction as you gain experience. Your college study periods are short, usually about two months long, allowing you to build theoretical knowledge and more advanced practical skills. Apprenticeship programs require you to attend college once a year for three or four years.
Welding usually involves applying heat to metal pieces to melt and fuse them together. In electric arc welding, heat is created as an electric current flows through an arc between the tip of the welding electrode and the metal. In gas welding, such as oxy-acetylene welding, the flame from the combustion of burning gases melts the metal. In both arc and gas welding, filler materials are melted and added to fill the joint and make it stronger than the base metal. In resistance welding, the metal piece itself is melted as current flows through it, and no filler is added.
As a welder you will work in a wide variety of environments. You may work outdoors on construction sites or indoors in production and repair shops. Travel may be required on jobs such as oilfield-related welding. A 40-hour work week is normal, but overtime is sometimes required.
Apprentices who have completed their training at Medicine Hat College say our small class sizes and knowledgeable instructors were the key to their success. Smaller classes allow for more one on one instruction, so that you will receive personal attention and get extra help when you want it. Our instructors are qualified and our newly renovated space offers the most up-to-date technology in the industry. Past graduates of our program have been named the top apprentice in the province and gone on to start their own businesses.
Medicine Hat College offers all three years of technical training, which are completed in combination with on the job experience.
The first step to becoming an apprentice is finding a job in the trade you would like to study. This is like any other job search, except you are looking for an employer who is willing to hire you as an apprentice in a trade. Once you have found employment, you can complete the Apprenticeship Application and Contract. This will allow you to be accepted as an apprentice tradesperson. Access the form at www.tradesecrets.alberta.ca.
After your application has been accepted, you will begin training with your employer and are now eligible to register for training at Medicine Hat College. You will then be sent an information package from the college on how to proceed with your registration.
You and your employer will sign a contract. Before signing the contract, read it carefully to know your obligations and responsibilities and those of your employer. Once signed, the contract must be delivered to Apprenticeship and Industry Training. An identification card, course outline booklet and, for most trades, an apprenticeship record book are issued to you. At this point, your apprenticeship training begins.
Attending Technical Training Classes
A notice to attend technical training will be sent about two months before classes begin. Class schedules are posted at www.tradesecrets.alberta.ca. Registration for your technical training must be arranged through Medicine Hat College in the appropriate trades program.
Course ListTrades students register for technical training courses through tradesecrets.alberta.ca.
Welders are employed in a variety of industries including vessel or structural steel assembly, pipeline construction, commercial construction, industrial construction, steel fabrication and heavy equipment repair. Employment prospects for welders change with seasonal and economic climates.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $25 to $40 an hour plus benefits.
Experienced welders may advance to positions such as welding inspector, welding foreman or supervisor, or plant supervisor. Some open their own repair shops, or work as portable rig welders who contract out their services.
What is your education going to cost?
Our TUITION and FEES page provides a total cost estimate for your program including books and supplies and related expenses.
Looking for ways to help fund your education?
There are lots of options like student loans, scholarships, bursaries and emergency funding available.
Check out our FINANCIAL AID page for more information.
Many programs offered at Medicine Hat College qualify for transfer credits to other institutions. In some cases, you must transfer to another institution to complete your program and gain your credential.
At MHC, we care about students and want to help you succeed.
As a student, there may be times when you require support. Our SERVICES page provides you with links to a number of campus supports including academic success, counselling and care, health and wellness, and many other resources.
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Enhance your education, share in cultural diversity and embrace new experiences. Visit the INTERNATIONAL MOBILITY PROGRAM section to find out more.
You will be awarded an Alberta Completion of Apprenticeship Certificate when you successfully complete all requirements of your apprenticeship contract. In addition to and depending on the trade, you will receive a Journeyman certification.
Trades eligible for an Interprovincial Red Seal Certificate have an additional exam to write and upon successful completion of the exam, the seal is affixed to the Journeyman certificate when issued.
In the province of Alberta, there are two kinds of regulated trades.
- Compulsory Certification Must be either a journeyman or apprentice to work in the trade as legislated under the Alberta Industry and Training Act.
- Optional Certification Trades training is offered but optional.
You must write an Apprenticeship and Trade Certification exam at the end of each technical training class. The passing mark is 70%. If you do not pass, you may be offered an apprenticeship supplemental exam. You must take the course again if you do not pass the supplemental exam.
To progress from one training period to the next and get a wage increase, you must
- pass the apprenticeship exam.
- receive an acceptable mark in the course.
- obtain the required number of hours of work experience.
- receive a satisfactory report from your employer.