MCTC Welding Program: Professional Careers Through Personal Experience

"I always knew education was important, but I truly realized this when I lost my job and did not have an education." These are the words of Jeff Gilkerson, a Flemingsburg native and recent graduate of the Welding program on Maysville Community and Technical Colleges (MCTC) Rowan Campus. Three years ago, after working his way up to the position of general manager at a Chrysler dealership, Jeff was left without a job and only a high school education.

I'm Dean Howard, coordinator and co-instructor of the Welding program on the Rowan Campus. I have worked and travelled as a pipefitter/welder throughout the majority of the United States for more than 30 years. Students enter our program both with and without welding skills. Once you are accepted in the program, we will train anyone who wants to learn.

Many of our students find work within the surrounding region companies such as Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company, Pentair Technical Products, Riverside Plastics, and Toyo Seat. Jeff was one of those students. He found a job before he had even finished his Welding degree.

"I was promoted to second supervisor in less than seven months after I started my job," says Jeff, "and I'm making a lot more money now. I started college at 47, so it was overwhelming at first. But, it doesn't matter how old you are or what your education level was before. Two years can affect the rest of your life."

Some of our students have been working the welding field and want to update and expand their skills. We offer classes in three shifts. Student can choose to be enrolled full time during the day shifts or complete all of their classes in the evening. Our program trains students in Arc, MIG, and TIG welding processes. Students also learn how to use a computerized orbital welder and read blueprints.

Ryan Himes of is one of our students from Lewis County.

"I became a certified welder in this program," says Ryan. "While I was a student, a local contracting company called MCTC to hire students for a construction project. We welded beams for the new liquor store at Wal-Mart. Anyone interested should definitely try this program. There's a high demand for workers."

Our program also offers a Pipeline Welder Certification, which can lead to apprenticeships as pipefitters, welders, and boilermakers. One of the best things about this program is that our students have a chance to get high paying jobs depending on where they are willing to work. Some of our students are making six- figure salaries.

If you are like Jeff or Ryan, or would just like more information about the Welding program, you can reach me at 606-783-1538 extension 66347 or at deanb.howard@kctcs.edu. You can also contact Nicholas Pecco at 606-783-1538 extension 66348, or email him at nick.pecco@kctcs.edu.