Peninsula College welding instructor Eoin Doherty likes to tell his students, “Welding is like a tree, with its branches going off in many different directions.”
As his former students are finding out, Doherty is right: Marc Bozarth of Sequim and two other P.C. welding alums — Greg Welever and Rick Revette of Port Angeles — recently came back to visit the welding classroom and meet with current students.
Each has a job in a different industry, but all are using the welding expertise they learned in the Peninsula College welding classroom.
Bozarth graduated from the P.C. welding program in June and is now a welding instructor in the Kent training center of the Pacific Northwest Council.
“It’s unbelievable the way things worked out,” Bozarth said. “About two weeks after graduation, I received a phone call from the training and education director for the council. He asked if I was interested in CWI school and of course, my response was yes. Then, at the end of August, he called again and told me the welding instructor at the Kent training center was retiring and asked if I would be interested in the job. Again, my response was yes,” Bozarth said.
“I started as an instructor Sept. 16 and I can’t believe how much fun the job is,” he said.
“I am fortunate because the students are either journeyman or apprentices in the millwright, carpenter, pile driver, ship wright or diver trades. The workweek consists of four 10-hour days, with a three-day weekend, medical coverage, paid holidays and vacation and sick leave. It was all possible because of the welding program and everything I learned at Peninsula College. Having the AAS degree made the difference. Now, everything I learned is being passed on to those who come through the training center in Kent. If it weren’t for Peninsula College, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”
A former journeyman millwright and mechanic, Bozarth had worked in the paper industry for 30 years, first for Nippon and then for Crown Zellerbach in California before transferring to Port Angeles in 1980. He left the company in 1996 for a five-year stint at Carpenter’s International and the opportunity to be an organizing and research coordinator, but opted to come back to Port Angeles and Crown Zellerbach in 2001, finally retiring in 2009.
Looking to hone skills
When Bozarth made the decision to come to P.C. in 2011, he was 56 and looking to enhance his home shop and welding skills, but those plans soon changed as he got hooked on the program and the quality of the instructors, Doherty and Jeramie O’Dell.
Within just a few weeks, he decided to pursue his AAS degree and get as many certifications as he could during the two-year program. He knew anything he could add to his arsenal would make him more marketable.
“Peninsula College has a fantastic program, with a lot of opportunity,” Bozarth tells his students. “Take advantage of it, of the time you have, of the resources that are available and the instructors — they’ll really work for you.”
He also urges them to, “Find out your interests and then focus on certifications in those areas. Be serious, utilize your time wisely, and remember, two years go by pretty fast.”
For those who are concerned about the cost of getting the welding training they need, Bozarth noted that the jobs he had within four months of graduating from Peninsula College more than paid for the two years it took to earn his AAS degree.
“There’s a lot of work out there,” he said, advising young graduates to get involved with some kind of union job if possible.
“A union will take your training from here into account,” he said. “They know if you stay two years here, you’ll put in eight months or more somewhere else to get more training.”
Bozarth also wants the welding students to remember that welding is a skill, not a trade.
“The more you know, the better you are and the more you’ll work,” he said.
And he has a bit of good news for those currently in the welding program: “The greater Seattle area job market is picking up. (But) you can go anywhere in the country and go to work. There’s a shortage of 300,000 welders in the country right now — it’s an in-demand profession. And age isn’t a factor.”
Bozarth speaks from experience: He’s 58 and having the time of his life in a new profession.