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Senior looks to a future in welding

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | June 2, 2021 6:05 AM

Someday you might be hiring Cole Karlin to build your house, or maybe even, your next big bridge. The Columbia Falls senior is a talented welder and could see himself owning his own construction company.

Becoming a good welder is no small task.

“It’s a serious thing if you get into the different processes,” Karlin said in a recent interview.

One of the keys?

Watch your puddle.

The puddle is the molten weld that binds the metals together, he explained.

“It’s your guidepoint,” he said.

Karlin has been welding since he was a freshman in high school, but he said he really didn’t get good at it until his senior year. This year he went to school half days and had an internship at Acutech, a local metal fabrication shop, the rest of the day.

Karlin was one of the first at Columbia Falls to graduate from the school’s Welding Technology program; a collaborative project between the high school and the Running Start program at Flathead

Valley Community College.

He’s certified in a host of welding levels, including three certifications that one doesn’t normally see from an 18-year-old, including certification in 3G mig welding as well as several others. He said there’s plenty more to learn.

“I’d like to see how far I can get with my welding,” he said.

Karlin picked a good profession to start out in. Welders start at more than $20 an hour and go up from there, and with the Baby Boomer generation retiring, demand for skilled trades like welding is expected to be on the rise.

Karlin’s goals are simple.

“I’d like to have my own shop, have my own company,” he said. His older brothers, Zak and Gage also work in the trades and he said someday they might start their own company.

But Karlin said he plans on going to Flathead Valley Community College in the fall to further hone his welding skills and further his education.

When he’s not welding he enjoys hunting and fishing and playing sports. He was an offensive lineman for the football team.

His advice to welders?

“Take as many as classes as you can,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to fail.” Karlin will join more than 140 classmates this Saturday for graduation ceremonies at the high school at 11 a.m.