NLC Welding Instructor Tricia McNab: You belong there as much as anybody

(NLC) – Northern Lakes College welding instructor, Tricia McNab, has come a long way since starting her welding journey. Full circle, in fact. Tricia is not only an employee of Northern Lakes College, but she is also an alumni.

Remembering that first day, Tricia was nervous when she started the Welder Apprenticeship program. As a young woman who’d had only one prior experience holding a welding torch, she worried she might not fit into the male-dominated industry.

“Showing up to that first day of class, I was intimidated, for sure,” remarked Tricia. “But then I realized that there were a couple other girls in the program. In fact, it turned out there were three of us ladies, and only two guys. I couldn’t believe we outnumbered them! That alone made me feel a little more confident.”

At the time, NLC’s Welder program was brand new at the Slave Lake Campus. “The teachers were really supportive,” noted Tricia. “They wanted you to succeed and put in extra effort to ensure you did. It was a great experience. It showed me how NLC really puts in the effort to help their students succeed.”

Tricia reports that it was difficult to break into the industry at first. “It wasn’t easy being the only woman in the field, working with men who didn’t expect you to be there. It was hard. Very hard. I worked my butt off so my employer and every guy I worked with knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I proved to everyone I was there to work.”

While Tricia believes the industry’s culture has become more welcoming to women in the almost 20 years since she entered it, her advice to other tradeswomen is to stay the course. “Don’t quit,” she advised. “If someone tries to knock you down or says you can’t do something, just put your head down and do the work. Show everyone you can do it. Just keep going. You belong there as much as anybody.”

Interested in a Trade? NLC offers Pre-Employment Trades and Apprenticeship Trades Programs. Get more information at


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