Special to the News Messenger
Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program will continue to teach in a hybrid format this fall. Students will listen to lectures online and participate in hands-on labs on campus.
“Welding is by far one of our most popular programs, and it’s easy to see why,” said Barton Day, provost at TSTC’s Marshall campus. “Employment opportunities remain strong. The starting pay is terrific. And let’s face it, it’s truly an art form. If you have a creative side, this might be right up your alley.”
The campus offers a structural welding certificate, and this fall it will debut a structural and pipe welding certificate.
“I think the advanced pipe course is going to make this one of the most productive semesters ever,” said Philip Miller, a TSTC Welding Technology program instructor. “I am excited to see our returning students take the skills they have learned to new levels.”
Monica Pfarr, executive director of the American Welding Society Foundation in Miami, said the skill sets in high demand in Texas are gas metal arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding. She said most welding jobs in Texas are in the architectural and structural metals manufacturing sector.
“We are doing all we can to promote the careers in the industry,” Pfarr said. “It’s not just welders, but also technicians, inspectors and engineers are in high demand. We are doing what we can to really change the perception of the occupation.”
There is a demand for workers to fill welding jobs in East Texas. Rush Harris, director of business services at the Marshall Economic Development Corp., said pipeline companies, manufacturers and small metal facilities need welders and millwrights.
“Employment for welders is relatively stable, with a slight overall decline of -0.3 percent yearly over the next 10 years,” Harris said. “The replacement of exits and transfers will be important to maintain an adequate welder demand in the labor force over the next 10 years.”
Harris said there is a need now for more than 200 welders within a 45-minute radius of Marshall. The average annual wage for welders in the area is at least $43,000, he said.
As of this writing, Indeed.com showed that Worley in Longview had job openings for a structural welder, a pipefitter and a pipefitter helper. The Australia-based company specializes in construction, engineering and procurement for the chemical, mining, minerals and power sectors.
“We continue to see growth in the demand for craft professionals,” said Carol Peters, Worley’s external communications and media manager. “However, qualified welders remain hard to find. Collaborative partnerships with academia, government, contractors and business owners are crucial in building a solid base of skilled workers for the future. The time to accelerate training is now.”
The company has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing the use of technology in its hiring process, improving communication processes with employees and their families, and using an online project-staffing system that publishes internal and external employment opportunities.
Texas had more than 50,000 workers earning an annual mean wage of more than $46,000 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Woodlands-Houston-Sugar Land area had the highest concentration of workers in the state with more than 18,000, while the Longview area had more than 1,000 workers.
Jobs for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers are projected to rise to more than 439,000 up to 2028, according to the labor bureau. This is attributed to repairs being made to the nation’s infrastructure and construction on pipelines and power generation facilities.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.