(ABILENE, Texas) – Luis Chavira admits that he did not have much welding experience when he began Welding Technology classes at Texas State Technical College.

Chavira had not taken welding classes at ATEMS High School in Abilene, but he wanted to learn the trade to save money for a second career.

“I want to work in welding for a few years so I can return to school and study engineering,” he said. “I have time to figure that out while I learn more about welding techniques.”

While in high school, Chavira was part of the engineering program and enjoyed what he learned. He dabbled in some welding projects on the family ranch.

“I live down the road from TSTC and started with little experience,” he said. “I knew just enough about welding to get by. Looking back at some of the work I did, it was not great. TSTC is making me a better welder.”

TSTC welding instructor Dillon Burton has seen Chavira’s improvement since his first project.

“He is one of our hardest-working students in class. He gets in here and goes to work,” he said. “I like his mentality as a student. He is not one that will be ‘one and done’ with a project. He is going to do it several times to make sure he has done it correctly.”

Over time, Chavira has learned many different welding techniques, including the tungsten inert gas (TIG) method and overhead welding.

“I saw a lot of TIG welding online, but it was more fun to learn in class,” he said. “It was difficult at first for me. Like anything, it was a matter of getting to know the process.”

As for his overhead welding technique, Chavira has seen himself improve with each project.

“I have noticed how much I have improved,” he said. “The best part about the program is I can come to the lab and get to welding.”

Chavira is currently studying for a certificate of completion in Structural Welding, with plans to return for an Associate of Applied Science degree. He made the decision early to work on an associate degree because he enjoys the environment of the lab sessions.

“The instructors are great to work with because they know we can come here in the morning and then go to work in the afternoon,” he said.

Chavira said he will have job opportunities, especially after talking to potential employers during TSTC’s recent industry job fair.

“I talked to some of the employers at the job fair knowing it could lead to work,” he said. “This is the reason I decided to come to school here. TSTC is a great place to learn, and everyone works with you to get the career started.”

According to onetonline.org, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $47,000 in Texas. These jobs are expected to increase 13% by 2028 in the state, according to the website.

TSTC offers Welding Technology at each of its 10 campuses located throughout Texas.

Welding Technology is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to welding students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field within six months of graduation, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit https://www.tstc.edu/admissions/tuition/.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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