(ABILENE, Texas) – Rider Duggan has always had an interest in building things.
In his hometown of Winters, Duggan used to visit a local shop where welding was a mainstay. That piqued his interest at a young age. Today, he is studying for a certificate of completion in Structural Welding at Texas State Technical College.
“I have always had an interest in building things from a very young age,” he said. “I picked up my first welding torch when I was in sixth grade and was hooked.”
Duggan said his father had welding equipment in his shop, but it was his time visiting a local man’s business that led to welding becoming his career.
“This gentleman had a shop in town, and I would always visit him,” he said. “It started with my sophomore year in high school. He let me loose on some things, but mostly I was self-taught when it comes to welding.”
Duggan said his time at TSTC has led him to experience more opportunities.
“I have been learning a lot during the year,” he said. “It is a different experience for me because I did not know some of the techniques I needed to use.”
Lea Barnes, a TSTC Welding Technology instructor, said Duggan has picked up on many techniques during his time in the lab.
“He definitely knows what he is doing when it comes to welding,” Barnes said. “He is always busy when he works on our projects.”
Duggan said mastering the different equipment has been not only the hardest part of the program, but also the most rewarding.
“It does take some time to get used to the technology being used in the workforce today,” he said. “But it is rewarding to know that I will be able to use different equipment when I get a job.”
In the TSTC lab, Duggan said the instructors’ experience is valuable to him. He added that he likes the teaching style used during class.
“It is good to be let loose in the lab to do the work,” he said. “We learn a lot of different things, but when we need help, the instructors are always there to show us the best way to complete the project.”
When he completes his studies at TSTC, Duggan plans to continue to work in his hometown.
“I have been doing a lot of work around Winters and plan to keep doing that for a while,” he said. “I hope to one day open my own business because I enjoy welding opportunities.”
According to onetonline.org, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $47,000 in Texas. Welding jobs were expected to increase 23% between 2020 and 2030 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 participating 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/.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.