(SWEETWATER, Texas) – More welding torches are being used in the Welding Technology lab at Texas State Technical College’s Sweetwater campus.
Instructor Taylor Elston is excited to see 26 new students, including two women, beginning their journey to a career as a welder. Elston said the new group is the largest he has had in his four years of teaching at TSTC, and he is hoping it is a sign of things to come.
“A majority of the students are under the age of 20,” he said. “A few of them did some welding in high school, and about half have done stick welding.”
Elston said watching their development will be interesting to observe.
“We have a wide variety of skill levels, but everyone is doing a really good job since they got here,” he said. “They are all eager to learn. I was able to see that the first week we started.”
Elston also works with dual enrollment program students from Colorado and Sweetwater high schools. Four Sweetwater seniors and eight Colorado juniors are participating in the program.
“It is going well with the high school students. They are eager to get here and start welding,” he said. “It is good to have the dual enrollment program available.”
Elston said hosting the high school competition at TSTC in the spring helped as well. Two of the former competitors are now enrolled in Sweetwater. One of those, Brance Workman, of Coahoma, made his decision to attend TSTC prior to the event.
“I decided to compete in May because I knew I wanted to come here,” he said. “I talked to a lot of people about TSTC and only heard good things about the program and school.”
Unlike many younger welders, Workman said he does not want to be a journeyman.
“I want to do some work on the refineries,” he said of his home in Howard County. “I want to go back home and work close to my family.”
According to onetonline.org, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $45,000 in Texas. These jobs are expected to increase 13% by 2028 in the state, the highest percentage in the nation.
Workman sees the large group of welding students as a positive for everyone.
“We will not be isolated and will be able to help each other,” he said. “I know the instructors are going to make sure we know what is happening around us and our projects are being completed correctly.”
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/.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.