(HUTTO, Texas) – Jessica Krause, of Round Rock, left her job as a pet groomer to enroll at Texas State Technical College in East Williamson County to study Welding Technology.
The first-semester student said she was not expecting such a fast pace of teaching. Besides adapting to new skills, Krause had not been in a learning environment for about 15 years.
“It’s fun,” she said. “I like welding and messing with things. I like putting metal together and it will stay together.”
Seven women, including Krause, are enrolled in TSTC’s Welding Technology program at the East Williamson County campus this semester. Three women teach in the program.
“We have the most (female students) now that we have had,” said Samara Flener, lead instructor in TSTC’s Welding Technology program at the East Williamson County campus. “There is a lot more visibility on social media with women stepping forward to show their skills and work to encourage other women to try it.”
Moira Gallegos, of Leander, was exposed to welding early on while working alongside her grandfather, who was a plumber. She knew when she was in high school that she wanted to find a career that had physical elements to it.
“Welding is a good option for anybody who does not want to sit down all day,” she said. “It’s really satisfying when you see what you weld and think, ‘I did that.’”
Gallegos said welding comes down to memorization.
“There are times when it gets slow when I am figuring something out,” she said. “I push through those harder moments.”
Gallegos and Krause both hope to do internships while at TSTC. While Gallegos wants to work with tungsten inert gas welding, Krause said she is still deciding what welding processes she prefers.
Zippia.com, a career expert website, estimates that only 7.5% of welders in the United States are women.
“It takes a lot of tenacity and determination for everyone to do it,” Flener said. “It is a learning process, and a lot of people struggle with that. It takes dogged determination, along with patience.”
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology and certificates of completion in Structural Welding and in Structural and Pipe Welding at the East Williamson County campus.
The Welding Technology program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee. Students in their first semester are eligible to sign up for free with campus Career Services representatives. Students are able to take part in workshops in which they learn about resume writing, interview techniques and other employment skills. Students who are not hired in their field within six months after graduation may be eligible to get a tuition refund for their time at TSTC.
During the month of March, TSTC is honoring women in history and on its campuses who work to make strides in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields every day.
For more information, go to tstc.edu.