(ABILENE, Texas) – Tatum McFarland is striving to become the best welder she can by watching and learning from everyone.
McFarland, of Abilene, is studying for a certificate of completion in Welding Technology at Texas State Technical College with the hope of starting a career. Her venture into welding is nothing new for her, but she wants to make sure that she is prepared.
“One of my mom’s former husbands is a welder, and he got me interested in the trade,” she said. “I did some welding at Wylie High School and decided to learn more.”
McFarland is not deterred by the fact that she is one of the few women in her class. She hopes to see more women join the trade.
“I would like to see other women in the industry, especially since it is a stable one,” she said.
While in the lab completing projects, McFarland works hard to perfect each one. She has put in extra time working on her vertical welding techniques, something she said was difficult to master.
“I have worked hard to make sure the vertical welding is done the best I can,” she said. “I have learned some of the techniques I need to make sure the project is good.”
McFarland said that watching instructor Erik Barnes has been the best way to learn different techniques.
“I have watched him and how he works on a project,” she said. “I notice how he is holding the torch on certain things so the work is done correctly.”
Barnes said McFarland pays attention to each detail in order to complete projects.
“Her eagerness to learn is among the highest in the class,” Barnes said. “She is always volunteering to help during events and when other students need help. She is going to have a bright future in this profession.”
McFarland is not afraid of asking for assistance.
“I would love to have things done right the first time. But many of the angles we are welding are tedious,” she said. “If my first attempt does not look good, I will go and ask for help. Having that peer review is one of the best ways to complete the project.”
McFarland said she began looking for a welding school, including some outside of Texas, after high school. She said a family member steered her toward TSTC.
“My uncle went to TSTC and said it was a great experience,” she said. “I came and looked at the lab and was impressed with it. I knew this would be the best place for me.”
The future is an open book for McFarland, but she knows that having a certificate will open doors.
“I have not decided on what I would like to do yet,” she said. “I have a good job, and having the certificate will help me in the future.”
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, 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/.
April is National Welding Month, a celebration of welders in such industries as construction, automotive and manufacturing.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.