Man in brown shirt talking to man in blue shirt surrounded by several people

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology students recently learned about the current demand for welders in West Texas.

Three industry officials discussed the latest trends and needs of their businesses with students during a panel discussion hosted by TSTC’S Career Services department. The officials were Mark McCarty with Gem Equipment of Oregon Inc., Stormy Mishnick with E-Z Pack Bridgeport, and Brandon Thompson with Pal-Con Ltd.

“This was a way for TSTC to show our students the needs in the fields they are currently studying with the people who are in that industry,” said Erin Wilhite, TSTC’s Career Services director at the Abilene campus.

The three TSTC industry partners agreed that there is a need for qualified welders around the state and nation.

“We do not have skilled welders walking through our doors,” Mishnick said. “(TSTC students) are already way ahead of the curve when (they) come and apply for a job.”

Thompson said his company, which is located in Stephenville, seeks welders who exhibit professionalism.

“We are looking for someone who will be on time. We want someone who will be a leader and pay attention to what is going on around them,” he said. “Those are good skills to have as a welder.”

McCarty agreed that it takes someone with initiative to succeed.

“You will be able to do a lot in this field if you put in the effort,” he said.

Thompson added that no one should be afraid to ask questions of their co-workers.

“You are only going to get better when you ask questions,” he said. “You want to have work done correctly the first time so you do not have to go back and redo anything.”

In addition to discussing their companies, the industry leaders talked about benefits, the application process, and types of welding tests that applicants will take during the interview process.

When the topic of salary ranges was discussed, Mishnick said TSTC has produced several supervisors for his company, which is based in Breckenridge.

“I would say 10% of my staff are TSTC graduates from the Breckenridge campus,” he said. “Many of those students have worked their way up to management roles because of what they have shown at the shop. That goes back to what is being taught at TSTC.”

According to, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $48,000 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. It 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

For more information about TSTC, visit

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