A welding student in a tan shirt and welding mask cuts a pipe to the appropriate length

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Imagine a world where all structures are at risk of collapsing at any second. Buildings creak with every step, a slight gust of wind could knock down a bridge, and airplanes and space exploration are nothing but fantasy. 

Luckily, the world is a much more secure place — thanks to welders.

“We’ve got to have welders,” said Asa Goolsbee, a Welding Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus. “Structures don’t just go together with glue. Welders are the ones that put it all together.”

TSTC offers its Welding Technology program at all 10 campuses across the state of Texas. At TSTC’s Marshall campus, three certificates of completion in welding are offered: Structural Welding, Welding Advanced Pipe Specialization, and Welding Technology – Welding Processes.

TSTC student Kaden McFaul originally planned to get his degree in engineering but is grateful to have chosen TSTC’s welding program instead.

“I figured it’s a lot cheaper to do welding but makes almost as much money,” McFaul said. “I didn’t really like what (other colleges) had to say about their welding programs, plus I couldn’t get in contact with anybody. Here they responded relatively quickly.”

TSTC’s welding instructors at the Marshall campus bring years of practical work experience to their classes. For example, welding instructor Philip Miller graduated from TSTC’s welding program and gained between five to six years of experience in pressure vessels before returning to TSTC to teach. Meanwhile, Goolsbee — who is also an alumnus of the program — traveled all over the United States for his previous welding career before becoming an instructor and settling down in Texas with his wife and son.

TSTC student Randy Merida got his start in welding at age 12, discovering and honing his skills at his uncle’s welding business. Not having made a clear decision on where he wanted to go to college, Merida took the advice of two of his friends — who are students in TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology program — and chose TSTC.

“I don’t regret one bit of it,” Merida said of his decision. “With how good this school is, I know that there’s a lot of opportunities out there, so (I want to) just seize the biggest opportunity I can get.”

Goolsbee and Miller take great pride in the job opportunities awaiting their students after graduation, and Texas is one of the top states in which to find welding positions. The instructors have seen their students find work in the pipeline industry, at nuclear power plants, building tanks for the military, and much more.

“We try to have the students stay away from the simple jobs making less than $18 an hour,” Miller said. “We try to get them jobs doing everything. I think (this program) is probably one of the best things for a student to enroll in at our campus. You’re never going to lack for a job. It’s always reliable work.”

According to onetonline.org, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers earn an average salary of $48,180 per year in Texas, where the number of such jobs was estimated to increase by 23% between 2020 and 2030. 

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, visit tstc.edu/mbg.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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