(ABILENE, Texas) – Eric Payne is no stranger to a welding torch.
Payne worked in civil engineering for the U.S. Air Force for eight years, performing structural maintenance. Knowing that he and his wife would be moving from Idaho to West Texas, he began looking at earning his welding certification.
That is where Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program came in, and now Payne is entering his third semester of studying for a certificate of completion in Structural Welding at the Abilene campus.
“I knew when I left the military I would want to earn my certification,” he said.
After looking at his options, TSTC stood out. Payne received assistance from Annette Collins, TSTC’s veterans program officer in Abilene.
“It was a big relief for me that Annette was able to help me so much,” he said. “It made the move for my wife and I smooth.”
Collins said helping Payne and all veterans who attend TSTC makes her feel good.
“I worked hard to make sure Eric had everything he needed to be ready to go to school,” she said. “He is such an outstanding person, and I know he will do well. It makes me happy to see our veterans succeed at TSTC following their service to our country.”
Payne has shown success in the lab, according to instructor Lei Barnes.
“Eric is a hard worker and always asks the right questions,” Barnes said. “He has done so much in his life, and it shows. He comes to the lab ready to work and to help others. He is going to be another one of our success stories.”
Payne said he has been able to pick up new welding techniques at TSTC, including learning the art of tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. TIG welding is an arc welding process that produces the weld with nonconsumable tungsten electrodes.
“It is a different style of welding,” he said. “I think I have a pretty good grasp of how to do it.”
Payne also admitted that he has been relearning some things.
“I have learned some different things I forgot about when I first started welding in the military 12 years ago,” he said. “It is good to learn the latest techniques and how to do things to be prepared for a job.”
Barnes said Payne will be a hard-working employee for one key reason.
“Eric knows he will be providing for his family, so he will be working at his best, no matter where he plans on going,” he said. “That determination will be a big asset for him and whoever he works for in the future.”
Payne said he wants to work in the construction field after he completes his certification. However, he does have a long-term plan in mind for his career.
“I want to have my own company one day, welding for people and doing the things they need done,” he said. “I want to be able to help people.”
According to onetonline.org, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $47,000 in Texas. These jobs were expected to increase 13% between 2018 and 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/.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.