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HARLINGEN — There is a new generation of motivated women who are gaining the hands-on technical skills to fill vacated welding jobs, and that is what led Haylee Whitt to Texas State Technical College.
Whitt, a native of California who now lives in Los Fresnos, has a career goal after she graduates from TSTC’s Harlingen campus.
“I would love to work at SpaceX,” she said. “It would be amazing to say I worked on a project that will go to space. I’m competitive and want to be the best at everything I do.”
According to the American Welding Society, women make up just 5% of the total welding workforce.
She developed a fascination for welding after watching videos on various social media platforms.
“While I watched those videos, it made me have thoughts like, ‘Am I supposed to do this for a living?’” she said. “My husband first introduced me to stick welding because he had a welding machine on his service truck. That made me want to learn more. I performed an online search for welding programs after we relocated for his new job. That’s how I found out about TSTC.”
In her first semester studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree, Whitt finds her program experience rewarding.
“If I notice something wrong about my weld, I will ask how to correct it,” she said. “It’s fascinating to see how the metals fuse together, including how nice the finished product looks. The instructors share tips and tricks on how we can improve thanks to their industry experience. I feel that my life is headed in the right direction because I found a future career that I’ll enjoy.”
Manuel Ahumada, TSTC’s Welding Technology instructor in Harlingen, said Whitt is self-motivated to become a quality welder.
“Haylee struggled with her welding techniques at first, but her skill level has increased,” he said. “I’m certain she will be a fantastic welder by the time she graduates.”
Ahumada said he has noticed that females studying the welding trade are as self-driven as their male counterparts.
“That passion brings more females to this industry, and an opportunity to earn a high-paying job,” he said.
According to onetonline.org, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers can earn a yearly median salary of more than $48,180 in Texas. These jobs were expected to increase in the state by 23% between 2020 and 2030, according to the website.
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, then they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information, visit tstc.edu/mbg.
Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is currently underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.