(BRECKENRIDGE) – One of Stephens County’s largest industries is oil and gas, and with that comes the need for qualified welders.
“There is always a lot of demand in the oil industry for welders and they pay well also,” said Virgil Moore, executive director of the Breckenridge Economic Development Corp. “There is always a shortage it seems like. Texas State Technical College fills that gap.”
And, there are plenty of jobs for TSTC’s Welding Technology graduates to consider.
The Abilene-Breckenridge area has more than 300 welding jobs open now, said Steve Collins, business and resource consultant at Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas in Abilene.
“There are so many welding jobs available right now that they can’t fill a lot of their positions,” he said.
Some jobs in welding in the Big Country do not involve oil and gas.
Southern Bleacher Co. in Graham has 35 welders among its 150 employees. The company produces bleachers, support structures, decking systems and coatings for school districts, universities, fairgrounds and event venues throughout the nation.
“We go through phases when a lot of people join the Southern Bleacher family, they do not leave,” said Sarah Lundgren, the company’s communications director. “Our turnover is pretty small.”
But, Lundgren said the company occasionally has hiring campaigns for welders. The company and TSTC have partnered together in the past.
“Our welders are not hired for specific jobs,” she said. “They work on all jobs. There are different welding areas of the shop and have different responsibilities.”
Stephen Hope, a TSTC Welding Technology instructor in Breckenridge, said students typically have jobs when they graduate. He said students have recently found work at ProFrac in Cisco and Tiger Manufacturing Co. in Abilene.
Jobs for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers nationwide are expected to grow to more than 427,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A majority of these jobs are expected to be in manufacturing.
TSTC in Breckenridge offers a three-semester structural welding certificate which includes classes teaching blueprint reading, fabrication, layout and technical calculations.
Registration for fall classes is ongoing right now. For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.