Breckenridge Texan

TSTC program helps fill area’s welding job openings

TSTC program helps fill area’s welding job openings
July 26
08:29 2018

The Abilene-Breckenridge area has more than 300 welding jobs open now, according to Steve Collins, business and resource consultant at Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas in Abilene, and the demand for welders is expected to increase over the next eight years.

“There are so many welding jobs available right now that they can’t fill a lot of their positions,” Collins said.

Jobs for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers nationwide are expected to grow to more than 427,000 by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A majority of the jobs are expected to be in manufacturing.

Additionally, according to the BLS, the nation’s aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings. Also, the construction of new power generation facilities and, specifically, pipelines transporting natural gas and oil may result in new jobs.

In Stephens County, the need for qualified welders often comes from oil and gas, one of the area’s largest industries.

“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.”

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, a manufacturer of transport tankers.

Not all welding jobs in the area are related to the oil and gas industry, though.

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.

Although Southern Bleacher’s turnover rate is relatively low, Sarah Lundgren, the company’s communications director, 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,” Lundgren said. “They work on all jobs. There are different welding areas of the shop and have different responsibilities.”

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


Story provided by Texas State Technical College

Cutline, top photo: Students in a Texas State Technical College welding class recently work on a project. (Photo courtesy of TSTC)

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