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Central Texas students learning skills to better prepare them for careers in plumbing, other trades

Posted: 3:12 PM, Mar 29, 2024
Updated: 2024-03-29 16:12:11-04
Rony Cuellar

WACO, Texas — Learning how to drive heavy equipment is helping drive career paths for local students.

Earlier in the week, 25 News shared with you the need for welders in Central Texas.

Now, we're showing you how local students are getting the job skills needed to be your next plumber.

This was Rony Cuellar’s first time operating a large piece of equipment.

"I was really nervous about it but I ended up getting the hang of it and well it’s slowly starting to become second nature," Cuellar said.

All together, he was one of thirty to fifty combined Texas State Technical College students and Belton High School students that learned how to operate, inspect and safely get comfortable with heavy pieces of equipment like excavators.

This was during the second annual Heavy Equipment Rodeo at TSTC.

That's all good, because this 19-year-old TSTC freshman is looking to put those skills to work as he plans to pursue a career in the plumbing industry.

“I just kind of found it interesting, and the fact that it’s one of the most important jobs in America," Cuellar said.

"Everyone needs a plumber, and the fact that it’s on a slow decline, it just kinda motivates me more to learn the best I can," Cuellar said.

There may even be a job waiting for him after school.

Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects more than 42,000 openings for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters each year, on average, over the decade due to instances like people retiring or moving to other jobs.

BLS also says plumbers, on average, make $28.89 an hour.

That’s almost four times the nation’s minimum wage of $7.25.

All this digging is not only helping TSTC students, but Belton High School students figure out their career paths.

“Belton Construction Careers — it’s not your typical classroom," said Michael Carrillo, Instructor for Belton Construction Careers.

"We are doing industry-based certifications which transfers from the high school to the college level."

Also, thanks to a strong partnerships between schools like Belton High School and TSTC, that pipeline helps students further their careers.

TSTC plumbing instructor Tony Montoya told me "The some of the plumbing instructors here have really great connections with the surrounding plumbing companies," said TSTC plumbing instructor, Tony Montoya.

"We’re able to create a pipeline for these guys to go directly to those companies and start work.”

The rodeo was a three day event that wrapped on Friday.