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Welders needed in Central Texas as many certified workers head to bigger cities and coasts for work

Posted at 5:03 PM, Mar 25, 2024

WACO, Texas — Travis Hill has been a welder for 18 years, and says that pay really navigated his career for a long time.

"Almost exclusively for most of my career especially as a young man, was all pay," Hill said.

He’s a manufacturing lead and an in-house certified welder at Texas Welding Company in Waco.

He’s happy to be working close to home.

“I’m married, I have a young son that’s very active in a bunch of different activities," he said.

The company has around 15-20 employees.

Staff says they are growing and plan to have 25-30 employees by the end of the summer — they currently have four positions open now.

While Hill may be more established in his career, Texas State Technical College staff told me many of their graduates in welding head to larger cities in Texas and the coast for better opportunities and to make more money.

In 2023, TSTC had 191 graduates from their Welding Technology program. that's the highest number since before the pandemic in 2019 at 192 graduates.

“I would say probably close to 60-75 percent of our graduates will migrate that way," said Austin Allen — the program team lead.

Hill and other Texas Welding Company employees were very knowledgeable about their industry, and say right now, certified welders can make from $18-30 an hour in Central Texas — but that might not be enough money or take too long to achieve certification for some people looking for work now, according to Vanessa Daniel.

She is area operations manager for Spherion — they are a staffing company with offices in Central Texas.

"Filling positions that come a bit harder to us are gonna be those skilled positions such as the forklift, the welders, the CNC machinist, those that require some educational experience behind them," Daniel said.

Hill says Central Texas is growing, causing a boom in construction and a need for more welders and there’s optimism on the horizon.

"In recent years with the growth of Central Texas that we’ve seen, the pay has started to catch up so people are willing to stay longer," he said.

Workforce Solutions of Central Texas says it’s hard to determine how much wages and earnings will rise or decline in the future because they said wages are market driven, however they do predict a 6% increase in welding, cutter, solderer, and brazer jobs from 2022-2028.

They also predict there to be 389 openings of those same types of jobs from 2022-2028.

In that same report released this month, on average, there are 65 annual openings in those positions.