DOBSON – The welding shop at Surry Community College is a study in supply and demand – and the upshot is high wages for welders the college trains.

Five-and-a-half years ago, Surry had 12 welding students, President David Shockley says in the accompanying video.  Then a company arrived nearby that needed welders – and today Surry has 100 welding students.

“Almost every one of those students has a job when they leave here and leave our program,” Shockley says.

There are broader forces at work as well, says Lead Welding Instructor Michael Dixon – in the ‘80s and ‘90s, more students went into computers than into trades that were considered “dirty” and “hot.”

So there’s now a shortage of 250,000 welders in the U.S – and their pay keeps increasing.

“You can start out anywhere from $12, $14 an hour to $22 an hour – and it goes up from there.  If you’re willing to travel, $25 an hour minimum, and the sky’s the limit,” Dixon says.

“How hard you want to work translates to how much money’s in your bank account – simple as that.”

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