FLORENCE, Ky. -- About two-thirds of welders are baby boomers, and officials say they'll leave a huge hole in the workforce when most of them retire within the next seven years.
Gateway Community and Technical College has six new welding certifications this semester, including programs for structural steel welding and pipeline welding, to get young people into these skilled positions. Interest in welding jobs faded in the late '90s and early 2000s as young workers were driven toward more computer-focused technical jobs.
"It’s a good time to be a welder," said William Donahue, Gateway's welding program coordinator. "The shortage for a certified welder is pretty incredible. The American Welding Society estimates by 2020 it could be around 300,000, so the prospects for a certified welder being gainfully employed are pretty good right now."
Donahue said welders can practically pick a spot on the map and go there to find a job opportunity.
"Whether it be with infrastructure, ship building, train yards, even computerized welding, CNC manufacturing, bridge constructing, basically anything and everything that we deal with in our lives has some sort of welding in it or behind it," Donahue said.
The classes are so highly desired that they're already full, but Gateway officials said they will open more spots as demand increases. Students can finish a welding program within two years by attending day or night classes. Median salaries in the Cincinnati metro area are between $35,000 and $46,000.
Contact Donahue with any questions about Gateway's programs at 859-442-1139 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"You see these young people come in and they have absolutely no idea what opportunity lays ahead of them," Donahue said.