JAMESTOWN, N.C. — For years, welding has been seen as a man’s field, and by and large it still is.
Now, that’s changing.
With so many companies having a hard time filling critical jobs, many say women are highly qualified to fill the gap.
“They wouldn’t normally think that they would be qualified and so they don’t even pursue it and that needs to go away,” Joel Leonard, a workforce developer, said.
Inez Mickel says she never cared about the stereotypes.
She knew at a young age that she wanted to do welding.
She explained that not only does it bring her joy, but it’s a career that has a lot to offer financially.
“It’s a great way to provide for your family. As a female when you’re making $1,500 a week — that’s a lot,” she said.
Mickel studied welding at Guilford Technical Community College and will graduate this week.
One of her instructors is a woman.
Jill Caudill says she is used to the reactions she gets when tells people she is a welder.
The surprise reactions probably because many still see it as “a man’s job.”
“It shouldn’t be considered that anymore. It started in World War II with women needing to be filling those roles,” Caudill said.
There is a high demand for welders and similar skills today.
“If you call about any company here in the area and talk to their HR department, they’re looking for some kind of technical skilled person,” Gene Holder, a metals tech instructor at Weaver Academy and chairman of a local chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, said.
Mickel and Caudill didn’t necessarily get into the industry to make a statement but hope other women are open to new opportunities even if they are a little less traditional.
According to a GTCC press release, Mickel recently won Best GTAW (TIG) weld at the American Welding Society Regional Welding Competition.
Mickel says after graduation she would like to work as a traveling welder.