Demand for U.S. welding jobs continues to rise as fewer students are seeking out trade school as a career path.
There will be so much demand for welding jobs that the American Welding Society (AWS) estimates that by 2023, there will be a shortage of more than 375,000 welders to fill those slots.
“There’s a lot of welding spots out there that have to be filled,” Pennsylvania College of Technology (PCT) student Alex Bibber told Fox News.
AWS researchers say there are several reasons why there is such a demand for workers.
“The shortage is due to attrition. Whether it is retirements, people leaving the industry, or people moving and advancing. It’s also due to a negative perception of welding,” said Monica Pfarr, the executive director of the AWS Foundation.
Pfarr also noted that many students choose universities over trade schools.
“There’s that [belief that] everybody needs a four-year degree if you’re going to be successful, and that’s just not the case,” said Pfarr, adding that fewer high schools are giving students the option of enrolling in trade schools.
There are also stigmas surrounding the profession that it is dangerous.
“Just ’cause you’re a girl, you know, people think it’s a dangerous job. They think it’s dirty, you know, you’re not going to be able to do it. But it’s just another thing. It doesn’t bother me at all,” said PCT student Natalie Rhoades.
PCT in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is doing its best to change those negative stigmas against trade schools. The trade school just completed a $7 million welding lab, making it one of the largest in the country.
Students can earn a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree in welding at school, and many students with an associate’s degree start out making $40,000 per year.
Blue-collar worker wages have been rising faster than white-collar salaries because of the differences in demands from employers, Breitbart News reported last month. Skilled labor, like welding, can drive up wages.