When Rhoderick Villanueva needed a career a new spark, he turned to Houston Community College.

Although he was employed as a welder at the time, Villanueva earned only $30,000 a year because of limited skills.

“I went to HCC to learn multiple processes,” Villanueva said. “HCC makes the tools available. They give you hands-on training and everything you need.”

Villanueva now earns $70,000 a year, thanks to training and a strong economy along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Welders are in short supply as petrochemical companies scramble to complete more than $50 billion in plant expansions over the next five years.

The revived petrochemical and industrial trades industries mean the manufacturing, maritime, and construction industries are growing too, adding to the demand for welders. The region’s need for welders is expected to grow by 17-percent over the next decade.

According to EnergizeHouston.org, welders use hand-welding or flame-cutting equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.

The process of welding uses either electricity or various gasses to create high temperatures that bond metals. Welders may also be required to flame cut or cold cut metal based on blueprints or isometric drawings to construct new pipe or structural steel systems for process systems and unit infrastructure components.

Flame cutting may also be required for equipment demo prior to new construction of new equipment. The skill level varies between different types of welding depending on the metallurgy and process required to complete a reliable weld.

Welders in the Houston area earn a median salary of $39,886; some earn more than $61,600 without overtime.

HCC offers two certificate programs in welding, as well as several noncredit programs to help workers improve their skills.

Welding Technician 1 provides an Introduction to Welding Multiple Processes: basic welding processes, including oxyfuel welding (OFW) and cutting, shield metal arc welding (SMAW), and gas metal arc welding (GMAW).

Cost is $1,500 for the course, which requires 160 class hours.

Students can also enroll in Introduction to Pipe Welding and/or TIG (GTAW) Welding. Each is 80 class hours and $490.

Some HCC welding certification programs do not require a high school diploma for admission.

For information about all HCC welding courses, visit hccs.edu.