More West Texas Women Pursuing Welding Careers

by Roma Vivas
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- Being a good welder means more than just grabbing a torch it takes patience and attention to details. But welding is known for being mostly a man's job and many women around West Texas are breaking that mold.

Gloria De Los Santos has been a welder for about ten years. She grew up seeing her dad do the job so it felt natural for her to start the trade.

"Outside of it being hard, it's a lot of fun, all the work it involves," Odessa College Welding Instructor Gloria De Los Santos, said.

But that also meant breaking into the boy's club.

"It's not been easy, once they see me actually working or just my background itself, that says alot and that gives them a reason to listen and give me a shot," De Los Santos said.

De Los Santos has been an instructor for Odessa College for about two years. The mother of three says she's seen more women interested in the profession.

"Marriages is something alot of people are getting into and it's taken so lightly that women have to learn how to support themselves. And right now it's the time. Welding is one of the highest paying jobs especially here in the Permian Basin," De Los Santos said.

A welder can earn anywhere from $13 to $60 dollars an hour depending on the experience.

That was a big incentive for Melissa Thompson.

"I just started at the home store and started mid-welding and been welding for about 14 months and then I've been going up here for about four months at Odessa college. A lot of people kind of freak out seeing women welding, but I really haven't had too much trouble with it," Welding Student Melissa Thompson, said.

Thompson says welding is not for everyone and it has nothing to do with gender.

"Probably steady hand, pretty much been a painter all my life and I think having a steady hand helps," Thompson said.

De Los Santos and Thompson say when they are at the job they are all business and that means getting dirty if the job needs it. But once they clock out, they are ready to get cleaned up, put some make up on, and high heels.