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Special School District of St. Louis County
Welding Program Provides
Hands-On Career Training

The welding program at SSD’s North and South Technical high schools offers students the opportunity to engage in valuable career and technical training, which can lead to a successful and meaningful future.

Senior Erica Mutzbauer, who attends South Tech and Lindbergh high schools, said she is better suited to hands-on learning.

“I am not one who wants to sit at a desk all day long,” said Mutzbauer, who enrolled in South Tech’s welding program two years ago. “It’s very different, and I will have the opportunity in the welding industry to make very good money without having to go to college for years and years.”

Students in the welding program apply advanced welding techniques to design, engineer, build, and troubleshoot complex metal fabrication challenges. They also develop confidence, good work ethic, team cooperation, and the stamina necessary for a career in fabrication.

The welding program is two-year program and students have the opportunity to earn an American Welding Society Certification in high school. Possible career opportunities include boilermaker, pipefitter, ironworker, millwright, sheet metal worker, welding inspector, welding engineer and welding sales and support.

Alec May, a senior at South Tech and Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School, discovered he liked welding after participating in the sophomore exploration program at South Tech.

May plans to attend the Missouri Welding Institute after graduation.

“After that, I plan on finding a job in the pipeline industry,” he said.

Mutzbauer plans to attend Tulsa Welding School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after graduation to continue her welding education and career. She said the program at South Tech includes interviewing skills and instructor Adam Holt helps the students learn how to fill out applications and work with recruiters.

“There are students who will not do well in college or who do not want to go to college, and welding gives them an option to go straight to a career after high school,” said Jim Sheppard, welding instructor at North Tech. “Last year I had more welding jobs available than students to place. North Tech is turning students into valuable assets to the community.”

Sheppard enjoys building character and self-confidence in his students.

“Many students have not thought about what they want to do after high school,” said Sheppard. “Teaching them they need a plan is important, and teaching them to plan for their future with a Plan B and maybe even a Plan C. It’s satisfying to teach them a skill that will be valuable their entire life regardless of what path they choose.”

While some students will choose to get a job after graduation or to continue their welding education, others plan on attending college and using their welding skills in other ways.

Senior Saivon Stith-Watkins, who attends Riverview Gardens High School and North Tech, said he plans on attending a university and is keeping his mind open as far as a career path. But he credits the welding program with helping him learn responsibility and specialized skills.

“I have learned a lot and hope to get a welding job to help me pay for college,” said Stith-Watkins. “The welding program has helped me grow in many ways.”


Published January 2016

photo of student in welding program

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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