In a profession dominated by men, CCD instructor and alumna, Jessica Schechter, believes she has found her career. In 2014, she was one of four female students in a program with 60 men. Soon after, Jessica completed an Associate of Applied Science in Fabrication Welding and has now started working as an instructor for the program.
As a jewelry maker accustomed to precise work, Jessica had some experience with welding and liked it. “Steady hands have been helpful,” she said. “I’m surprised how much I enjoy this field; it is both challenging and creative and it is working out great.”
Formerly, Jessica studied anthropology and women’s studies. She also pursued industrial design at the Art Institute of Denver. “I made the right decision by coming to CCD,” she said. "At first, I wondered if physical strength would be an issue, but it isn’t. I have no problem doing the work.”
And now that work is translating into instruction for Schechter. “My fellow instructors have created a great environment here. The coursework is all hands on, which I like, and I get to work closely with the students and show them my passion for this valuable skill set."
Janet Colvin, CCD's manufacturing programs navigator agrees, "We are thrilled to have not just one, but two, outstanding female instructors who teach in our welding program. The machining and welding skill sets we teach are in-demand by top employers. "
CCD currently has 13 female students in advanced manufacturing courses, a number that is continuing to grow with each semester. "The women in the program are engaged and challenged,” says Colvin. “They are constantly learning and eager to show the team their machining and welding projects."
In an effort to help prove to females that “You can do it,” CCD has developed Project Do It Yourself (DIY), a summer camp funded by the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. It focuses on increasing the interest of high school grade girls and engaging them to pursue advanced manufacturing and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. In the summer of 2017, 26 students from five local high schools completed one-week camps in which they gained hands-on experience in engineering graphics/CAD, 3D printing, machining, welding and architecture and fittingly the camp themes were “We Can Do It” and “Do It Yourself!”
CCD offers students the ability to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in fabrication welding, which they can apply toward a bachelor’s degree at any public four-year college or university in Colorado. Or students can start with one of four certificate programs and gain the knowledge needed to start a career immediately. With the economy on the rebound, there are many construction projects looking to hire new employees, with an average salary ranging from $13 to $40 per hour, depending on experience.
“Women in welding are typically skilled with fine motor skills,” says Matthew Sweeney, director of CCD’s Advanced Manufacturing Center. “Fabrication welding careers are in demand as they are needed in all sorts of careers—from construction and custom fabrication to 3D sculptures and art installations. These jobs have family-sustaining wages that benefit both men and women.”
Learn more about CCD's welding program and discover the many industries and job possibilities throughout the country and in the state of Colorado.
Questions? Contact Janet Colvin and schedule a tour of our Advanced Manufacturing Center.