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Program hopes to attract more women to welding

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SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) -

The American Welding Society is trying to fill open positions by attracting more women to the job and local community college is helping in that effort.

People searching for work can go from unemployed to middle class with some welding classes. Trained welders make anywhere from $15 to $30 dollars an hour.

"Notice when I pulled it when I stopped the arch I get quick flip," said Lori Safrit to her welding students. Safrit said she started welding about ten years ago.

"My husband had passed away in April. And we got laid off the beginning of June end of July the same year and I was like what am I going to do?"

She lost her job at Pillowtex.

"If I'm going to make money to pay these bills like my husband did, I'm going to have to do a man's job," said Safrit, "I kind of narrowed it down to automotive or welding."

She's the only female instructor.

"We have had quite a few women welders, women come in to take the program. They all fit in great," said Safrit.

At Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, they received an NC Back-to-Work grant which will allow at least ten students to become welders in the next eight months and cover all their costs.

"I thought it was a good opportunity to start a new career," said Edith Rodriguez.

Rodriguez went to the careers in welding information session at R3 in Kannapolis.

"It pays decent and not many females are welders. I think I'm capable of doing what a guy could do," said Rodriguez.

Brandi Hilliard graduated from the welding program last year and makes $62 an hour in West Virginia as a welder.

"There was some struggling, getting through the program, working and going to school to get where I'm at," said Hilliard, "But in the end it definitely paid off."

Hilliard said before welding when she was unemployed she had no idea how successful she could be. And these women said that's whether you define success by happiness or money.

"I've loved it ever since I had anything to do with welding," said Safrit. 

If you're a man or woman interested in a possible career in welding R3 career services in Kannapolis can help. Their number is 704-216-7201.

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