We’re taking another look at jobs in demand in the Shenandoah Valley. You may not think about it, but the work of welders is around you every day.
James Perry says one of the best things about being a welder is that no two days are the same. He got his start in the industry by getting some help close to home.
"Every day, I'd be like, 'Dad, what do you do, what do you do?' 'Well, I'm a welder,' or 'I do this,' and he'd show me a couple things, do some small projects, and finally he would have me behind the welder itself," he said.
James is continuing his family's business. His father, Wiley Perry, is an instructor for Blue Ridge Community College's welding program. James' time studying at BRCC helped lead to his career at Riddleberger Brothers in Rockingham County.
"Every building you've been in, every truck you drive, there was a welder at one point in time that touched that metal, that put the weld in, that helped build whatever you were driving or walking through," James said. "Every weld you make as a welder, that's your signature. That is your own, because everybody has their own style just like everybody has their own signature, and if your signature is somewhat unacceptable, that's the one they remember."
According to economic statistics gathered by the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, the typical salary range for welding positions is from $29,597 to $50,700. Over the next decade, there's a projected need for 770 of these positions in our area. Most welding occupations require a high school diploma and a post-secondary certificate.
"There are buildings that are going to be erected every single day until humans leave the earth or until we have robots that can do as good as a human being, but at the same time, you still need a human being to program that robot," James said. "So you're still gonna need a welder."