First All-Women Welding Course Concludes at SCC

Whether you want to learn welding to earn a living or just weld for fun, Stanly Community College (SCC) is a great place to start. "It takes patience and precision to produce a weld bead blend along a metal joint," said Tabitha Ritchie, SCC's first female welding instructor. Ms. Ritchie has been teaching an introductory welding course to an all-female class. "This course is designed for women who have limited or no previous exposure to welding operations," she added. "We focused on GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) known as MIG welding and created metal candleholders and yard art for class projects."

Welding reaches deep into our daily lives—from the bridges and highways that we travel, automobiles we depend on, to the castles we call home. Welding professionals across our nation are nearing retirement age, and the demand for replacement workers is growing fast. According to the American Welding Society, Workforce Development,, the demand for skilled welding professionals is growing. "By 2025, our nation's workforce will need over 400,000 welders to satisfy the demands of several industries."

Welding student Wendy Hillhouse noted, "I loved this class and took it so I could make some cool yard art, but more importantly, to have new skills for employment."

Enrollee Mary Ann Gantt explained, "I wanted to take this class to assist me in making small furniture and decorative accessories. I am a clay artist and potter, so I needed an additional element to enhance my work. After learning the basics, I plan to add more art items to my product line."

According to The History of Welding at, "Welding's history dates back nearly 2,000 years ago during the Bronze Age when gold boxes were made by pressure welding lap joints together." Since 1977, SCC has been teaching welding classes, and the college now offers a comprehensive Welding program that includes a diploma, certificate, and continuing education courses.

Welding student Rebecca Cooper explained, "This was a good learning experience, and it gave me great pleasure knowing I can work on my own." Anne Houck, who also took the introductory course, noted, "This has been an excellent opportunity to learn how to weld fun projects. I plan to make metal gates for my garden as my first project after class."

Welding is a vocational trade that requires skills in math, science, spatial abilities, and hand-eye coordination. Traditionally, the welding industry has been male-dominated; however, with a growing interest among females to learn the trade, they are quickly filling the gap in an aging and retiring workforce. According to EMSI Data,, welders' median hourly earnings are $17.73 an hour, with nearly 2,894 jobs becoming available in the Charlotte region by 2020.

SCC's welding course teaches students a basic introduction to welding safety requirements, fundamental GMAW procedures and beginner level welding skill development techniques for flat and horizontal weld positions, and use of mild steel base metal applications. More information is available from Tabitha Ritchie, at (704) 991-0181 or

Women Welding

Pictured is SCC's first welding class for women (left to right): Tabitha Ritchie, Welding Instructor, students Mary Ann Gantt, Wendy Hillhouse, Anne Houck, and Becky Cooper. Not pictured is Nancy Lipe.


Students focused on GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) known as MIG welding for their class projects that included creating metal candleholders and yard art.