Sheila Pruitt has been a professional welder for almost four years after deciding to make a career change. After working in Louisiana and Texas, Pruitt is now based in Oklahoma and said the decision to abandon her job as an administrative assistant and become a trained welder was one of the best moves she has ever made.

“There is a lot to love about this job and it’s much more than just doing grunt construction work,” Pruitt said. “It’s challenging work and can be demanding, at times, but it is also something you can take a lot of pride in doing, which I was really lacking in my previous job as a secretary.”

Pruitt received formal welding training and certification before starting her career as a professional welder, which she said was crucial because many welding and construction companies are looking for workers that have a wide knowledge of the welding industry. Not only is Pruitt helping to meet the growing demand for welders across the country, she is also a part of a growing number of women that are choosing welding as a career. According to the United States Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, the number of female welders in the U.S. has increased by over 2 percent over the past decade and the increase is expected to continue. That might not sound like a large increase, but labor officials say it points to a trend of more women getting into the welding industry.

Job seekers of both genders can find a strong future as a professional welder, especially since the National Association of Manufactures estimate that an additional 14 million welders will be needed by 2020, but more and more women are entering the field as the job of a professional and certified welder emerges into one that requires not only physical strength but knowledge of new technology and equipment.

The Advanced Career Institute’s welding program is designed to prepare each student to obtain American Welding society welder performance certification and students will also receive training in a variety of skills, including construction site safety, blue print and site plan reading, principals of metallurgy, construction math and welding tool usage. Welding jobs are becoming much more complex and the technology involved is also changing rapidly, especially with the growth of the energy and health care sector, which are constantly building state of the art buildings and infrastructure. However, even though the demand for professional welders is growing, construction and welding companies will still look to those who have professional training and the right type of certification when filling vacancies. Advanced Career Institute’s welding program students graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to put themselves at the front of the line.