Officials: Welders, pipe fitters needed to accommodate growth

Anticipation is  building for what's expected to be tremendous growth and opportunity in Southwest Louisiana.

Dr. Joe Fleishman of SOWELA said two crafts – welders and pipe fitters alone – will generate an annual payroll of about $400 million.

That's because 5,000 welders are needed and 3,600 pipe fitters.

The Better Business Bureau held a breakfast at SOWELA Technical Community College which offers classes in welding.

At age 26, instructor Jonathan Darbonne said welding has already been a great career.

"I made about $36,000 in my first year, but I only worked part of the year because I graduated. I graduated in May. The second half of the year I brought in about $35, 36,000 and ever since then I've been upwards to $50,000 plus. The most I've ever been able to make in a year was about $72,000," Fleishman said.

The reason so many welders and other crafts are needed is because officials say more than $40 billion worth of new construction and business development is taking shape in Southwest Louisiana.

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