Skilled 4 Work: Welder encourages other women to pick up the torch

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As the welding industry grows, women make up a small percentage of welders – but one New Mexican hopes to change that as she starts her career.

“I knew I wanted to work with my hands in whatever I ended up doing so I knew that I needed to figure out my next step in my education and in my career,” said Alyssa Copeland, a welding student at CNM. “What I like about welding is there are a lot of opportunities and it’s a very respectful job.”

Copeland and other women make up around 4% of the welding workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At CNM, the number is higher as around 12% of welding students are women.

Alyssa is torching the stereotypes around the profession as, earlier this year, she became a state championship-winning welder with a very special sculpture. Now, she’s working on her next sculpture for another competition.

“There have been a few moments where there have been people that didn’t think I belonged, but here I am competing and they didn’t even make it through advanced classes,” she said.

Alyssa will graduate with her associate degree in welding next spring. She plans on becoming a professional TIG welder and may even continue making sculpture art on the side.