Welding pioneer describes the trade industry as ‘an absolute no brainer’ in today’s economy

Welding is a profitable career that can provide America’s youth with a steady income free of debt in a trade that is in high demand in the market, a leader in the industry told Fox News Digital. 

Tyler Sasse, the owner and founder of Western Welding Academy (WWA) in Gillette, Wyoming, told Fox News Digital that social media has allowed the welding school to grow and spread the word about the “incredible” opportunity that welding provides. 

“We started with ten welding booths and about ten students, and now the school runs 24 hours a day [in] three, eight-hour shifts and 98% of our students come from all across the country,” he said. “You don’t have to go to college to get a really, really good career, you spent six months of your life to make $100,000, which is, if you got the work ethic, the accountability, the integrity to do it, it’s incredible the money that you can make, and we tell those stories all day, every day.” 

The welding academy works to recruit young Americans into the field and one of the initiatives of the WWA, called “Blue Collar Tours,” Sasse said, has been really popular, especially during and after the COVID pandemic. 

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Tyler Sasse

Tyler Sasse (Western Welding Academy)

“COVID was happening, the suicide rates were just off the charts, and so we got together, and we decided to travel around and talk to high school kids, talk to them about the different career opportunities and really, at the end of the day, we believe in investing in the youth because if we don’t, who will?” he asked. 

He reflected on the colleges that shut down their campuses during the COVID-19 outbreak, but still expected students to pay full price at the same time that artificial intelligence (AI) was really breaking into the mainstream market. 

“For three generations, we’ve been telling our kids, if you want to be something in life, you need to go to college and now, a lot of them are out in the marketplace really struggling because AI is just taking over,” Sasse said. “The accounting functions, the banking functions, a lot of these white collar jobs or even engineering … AI is decimating a lot of these white collar jobs, but it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, you still need a toilet, you still want to live in a house, you still want all these things, you want to put gas in your car and those are made possible by welders and blue collar people.” 

“This country was built on the backs of blue collar people, and it will continue to run on the backs of blue collar people,” he added.

Welding, specifically, Sasse said, is a skill that is not easily replaced by robots. 

“A lot of these traits can be broken down into segments,” he explained. “As an electrician I can teach somebody to put up conduit and pull wire and wire switches … But as a welder, it takes six months to be really good at it and to be able to operate at the level that we train our students at. Where else can you go into a trade at a journeyman level with six months of training? So, that’s kind of the pitch, it’s what we tell people, if you want to do something that’s intense, that pays a lot of money and takes a high amount of skill, then welding is probably where you should first look.”

Workers of Eurovia Transport Ferroviaire company "ETF" prepare the equipment for the last welding of the rails on the 15 South metro line of the new "Grand Paris Express", in the metro station of Clamart on april 3, 2024. "For three generations, we've been telling our kids, if you want to be something in life, you need to go to college and now, a lot of them are out in the marketplace really struggling because AI is just taking over," Sasse said. "The accounting functions, the banking functions, a lot of these white collar jobs or even engineering … AI is decimating a lot of these white collar jobs, but it doesn't matter how rich or poor you are, you still need a toilet, you still want to live in a house, you still want all these things, you want to put gas in your car and those are made possible by welders and blue collar people." "This country was built on the backs of blue collar people and it will continue to run on the backs of blue collar people," he added.

Workers of Eurovia Transport Ferroviaire company “ETF” prepare the equipment for the last welding of the rails on the 15 South metro line of the new “Grand Paris Express”, in the metro station of Clamart on April 3, 2024.  (Getty Images)

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Despite the fact that AI is taking over many white collar jobs, Sasse said blue collar trades are still really “suffering” for more people to do the work.  

“All the products that we just take for granted, whether it’s computer chips and gas and oil and pulp and paper and wood … products from concrete to steel are all made possible because of welders,” he said. “We like to say we’re the king of trades. We hold the world together, and really it’s not an easy job. It’s hot and sweaty, but you get paid a lot of money, and you get to see some really cool parts of the country.”

Sasse stressed that all trades are important, including industries like trucking, plumbing, iron work and carpentry, but described welding as a skill where you have to “do all of it.”

“There’s the cutting, the prepping, the welding portion of it and to be able to weld at a really high level, that is not something that can be segmented, so it cannot be automated, a robot cannot do it,” he explained. 

“It’s only a human with hand-eye coordination and the brain, that combination, that’s what it takes to be a welder and that’s why it takes six months to learn,” he added. “That’s why the pay is so high and that’s why there’s always just such a huge demand for welders, there always has been and always will be.”

Tyler Sasse

Tyler Sasse (Western Welding Academy)

In today’s economy especially, Sasse said welding is an incredible alternative to college and the mounting student debt many young people have, which he described as a “massive problem” in our country that has gotten worse every year. 

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“We, as a society, have built a system that has allowed kids to rack up huge amounts of debt, to go in and get these degrees and go into fields where they can’t make enough money to pay back their student loans,” he said. “For a young person to say, ‘I’m gonna go to school for six months, and it’s going to cost me a fraction, but I’m going to have a guaranteed spot out there in the marketplace;’ when you look at it from simply just a return on investment, it’s an absolute no-brainer when you think about it.”

“If you go to school for six months versus somebody who’s at a four-year college, that’s three and a half income-producing years that you have,” he added. “When you come out of high school, you are now in the marketplace, and you are competing with people and if you can gain three and a half years on somebody else, we’ve run the math, we’ve got all kinds of ROI calcs that we show people … you can make $100,000 – $150,000 a year with six months of schooling, maybe there’s 2% of people that might be able to do that if they go to a four-year college, but that’s just not a reality.”

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“For some young person that wants a trade, wants a career, wants to dedicate six months of their life – and it’s not easy work, I’m not going to tell you that it is, but it is incredibly rewarding,” Sasse said.

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