Enterprise High School’s welding department strives to help students latch on to a future in welding, which can be extremely lucrative.
EHS welding instruction Josh Richter understands how lucrative it can be as he has more than a decade worth of experience at working at various plants around the country as a welder. Richter – who graduated from EHS – stepped in to lead the welding program after his teacher and longtime EHS welding instruction Dale Stewart asked him to.
“Dale was always on me about wanting me to teach,” Richter remembered. “He meant so much to me that there was no way I could let him down, so here I am.”
Richter said his goal is to push his students to progress in welding as far as they can.
“I just want to push them as far as I can push them,” Richter said. “Not every kid is the same. Some kids just go through the progressions so fast and others it takes them a lot longer than others.
“I want to try and get a NCCER Core certification for the advanced kids and show them the living they can make at it.”
While Richter said he hopes to be able to help students be able to get full American Welding Society (AWS) certification in future years, he already has students that leave EHS and get right into a well-paying job as a welder.
“A plant I used to work wanted an entry level welder to be on the maintenance crew,” Richter said. “I sent one of my students last year that graduated – with no (AWS) certification or anything – and they started him off at $20 an hour, 50 hours per week. That’s good money for an 18-year old.”
Richter said that he puts paycheck stubs on the wall of former students so that his current students get to see just how much money a welder can make.
“The paychecks on the wall says it all,” he emphasized. “If there wasn’t a huge demand for it, if they wouldn’t be saying those amounts. Some companies are paying $30-40 an hour. Skilled welders can make a fortune in a small period of time.”
EHS welding offers Intro to Welding along with Welding I, Welding II and Welding III. Along with the position and spot welding projects Richter’s students do, his advanced students also work on projects brought to them by the school system, the city and even the county. Richter said that his students and masonry students even got to work on the giant eagle outside of the new Coppinville Junior High. EHS welders built the frame for the eagle and the masonry students bricked part of the project, as well. EHS welders also built the sign frames for the jumbotron in Wildcat Stadium.
Richter said that a big plus for the school is how much the administration supports the career tech program.
“I think it’s huge, especially to have an administration that supports us like it does,” Richter said of the career tech program. “We have an administration that doesn’t just push college on kids or just push the career tech side. They support us all. We have a broad spectrum of courses and options at EHS.
“Kids get a better understanding what they want to do once they graduate, whether that’s going to a trade school or a four-year college or going right into the workforce.”