Neshoba students explore potential careers as welders

Image of Neshoba Central senior Reid Hall

Neshoba Central senior Reid Hall

A “detail oriented” student, senior Reid Hall takes a lot of pride in his projects in the welding and cutting technology program at Neshoba Central High School.

One only has to glance at any of his fire pits in the school shop to note his expertise.

Hall is one of eight students enrolled in the welding and cutting technology program’s Construction Core night class taught by Derek Huffman. Four others are enrolled in a Welding Level I night class taught by Joey Irby in the Career Technical Center.

Hall and a few others plan to continue in the program at East Central Community College after graduation.

Upon successful completion, they will have national recognition certification credentials.

“This is another outstanding opportunity for our students to add more credentials before they leave NCHS,” Neshoba County Superintendent of Education Lundy Brantley said.

“The more credentials a student has, the better chance they have of competing at a high level whether they enroll in college, enlist in the military or seek employment.” 

Hall, who will also play baseball at ECCC, is a third year student in Neshoba’s agriculture and natural resources class as well as a student in the night class.

“He learned to weld as part of our program,” Huffman said.

The fire pits, which sell for $350, feature a variety of designs, from Ole Miss and Mississippi State logos, to Rockets and family last names.

Huffman’s students are currently making a fire pit for a deer camp with a hunting theme.

“We can do any design,” he said.

Hall hopes to earn a certificate in welding from ECCC.

When asked where his dream job would be after he completes his studies, Hall said: “Anywhere that pays good!”

Huffman described Hall as a very detail oriented welder.

“He has the patience to take a project and weld it up. He is going to do it well enough to make sure it is right. He takes pride in what he does. If his welds don’t look right, he is going to be more bothered by it than anybody else.”

Next semester, Huffman’s students will move to Welding Level I.

Construction Core is taught through online modules about such things as employability, communication skills, job interview, resumes, safety, etc.

The students are working on a NCCER certification.

“This is basically to get them one step closer to being done when they go to East Central or whatever college they chose,” Huffman said. “They have already gotten Core and Level I out of the way. Then they can start on Level II and work up to whatever the community college level requires.”

He and Irby have had several students go through ECCC and are now working as certified welders.

Huffman said some of his current students plan a career in welding while others are just trying to learn something different. 

“Welders make good salaries,” he said, noting that some of his students worked at such places as Taylor Machine, B&G Equipment and Windham Tractor & Implement Co., among others.

Irby encourages students to take welding even if it isn’t their chosen career.

“I grew up on a dairy farm and we had welders and cutters to repair things,” he said.

Irby said welders commonly start out around $18 an hour.

“Over time, they can make $25 to $30 an hour,” he said.


­­--Story by Debbie Burt Myers