After graduating from College of the Mainland at age 20 with no debt, rig welder Merced Arroyo feels that he is ahead of the game.

“I came out owing nothing and started working right away,” the 30-year-old Texas City resident said.
For Arroyo, work in the Gulf Coast area, East Texas and beyond is anything but sluggish.
“Here in Texas, there’s a boom right now in pipeline [welding],” said Arroyo. “I just go where the job takes me. If it’s a good opportunity, I’ll take it.”
After earning a one-year certificate from COM, Arroyo worked his way up, first in a welding workshop, then in Iraq and later in refineries. He currently works as an independent contractor and next has a one-year job with Bumpco as a rig welder. He feels confident of continuing opportunities.
“It’s a broad field. There are many ways you can go,” said Arroyo.
The field also offers the opportunity to continually try new things and fine-tune his skills.
“It’s a challenge. I’m interested in it and enjoy doing it. Plus, the money’s good,” Arroyo added.
At the end of the day, he feels the satisfaction of a job well done.
“I like making it as good as I can. Everyone welds differently. I like learning new things everyday,” he said.
Arroyo still stops by the COM welding workshop to visit with current students, sometimes offering a quick tip or direction, and to see former instructors.
“They’re the ones who got me started in the career I’m in,” he said.

Doc Miller, COM welding instructor, remembers watching Arroyo as he was beginning to learn.
“He was a premier student,” said Miller.

Arroyo’s story of steady work is a familiar one among program graduates, Miller said.

“There are jobs all across the U.S. It’s a good time (to enter the field),” said Miller.
In COM’s Welding Program, students may earn certificates to prepare them to enter the field or to upgrade their current skills. All former professionals, instructors guide hands-on practice in the welding lab and provide instruction in blueprint reading, welding principles, structural steel codes and welding inspection.

Classes begin June 3 and regularly throughout the year. For more information, call 409-933-8380 or 409-933-8454.