UCC student chooses non-traditional career path in high-demand industry.
ROSEBURG, Oregon – Devona Culver always wanted to be like her older brother—especially when it came to welding. When the time came for the Umpqua Community College (UCC) student to choose a career, she didn’t hesitate in taking a non-traditional path.
“(My brother) always told me nothing is out of bounds,” she said. “He always let me know that I could do and succeed at whatever I put my mind to.”
When Devona’s inspiration to become a welder came around, it wasn’t just her brother who had an influence. There’s a family legacy in molding metal and steel. Devona’s mom, brother, and grandfather were all welders. Her grandfather actually had a hand in building the monorail in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been around people who work really hard all of my life,” she said. “I saw welding as just another hard job that I’d like to take on.”
Devona was used to taking heat on a job site. Before entering UCC’s Welding program in 2015, she worked as a baker.
“I got used to getting hot and getting burned, so welding seemed right up my alley,” she said. “All I did was trade my oven mitts for welding gloves.”
According to Welding Program Coordinator Ian Fisher, there are 75 employers up and down the I-5 corridor who are hiring welders.
“UCC can’t graduate welders fast enough to keep up with the demand,” Fisher said.
Welders can take their skills all over the world, or stay close to home and work in their own backyard. Devona, who will officially earn her degree this coming fall, is hoping for the closer option. When she’s ready, there will be a job for her, and she’ll get to choose. She’s in demand and ready to get the job done.
“I want to pull my own weight when I get hired,” she said. “I’m definitely not afraid of hard work.”
Welding graduates have many employment opportunities. According to the Oregon Employment Department, wages in Douglas County vary from $10 to $25 an hour. The statewide average annual salary is roughly $38,500.
About Umpqua Community College
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.
Ian Fisher - Contact
Associate Professor, Coordinator, Welding