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A Woman in Welding

// November 7, 2018

Finding Her Passion and a Career in Welding

Sharna Frazier is not afraid of hard work. She works up to 50 hours a week between classes for her apprenticeship that will prepare her for a career in welding and her new construction job, which pays $23/hour.

In fact, hard work excites Frazier. She enjoys the physical challenges of working in construction. She also knows when she completes a welding class or reaches a certification, she’s eligible for a raise. Most importantly, she knows that by working hard and absorbing all that she can, she’ll be able to start her own business when she graduates.

The first black woman in her apprenticeship program

“I’ve never had a job with a chance for raises before,” said Frazier, who is the first black woman in the apprenticeship program through Ironworkers Local 24. “I just want to do really good.”

I’ve never had a job with a chance for raises before,” said Frazier.

Welding is one of the fastest growing professions in America. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for welders is expected to grow 26 percent by 2020. Nearly everything we use in our daily life is welded or made by equipment that has been welded. In construction, welders build and repair bridges, erect wind turbines, and even create pollution control devices.

Preparing for a career in welding

Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities (C.H.I.C.) is a member of WFCO’s WAGES (Women Achieving Greater Economic Security) grantee cohort. In 2016, with the help of fiscal sponsor and partner organization Impact Empowerment Group (IEG), it kicked off a program to help families break intergenerational cycles of poverty and violence. C.H.I.C.’s focus is to place women in training programs that will prepare them for a career in welding, construction, and other high-growth industries.

C.H.I.C. offers a variety of services, including employment and education outreach. In 2018 it will help up to 40 women secure employment with business partners such as Allied Universal, Amazon fulfillment centers, IRON Workers Union, Colorado Homebuilders Association, Concessions International, Denver Works, LGC Logistics, and Road Safe Traffic.

Finding C.H.I.C. for a reason

Earlier this year, Frazier, 29, never would have guessed she would find her passion and future career in welding. She had just moved back to Denver from Montana, where she worked as a certified nursing assistant. She wanted to increase her wages while helping her siblings take care of her mother. Her brother connected her to C.H.I.C. Within weeks she had passed a rigorous “gladiator” physical exam and completed a fire watch training program.

“Frazier came to us looking for a job, and through her work ethic and determination, she is making a career for herself,” said Hilari Smith, associate director with C.H.I.C. “Her spirit, focus, and positive outlook are inspiring – without a blink she will jump into a new challenge. She encourages me just as much as I encourage her.”

Frazier feels like she found C.H.I.C. for a reason. C.H.I.C. opened the door to work that she truly enjoys and that provides enough income for her to do more for her mom and even buy materials for her number one passion – painting.

In addition to a future in welding, she also aspires to become an EMT, learn phlebotomy, and grow her own food. Hard work is just a part of who Frazier is.

“Let’s do it!” she said.

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