Since 1996, the American Welding Society has designated April as National Welding Month, with a mission to bring awareness to the welding industry and its available career paths. Welding careers are indispensable to keeping people safe and advancing the quality of life across the globe.
However, participation in welding and other skilled trades continues to decrease. This year’s theme is “Be a part of the future of welding.”
For Danea Buschkoetter, it’s more than just a theme. Welding is her occupation and her passion. That’s why she advocates for women in the welding community.
“I believe that it is super important for women to get involved in the welding industry,” says Buschkoetter, a welding instructor at NCK Tech. “The welding industry, as a whole, is in desperate need of skilled workers.”
To meet the expected demand for welding projects it is anticipated that 360,000 welding professionals will be needed by 2027, according to WeldingWorkforceData.com.
“Women bring a whole new perspective to the trade that can be very valuable to the industry,” she says. “Often, women are more detail oriented and have a steadier hand, which are great attributes for a welder to have. Welding is such a rewarding career in so many ways. As an instructor I get to help change people’s lives every single day. When you are out in the industry you get to build things with your hands and can show your future grandkids that you built it. Also, you can get paid very well in the industry.”
However, it’s not always easy.
“Being a woman in the industry can definitely have its challenges,” Buschkoetter says. “I have experienced several challenges within my career. However, they have just made me stronger and the woman that I have become today.”
Buschkoetter is originally from south central Nebraska, but she has lived in Kansas for the past 7 years. Her interest in welding began early.
“I got involved in welding back when I was a sophomore in high school,” she says.“I wanted to be a part of the FFA program, and to do so I had to take an agriculture course. The only course that was available to me was one that was an intro about everything that was taught. At first, I did not want to do welding, but my teacher told me if I didn’t do it that I would not pass her course. So, I had to come in after class and try it with upperclassmen and was instantly hooked. I originally wanted to be a meteorologist until I job shadowed and quickly found that it was not a path for me. I then fell back on welding because of how many different ways I could go with it. While in high school I was very successful in FFA welding competitions.”
Buschkoetter is a graduate of Fort Hays State University where she majored in Applied Technology specializing in Manufacturing. Prior to FHSU, she attended NCK Tech where she received her Associates degree in Welding Engineering Technology and her Welding Certificate.
While at NCK Tech, she qualified to be on the Skills USA Welding Fabrication Team where she found success at the state and national levels, placing first at State and third at Nationals. She was an ambassador for the college while attending. While at Fort Hays she was active in the Technology Engineering Education Collegiate Association (TEECA), where she won awards at the regional and national levels (back-to-back national championships in Live Manufacturing). She was a member of Sigma Alpha, a professional business sorority, where she strengthened her leadership skills. She was also inducted into Epsilon Pi Tau, a technical honor society.
Buschkoetter has 2.5 years of welding fabrication experience and was a design engineer intern for Pioneer Millworks INC and a Project Manager Intern for Crossland Construction. She was an undergrad assistant for the department of Applied Technology while attending FHSU. She also has experience in the Millwright industry as a laborer/millwright. When she has a break from teaching at NCK Tech you might catch her filming content for Weld.com, where she is an educator. In addition, she is an ambassador for The Crew Collaborative and a brand ambassador for Edge Welding Cups.
She has been teaching at NCK Tech for the last 4 years and is responsible for teaching all welding processes. With GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding) being her favorite. Along with different cutting procedures, she teaches from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.
“Every day is different,” she explains. “I have students on different processes and different welding positions, which is a challenge. I can go from GMAW to GTAW in a matter of minutes. It is also important that my students understand the book side of the welding industry. I quiz my students every Friday, and they have homework every night except for the weekends. I don’t want my students to be welders all their life. I want them to move up the chain.”
Buschkoetter advocates for the welding industry in several ways.
“Not only do I help train students to go out in the welding workforce, but I also heavily advocate welding through my social channels like Instagram,” she says. “During the month of April, I challenged myself to post something regarding welding every single day. I am also a board member of the Crew Collaborative non-profit, where our main focus is advocating for the trades. We advocate in different ways. We present classroom talks to Jr./Sr. high schoolers where we talk about our careers. Crew just started the framework program, which is going to offer mentors to students getting into the trades. I am also a part of Weld.com where I get to create content for beginning welders or welders who are wanting to learn something new through their YouTube channel, Instagram, and their app.”
Buschkoetter believes it’s important to have a voice and to make sure it is heard. However, it is also important to listen.
“There is a reason you were created with two ears and one mouth,” she says. “The welding industry is an old-school industry. There are tons of ways to get the same result and often the old timers have a few tricks up their sleeves. Also, don’t be afraid of trying something new. If you’re not learning something new every day, you are not living. Work hard and that hard will pay off in the long run, but also don’t forget to create boundaries. Your happiness should be your priority. Don’t let ANYONE ruin that.”
People can find Danea on Instagram and TikTok at Welder Danea and Danea Buschkoetter on Linkedin.