SHERIDAN — A Sheridan High School student is showing that when it comes to welding, it’s not just a man’s world.
Bailey Burr, who will be a senior at SHS next year, was certified as a level 1 welder in May, becoming only the second woman who was a junior to do that in the last seven years.
“It just seemed like a cool thing to do,” Burr said about the certification, which has a practical use as well. Level 1 welders can get work as either a beginning or apprentice welder.
“It helps with employability,” said Sheridan High School teacher Ward Cotton, who has judged work for welding certification for the last seven years. “The biggest thing is that it lets possible employers know you have already passed the exams.”
To become certified, students must score 80 percent on a practical knowledge exam and at least 90 percent on at a safety exam. They must also weld metal that can withstand being bent by the judge and not crack or break.
“It was scary at first and when it held up I wasn’t sure what to think,” Burr said about watching her project being tested. “I was happy it did.”
Cotton said that 28 SHS students tested for their certification this year and only five passed the test. Out of those five, three were seniors and two were juniors.
“It is rare for juniors to pass their certification,” Cotton said. “You need time. You have to have welded for three years and you have to be 17. We mostly certify seniors.”
Burr said it is becoming more common for women to become welders.
“I think that when you are out in the field you see a lot of different women are in it,” she said.
Cotton echoed Burr’s sentiment, saying young women as a whole are becoming more involved in vocational classes. He said his power mechanics class has about 45 percent female students and his agricultural class consists of 90 percent women.
“The girls are stepping out like crazy,” he said. “They are going into fields that were traditionally dominated by males and just aren’t any more. SHS has done a good job breaking barriers.”
Cotton said that Burr has shown a tremendous interest in vocational courses, taking almost every one offered at Sheridan High School. Burr said her male peers do not have any problem working with her.
“They think it is pretty cool,” she said.
Burr will often do projects on her own such as welding rails for a truck bed or working on the bumper of her father’s truck and Cotton said Burr is not willing to accept less than her best.
“She is real critical of her own work,” Cotton said. “If it is not right, she is tearing it all apart.”
Burr said that she is unsure yet what she will do after she is done at Sheridan High School, but with this certification she will have something on her resume that will help her stick out to potential employers.
“It says the person goes beyond the norm and achieves at a higher level,” Cotton said.