UTI Grad Shares What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Welding

Jun 16, 2021 ·
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Few find a career that combines their personal passions with their patriotism. For first-generation American Stephanie Morales, welding fused a love of craft with a love of country to help forge a career building Navy ships at General Dynamics NASSCO in her hometown of San Diego, California.

Stephanie is an outlier in a trade that is physically and mentally demanding. Only 3.8% of welding personnel are female, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the recent Universal Technical Institute (UTI) Welding program graduate is a proud part of a growing number of women who want to inspire other women to pick up the torch and become welders.

Keep reading to learn about Stephanie’s inspiring story and some of the exciting opportunities welders can pursue.

Women Inspiring Women

Stephanie credits her mother for being an inspiration and for supporting her vocational call to welding. In turn, she wants to inspire her twin 11-year-old sisters by showing them that women can do anything they set their minds to. Stephanie’s relationships with her mother and sisters continue to inspire her to reach impressive milestones in the trade.

For UTI grad Stephanie Morales, welding fused a love of craft with a love of country to create a rewarding career building Navy ships.

When Welding Came Into the Picture

One of the last electives Stephanie took before high school graduation was a shop class, where she first picked up a welding torch. Around the same time, a representative from UTI visited her high school and spoke about the school’s Welding program.

Stephanie was in the midst of deciding on her post-high school plans and was considering a career in nursing because she felt drawn to help others. But her passion for welding ultimately led her to UTI.

She also learned that a career in welding can have appealing benefits, including the opportunity to travel the world and make a good living.6

Nothing Deters a Determined Woman

Stephanie’s decision to pursue higher education at UTI concerned her father, since welding is a predominantly male trade. But she got the support she needed from her mother and started the Welding program at UTI Rancho Cucamonga.

Stephanie was nervous during her first class, and she was challenged early on more than she expected. Although her performance did not initially meet her expectations, her UTI instructors’ encouraging words kept her on track. In particular, Stephanie credits Instructor Jeff Agnew, who told her not to worry and assured her she had what it took to become a good welder.

According to Stephanie, the encouragement she received across the board was a meaningful part of her education, and she’s confident other women interested in pursuing an education in a skilled trade would be treated just as well at UTI.

“The role instructors play in being open-minded and welcoming of all students will help ensure female students are included and feel like an equal to their male counterparts,” she shares. Stephanie was also welcomed by her classmates during her time at UTI.

When Stephanie’s father saw her succeed in her program and graduate, he became very supportive and is extremely proud of the work she does serving the United States.

For UTI grad Stephanie Morales, welding fused a love of craft with a love of country to create a rewarding career building Navy ships.

I believe in women, and I believe in myself. There is so much negativity out there, but I turn it into positivity to move on. If someone tells me I can’t do it, I will work even harder to prove them wrong!
Stephanie Morales, UTI Welding grad who works on ships for the Navy

Welding Ships for the Navy

After completing the Welding program at UTI, Stephanie was hired at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. Her training from UTI, along with the additional welding training specific to the needs of her current company, set her up for career success.1

Stephanie’s work is somewhat similar to the legendary work American women did during World War II, when they entered the workforce in various skilled trades to support the massive military effort to defeat the Axis powers.

Every workday, Stephanie wakes up at 3:30 a.m. and clocks in at 5 a.m. ready to ignite her torch. While most people are still asleep, Stephanie uses her skills to help build the skeleton of Navy ships vital to protecting the nation.

“It’s so rewarding watching ships leave and knowing I had a part in creating them,” she said.

Stephanie remembers a particularly exciting project in which a crane placed a side of the ship down, and she got to weld it in place. She also feels pride knowing she has earned the trust of her supervisors, who give her the space to work on projects without frequent check-ins. She takes their confidence in her as a sign that she does great work and has earned their respect.

Wise Words From a Woman in Welding

Stephanie advises others interested in a similar career path to go for it and never give up, but she warns that it can be challenging and that it requires mental and physical preparation.

“I believe in women, and I believe in myself,” she says. “There is so much negativity out there, but I turn it into positivity to move on. If someone tells me I can’t do it, I will work even harder to prove them wrong!”

As a proud female welder, Stephanie hopes her experience inspires more women to become certified welders. She recommends UTI training to obtain the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to be a welder and succeed in landing a fulfilling job.

“The instruction and certification I received from UTI prepared me to understand most things about welding that some of my other colleagues didn’t,” she said.

Stephanie envisions her future career will involve traveling the world to weld in different places and learn new processes — an idea planted by a UTI instructor who had a similar work experience. With everything she’s accomplished so far, she’s well on her way!

Get Welding Training at UTI

UTI’s 36-week Welding Technology program can provide the hands-on training needed to prepare for a career in a variety of industries, from automotive fabrication to aerospace. To learn more, visit our program page and request information to connect with one of our Admissions Representatives.

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

6) UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

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