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Meet Kirstie Wolfe, An Instrument Technician

I was working in the bar industry at night and taking care of my child during the day. I knew I wanted and needed to find something more stable to take care of him and myself. A friend of mine was working at a chemical plant and told me they were hiring for a labor hand. I told him if he could get me in, I didn’t care what I did as long as it was something. I was hired and that’s where I first learned to drive a forklift, scissor lift, and a man-lift. I was also on shift work which was tough being a single mother. I started looking into what career could I do in the plants that would get me off of shift work.

A friend of mine told me about an Instrument Technician. I’ve never heard of it (like most women I talk to). He told me they made good money, had straight days, and didn’t have to travel. I went right to San Jacinto College, signed up, and had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was it could possibly lead me to a better career. So, my plant later caught wind of me going to school in the instrumentation program and I started an apprenticeship program where I would go to school full time and work full time but I only got that opportunity because the maintenance manager at the time wanted to do this program. I was the first and only female person in maintenance at that facility. None of the guys wanted me there, they thought they had to change everything about them, and they fought to not have me move over to maintenance.

So, as time goes by I graduated from San Jac College with my degree and also became NCCER certified in Instrumentation. I had no clue what I was doing but I worked very hard to learn by the book and my craft in the field. I’m talking I didn’t know bolts came in different sizes (haha)! I then became pregnant with my second child and there is no light duty with I/E, so I had to quit my job since I was working there as a contractor (not in house).

Fast forward to now, I have been with Linde for a year and a half and I do Instrument, Electrical, And Analytical (analyzers). I help with projects and get to hire my own contractors. I am still the only female tech here in the southern region. I have come a very long way from where I started. I still have a long way to go but the progress I have made has been tremendous. I want to reach out to as many women as I can because I'm sure so many don't know about this great career (like I didn't) and it has truly changed my life.

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