Welding Career Advice

One of the comments on a recent welding video asked about my welding career.

So I thought that might be interesting for young welders starting out, to hear about how I got started and along the way, I hope to give some good advice for any young welder.

I got into welding by accident….a fluke…maybe even a twist of fate.

After high school, I didnt have a plan.  So like a lot of folks,  I enrolled in a local college.

Maybe I was just too immature at the time but college wasn't for me. 

I felt very lost.  I couldn't see any progress .

So I tried to enroll in the auto mechanic program at a local tech college.

But that program was full…It had a waiting list to get it.

But as fate would have it, I moved across the street from the welding instructor at that school.

"I cant help you with auto mechanics, but I can get you into the welding program”  he told me.

I said "lets do it."

I didn't know the first thing about welding, had never even seen a puddle, had not even read any books.

But on day one, I liked it.

I could see progress almost by the hour.

And other students were getting good paying jobs with less than a year of school.

I was pumped.

My first welding experience was while I was still in school.

My instructors encouraged some of us to work at a local shop that was hiring while we were on a 5 week break from school.

He told us “dont tell them you only intend to work for 5 weeks …and dont worry, you will probably outlast most of their new hires anyway because its kind of a sweat shop”.

So during that winter break, I  welded on high strength steel supports in a shop that had zero ventilation in the winter.

I sat on a bucket and burned 3/16” 11018 rods for 10 hours a day.

It was great experience and  it sucked at the same time. mainly because of no ventilation.

So I finished up school, at least to the point where I could pass a pipe welding test and I went to work.

I spent about 13 years in the pipe trade working on several different nuclear plants, paper mills, and fab shops.

And then, my wife wanted to move closer to her father who had just been diagnosed with cancer.

So I began putting out feelers for another job and wound up hiring on as a welder at Delta AirLines TechOps which is Delta's Maintenance base in Atlanta GA.

I spent 21 years at Delta and during that time I worked as a welder, then became welding instructor and certifier, and then metallurgical lab technician, and then program manager of welding training.

And during that time, I got my CWI and SCWI credentials.

It was a great career...until it wasn't.

I started weldingtipsandtricks.com in 2007 for 2 reasons.

1. to get my head back in the welding game after being disillusioned by corporate politics

2. I needed an Exit Strategy from Delta Air Lines Technical Operations so I could create a better future for my family.

So here I am.

And here is my Welding Career advice for any welding student or young welder

What can a young welding student starting out learn from all this as it applies to their welding career?

  • get everything you can out of your time at school. Weld with every different piece of equipment that you can and ask lots of questions.
  • get some experience any way you can…even if you have to take a crappy job or even a welders helper job..
  • respect old timers and earn their respect…they have knowledge that you need.
  • don't be afraid to pivot during your career and leverage your welding skills and knowledge into a different industry, or a career in sales, education, or management.