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Advice to welders-to be?

 
pollinator
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Hey guys, I'm getting a welding certificate after high school to earn money for land. What advice do you have for such a greenhorn?
 
pollinator
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Lot's of advise possible, but what are you wanting to do with welding?  Are you doing projects to sell, side jobs to pick up extra cash, a short term profession?

If you are young, single, and mobile, West Texas pipeline.  Walk on as a welder's helper.  Work your way into a welding position.  $30/hr straight time, with many hours of overtime.  It is possible to make six figures a year after a year or two working into a position.  Live cheap.  Bank 75% of your paycheck.  Keep your self clean (lot's of bad habits in pipeline camps.)  In very short order you will have cash, not just a down payment, for any piece of land you want.  Then you can decide if welding is something you want to do long term; or start in a new direction.  Welding skills are good to have, regardless of your path/s in in life.

Don't start on drugs.  Easy on the partying.  Save as much as possible on a daily basis.  Live happily ever after.  Many many of your peers are starting careers 100k in debt with questionable skills or credentials.  In the same 4-6 years, you can have your land or dreams, be debt free; and ready to start living your dreams before you reach 30.

Food for thought.
 
Huxley Harter
pollinator
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Should have specified. I'm thinking either independent contractor or short term jobs <1 month so I can find a climate that I really like. I guess short term profession is a good way to say it. Florida is great with pros and cons, everywhere is. Just looking for where I fit best with them.
 
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if you gonna do it get every certification you can
i know a young guy who gets flown to saudi arabia for a month at a time, he makes so much that he only has to work 4 or 5 months a year to provide for his wife and himself in a very handsome fashion.
 
Jack Edmondson
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If you are thinking of being an independent, then definitely become an expert at print reading.  Often overlooked in cert programs because everyone wants to get a stinger in their hand.  But as as contractor you will eat your mistakes, not your employer.  Prints are often not clear or even incomplete.  Learn to recognize quickly exactly what the client wants, and what might be missing; so you can ask questions and get clarity before you start.  Unhappy clients, even when it is their fault, don't generate a lot of repeat business or good referrals.  

Not to be a safety Sally, but pay attention during shop orientation and safety briefs.  Learn how to turn a valve off and on properly.  A gulp of Argon can end your life.  An unchained cylinder is a live grenade without the pin.  Welding flash from your co-workers has a cumulative and long term effect on visual acuity.  So do fumes on your lungs.  (wait until your first bout of zinc flu.)  A lot of young people, as I was, are guilty of taking their safety and that of their peers for granted.  A lot of seemingly innocuous things can make people dead.  It is can be very safe.  But people can be very careless.  Don't be that guy.  Learn to recognize 'that guy' working around you.  /soap box.  

 
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Jack gave you some good advice!  There is a difference between a trade school welder and one who broke out after learning as a welder's helper.  I'm not knocking trade schools but many would be better off going from trade school to helping a little while.  You can learn the etiquette and procedures of a job site and an older hand can keep you from getting hurt and possibly keep you alive.  There are also a lot of tricks and shortcuts to learn.  JMO  It's a great living but not a great life.  Try not to do it into your 60's
 
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Jack's advice is fantastic.
Take it in the keester for a year and stay out of trouble.

Curiously i just opened aJames lee burke novel.
Quote: "like many my age, i believe people in groups are to be feared and that arguing with others is folly and the knowledge of one generation cannot be passed down to the next."
 
pollinator
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Welding is a skill based type of job, so just never compromise.

If it did not look right to me, I cut it out and started over. It only took a few years of that for me to get a good reputation, and get the more lucrative jobs (missile silos, and hulls)

Just do not listen to your coworkers. They will say, "you are working your way out of a job", but in the 26 years I welded, I never once did. And people will say, "you are the reason we do not have overtime (because you are working)", and I would reply, "and you are the reason we do not have more ships to weld." And they will say, "Oh this place will ruin you", in regards to their laziness, and I always said, "Only if you let it". And I always had Union Jobs where working was highly discouraged.

I welded for a career and I was making 6 figures in the end, sometimes making $1.50 a minute building US Navy Destroyers. My specialty was mirror welding, but I could weld steel, aluminum, cast iron, inconel, copper-nickel, and armor plate.

 
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Get any training you can, and as much practice as you can.  It takes time to learn to weld properly.  For any welding, wear appropriate eye protection - you'll see some old-timers gas welding without dark goggles/glasses which is not a good idea.  ANY kind of electric arc welding you NEED a proper dark filter.  Apart from the bright light it gives off a lot of UV.  If you're a nutter like me welding in a T-shirt, expect to get sunburn on your arms

but seriously, unless it's crazy hot weather, wear long sleeves and avoid synthetics that can melt or go on fire easily, and leather welding gloves.
 
Jack Edmondson
pollinator
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Huxley,

Have you found Jody on Welding Tips and Tricks yet?  He is a lifelong welder.  He was in aerospace as an Inspector for one of the major airlines before he retired and started his own job shop.  I like his videos because he focuses on helping guys understand and pass the different tests they will encounter to advance their skills.  He is a good instructor.  His approach is prepare people for real world scenarios; and make them better welders.  You might spend some time with his videos.  It will give you not only an idea of the different challenges you will face; but exposure to some of the industries and options out there to explore.

youtube site

Another resource that you may find helpful is this young man.  He works as a fabricator, so has a variety of topics.  He sounds like he was on the job trained and shares what he has learned in a job shop environment.  He has a lot of skill for someone so young.  

5th St. Fab
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