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What can I expect from a welding career?

To anyone in the welding field who has chosen this field may I know a blessing or horror story? I want to know what I'm walking into.

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Matt’s Answer

All sound advise so far. I would like to walk you thru my perspective as a welder/fitter for 13 years now.

I started out in a 4 year college straight out of high school and claimed a major in music education. After the first couple of years I found that I did not want that as my career path but it was too late to turn back. I wound out dropping out and entering the work force in the food industry. A number of years later it was apparent that I had reached my top pay as a general manager of the restaurant and could barely pay for myself to live off of that little of pay.

I say all of this to say this: You can enter this trade at any time. I wish I had started right out of high school in the trade, however, I don’t regret the experiences I have had along the way in other trades.

I decided to drop out of management and go to a 2 year college to attempt an associates in welding technology. I graduated summa cum laude and have never regretted that decision to this day. If you like working with your hands, creating things from scratch, figuring out puzzles, and making a good earning in the meantime…consider this trade. But remember, you absolutely do not have to come out of the gate swinging a TIG rig over your head.
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Glen’s Answer

Caveat - Welding is not my industry.

Generally speaking though, there are lots of contexts that can make or break a specific trade for you. For example, you might be a welder in a shop, or you might work with a mechanic in the field, or you might be a diver working on ships and oil rigs.

I might focus on what sort of work you want and see if you can find/follow/connect with people who are doing what you want to do.

For example - Kurtis from https://www.cuttingedgeengineering.com.au/about-cutting-edge-engineering-australia.html

He has a strong YouTube presence, runs his own shop, and was a former field mechanic. His welding skills are impressive but it's only part of what he does - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPqAeMIJIxU
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STACY’s Answer

Hello, I have been a welder for the last 10 years and love it. In this field you will learn different process of welding. Depending on what you would like to get into and location of where you go to school. There is Shielding Metal Arc Welding which is something that is done on the pipe line. You have Gas Metal Arc Welding which is commonly taught and easy to learn, there is spot welding which doesn't require and helmet. There is Gas Tungsten Arc Welding which is difficult to learn because of multiple things going on at once (torch, filler metal and foot pedal). You can pick a production job as well as fabrication. You can choose to travel if you would like and get paid for it. You can join the local union and they train you through their program. You can learn welding just to become a Inspector. Welding is like a entry level for so many different areas. Engineering is one of them.
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Agustin’s Answer

Your daily duties will be determined by your industry and what weld process you are doing. In general it is a very physically demanding job. Welding can be very rewarding, but also very demanding. Every place I have worked in where I have welded has been in a non temperature controlled shop. There might be some air conditioning, but since the shops are big they aren't kept at any classroom temperatures. A nice welding job is a job where you are mostly welding, and not fabricating. Welding is the easy part, before you can weld you have to first cut/grind and fabricate everything. The fabrication part is where there is a lot of metal dust, calculations, material handling and preparation. If Livermore is an accessible area for you to get to I would strongly recommend trying to get a job with Advantage Metal Products, that is an easy place to get your start. They will require you to be able to weld .065 aluminum/steel so it can be difficult when you're new. After 3-6 months there you will have a much better understanding if you like the type of work. I would generally equate it to working construction. The type of coworkers you will have will basically be blue collar/construction workers. The place you work will strongly dictate the work you do and if you like the place. Welding is a skill and also an art. If you work in a "sanitary" TIG welding position you will need to learn to "walk the cup" to make your welds as smooth as possible. This type of weld is used for food conveyors and freezers etc. The point of the smooth welds is to reduce the area where bacteria can fester. I have also worked in building boat docks. That was spool-gun aluminum welding, it was very similar to mig welding. This process was extremely smoky and I'm sure I was ingesting a ton of toxic fumes daily. Welding Galvanized is the worse thing for your health, look into that. You can however also work in aerospace stuff like turbine engines for planes. I don't have experience in that, but I imagine that is a more relaxed and meticulous pace. At West Coast Cryogenics the pace was full speed the whole time, it was insane. Working in an organized/big welding shop is nice, but they also pay you less because they know the job is easier and more comfortable. If you're able to get into a welding class/shop that would be the best thing you could do. I don't think you could really get a feel for being a welder without working in a welding shop for 3-6 months though. If you're serious about getting into welding, I say learn to TIG weld and try to get a job at Advantage Metal Products. That would be an intermediate difficulty of welding, but no fabrication. Good luck on your journey. I am open to more messages in the future of course.
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