Youngest son wants to become a welder

String&stick

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So I manage a bank. . . But I have a 23 year old customer that I've been helping with money management and planning for his future. We are a few years out from him buying a shop and mobile rig to be his own boss in our ag community.

he graduated HS and went to a welding school for 18 months. Got several certifications. From there he worked 1 year welding pipe in Tennessee for $24/hour. After that he signed on with a traveling crew that works on all sorts of things across the Midwest including factories, new construction of various industrial buildings, and ethanol plants.

Hes making $35/hour, gets $150/day per diem, and all the overtime he can handle. Right now they are working 12 hour shifts with optional Saturdays and double time Sundays. Bought a camper to live in, and one week of per deim covers "housing" another week covers food and beer. . . Kids working his ass off but making bank! When OT kicks in at 10 am Thursday every week it makes the pay checks pretty damn good!

if he gets his certs and takes pride in his work he will do just fine!
 

Brillo

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My son is a welder in W Mich will all certs. He is doing very well financially in a non union environment. He loves his job.
 

CorbLand

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For those that went through welding school. Do they teach you everything from the ground up or is it something that you need to have experience in prior?
 

huntnful

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For those that went through welding school. Do they teach you everything from the ground up or is it something that you need to have experience in prior?
The one I went to taught you from the ground up. But end goal was pipe welding for the last 6 months.

I’ve had two apprentices with ZERO welding experience and start them out on plate, and normally have them welding on pipe in a few months depending on how much they practice.
 

49ereric

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To all the naysayers yapping about $20/hour….I dare any of you to hire somebody to come out and weld something simple that is broke down in the field and then compare what they made to fix that for you to what you make. Lol


You don't need to be 798 pipeline welder to make a damn good living. Trust me.

Besides the 798 guys are a bunch of pre-madonna assholes anyhow…
Yes they are but their union contract is out of this world.
 

MTPipeliner

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Welding can be a pretty broad industry, so I’d suggest he spend some time thinking about what he wants to do. Where in the country would he like to live? Work inside or outside? Travel lots or stay in one place? Work for a company or be an independent? Union or non union?

In the pipeline industry welders are well paid and a good one can work as much as they want making good money but it can be a lot of time on the road and it’s outside work in all kinds of weather. There are fabrication welder positions in the industry that are based in a shop and you’re home each night.

Lots of welders can get a start by being a welders helper and then move into welding. Certifications can result in higher pay, for instance, the pipeline industry requires regular testing usually at the start of each project and proof that youve welded in a particular process within the last 6 months.

A final thought, lots of guys get into their 40s or 50s and find that welding has been hard on their bodies so he may want to have a plan to exit early through retirement or moving into a position like foreman, inspector, etc.
 

Quicksilver

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As mentioned earlier, If he doesn’t mind sacrificing some his time while he is young get as many certs as he can and get out into a high paying field, wherever that may lead.

If not he needs to specialize in something. Tig welding stainless or aluminum in a food processing or marine setup would probably net him his best wages for local type of outfits. I live in an agricultural county from dairy, to berries, to potatoes, to seafood. The basic arc/mig fabrication shops the wages aren’t the best and the work is dirty. The food processing environments where most of the work is tig welding is much cleaner with pay $20-$30+ and hour.

I’m a maintenance manager for a processing facility and do my share of fabrication work and tig welding on stainless. I’m still learning a lot and pay attention when the professionals are brought in. As mentioned before, ability and desire to learn, on top of self motivation and drive are huge. If your son has that then you have nothing to worry about.
 

pacoalcracker

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Over the next 20 years you are going to see a lot of mini nuclear power plants being constructed in all states as the country is being weaned off of fossil fuels gradually.....get the certs for this type pipe welding work and join your local union handling these projects..yes, they will all be union shop projects...and enjoy the benefits of a fairly clean/safe work environment since nuke plants are HIGHLY regulated, high pay and great benefits. Its not just in the construction of the mini nuke plants, but also the annual maintenance outages. Making 150K/yr working the nuke plants is a cakewalk.
 

Wvroach

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Another option, if he isn't dead set on welding alone would be a millwright apprenticeship. A lot of bigger industrial contractors, power companies etc offer apprentice programs.

He will make a little money while doing it and as a millwright he will get exposed to a large variety of industrial equipment and mechanics. Also most places that offer those programs will have their own welding school that he will get certified through.

Once he is done and has his journeyman's he will have the option to go practically anywhere in the country and secure a high paying job.
 

324matt

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I work in the trades. Welding will burn your eyes out in 20yrs. Becoming an electrician or instrument tech (plc less than 24v) is the way to go. I’m a nccco union crane operator and I’ve seen a lot in 20yrs.
Electrical tradesman are the future. Welding will be done by robots not people. Robots don’t fail x-rays, welders do.
 

Wvroach

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I work in the trades. Welding will burn your eyes out in 20yrs. Becoming an electrician or instrument tech (plc less than 24v) is the way to go. I’m a nccco union crane operator and I’ve seen a lot in 20yrs.
Electrical tradesman are the future. Welding will be done by robots not people. Robots don’t fail x-rays, welders do.
Let me see you get that robot 150 foot in the air to assemble a bucket elevator while having to weld it to a silo as you are going.

Maybe in some shops, definitely not in the field though..... Welding and industrial mechanics will always have their place secured.

Guess I got about another 5 years with my eyes as well.
 

dubllung4

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A lot of good advice so far and some not so great. The attached coursework is fine for a 2 month program to get his feet wet, learn the basics, and figure out if that’s really what he wants to do. From there, he needs to decide if he wants to stay local or travel and what industry he might want to be in. Owning your own shop sounds great but $125.00/hr isn’t that much once you start to factor overhead and all the hours you’ll be “working” unbillable. Not to mention the stress. LU798 is a great option if he wants to travel, make a ton of money, and not see his family much. One of the best options around here is a union job with a local contractor. Millwrights, sheet metal, and pipefitters all between $35-45/hr straight time around here. Paid apprenticeship, home almost every night, can travel if you want, consistent work, great benefits, and pension.

The one thing that I can’t stress enough is encourage him to take every opportunity he has and make the most of it. Our best guys (who also make the most money) didn’t get where they are by saying no. It always makes me laugh when an apprentice wants to learn to weld but spends his breaks watching TikTok when he’s surrounded by piles of scrap and hundreds of thousands in welders that he can use no questions asked. Or the guys that want to make money but say no to most every job there asked to go on because they want to be on the lake that weekend or take their girlfriend to dinner.

Try it out, see if he really like it. If he does, buckle down for 5 years and work hard, try to go wherever he’s asked and practice as much as possible. A good work ethic and the willingness to learn will take him far. Our best apprentices will make 100k/yr with a pretty good work life balance the year they bust out.
 

woods89

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The one thing that I can’t stress enough is encourage him to take every opportunity he has and make the most of it. Our best guys (who also make the most money) didn’t get where they are by saying no. It always makes me laugh when an apprentice wants to learn to weld but spends his breaks watching TikTok when he’s surrounded by piles of scrap and hundreds of thousands in welders that he can use no questions asked. Or the guys that want to make money but say no to most every job there asked to go on because they want to be on the lake that weekend or take their girlfriend to dinner.

Try it out, see if he really like it. If he does, buckle down for 5 years and work hard, try to go wherever he’s asked and practice as much as possible. A good work ethic and the willingness to learn will take him far. Our best apprentices will make 100k/yr with a pretty good work life balance the year they bust out.
Great advice. The first 5-10 years can really make or break someone coming into the trades. It's your chance to set yourself apart from everyone else. People will take notice.

I see some guys talking about running your own show, and it's absolutely true in almost all trades that there is money to be made being self employed, but learn how to run a business. Know your numbers, learn to listen to people, make it easy for them to do business with you, and learn to plan for profit. This should all be common sense stuff, but most contractors in any of the trades aren't good at all at these things, including yours truly for too long.
 
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GSPHUNTER

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned is, to be a good welder requires a lot of patients. When you first start it can be a little frustrating. One of the best welders I have ever known told me patients and getting comfortable are very important. the way he put it was, never stand up when you can sit down and never sit down when you can lay down, comfort is important when doing position welds.
 

Weldor

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If he wants to write his own ticket, get a good welding school, get certified in different types of welding, stick MIG, TIG, ECt. certified pipeline welding is a great field. I was a pipe fitter for 35+ years , Local 250 LA, and did some welding on pipeline after I got my certification.
Right on the money, Hobart is a good school to check out.
 

Weldor

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D17.1 certs will carry you along way. Good pay clean enviroment. Practice, practice, practice.
 

JoeDirt

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Former welder, that’s all I’d ever done until January of this year from the day I graduated highschool in 2014. I went to school for it at the local JC part time while working full time in a welding shop. Got my certs and did everything from galvanized horse panels to sanitary stainless piping, water well casing, and heavy structural. Bounced around half a dozen employers over the years. If I were to do it again I’d say go union as soon as he can. That’s where the money is unless you work for yourself. I enjoyed it for the most part but it took a toll on my body. I switched careers and some times I miss it but most the time I don’t. It’s not as glamorous as social media portrays it. For the most part wages are low, I didn’t make good money until my last few years doing structural. I can only imagine how my lungs look from breathing smoke, fumes, rust and dust. I now have sporadic shoulder and back issues from slinging heavy steel 60 hours a week. Not to dissuade him from pursuing it but something to keep in mind. It can be a rewarding career, but be prepared to roll your stuff up and head down the road if you can get a better offer elsewhere. Not to mention working with some questionable characters, but that can be true in any construction industry. Looking back, would I do it again? Probably not.
X2 Best advice

Im a career welder, most of my experience is in, Structural, sanitary and the high tech industry (vacuum components) I changed careers a few years ago and have not looked back.

Certs dont mean shit, because you can weld in a booth means nothing about work ethic, drive and your ability to learn. My advice if you son wants to learn welding. Just find a good job shop whos willing to train (lots are) Or join an apprenticeship. The certs can come later unusually if you need certs the employer will pay for them. Some of my best welders were just shop hands that I trained, I never hired one person than walked through my doors with a handful of certs.

Most schools ONLY teach you welding from some old washed up welder nothing else. Most of these practices they teach do not keep up with modern technology in high tech welding. There is a difference between a welder and fabricator. It helps if you can master other tools like a, saw, tube/pipe benders, press brakes, mills, lathes ect in a job shop instead of focusing on certs and schools..

Once in a job shop welding, start applying to an electrical apperiaship!!!!!
 
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Wrench

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Everyone can weld. The guy who can make a bevel cut with a torch and slag it with a welding rod, knock a root land and go is the guy you want to be quiet and pay attention to. Welding is easier than solid torchmanship in my eyes.
 

displacedtexan

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You are right about the guy that comes out with a rig and does field repairs. Rates around here are at about $80 / hour for that service, and that applies to driving time as well as actually on site. I am guessing that person has a lot more on their resume than getting their certs, plus the cost of the rig and welder. Not a bad position to be in as far as running your own business.
This is what lots of people forget...

And if that rig has a transmission issue, they have to plop down the cash to go back to work. Or if the welder breaks, or whatever.

I bill a lot by the hour, compared to what most people make. But I also have to have a lot more stuff than the commuter car that gets people back and forth to those other jobs.
 
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