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Old 05-17-2012, 11:56 AM   #1
jeremybrown9
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Default WANTED: Professional Welder

Hello everyone,
I am about to embark on something that I have wanted to do for over 15 years now - learn to weld. I will be retiring from the Army soon and moving back to the States and would like to become a welder. My questions are aimed at the people who do this for a living. Not that the hobby welder has less knowledge, but the one who does this for a living will be able to answer my questions more thoroughly.

1) What equipment is best suited for Stainless Steel and regular Steel?
2) Is it beneficial, salary-wise, to take two years and get an Associates in
Welding or to get just the Certifications needed?
3) How flooded is the job market right now with jobless welders?
4) Last but not least, How involved is it to start up your own shop?

Thank you ahead of time for all the help.

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Old 05-17-2012, 01:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremybrown9
Hello everyone,
I am about to embark on something that I have wanted to do for over 15 years now - learn to weld. I will be retiring from the Army soon and moving back to the States and would like to become a welder. My questions are aimed at the people who do this for a living. Not that the hobby welder has less knowledge, but the one who does this for a living will be able to answer my questions more thoroughly.

1) What equipment is best suited for Stainless Steel and regular Steel?
2) Is it beneficial, salary-wise, to take two years and get an Associates in
Welding or to get just the Certifications needed?
3) How flooded is the job market right now with jobless welders?
4) Last but not least, How involved is it to start up your own shop?

Thank you ahead of time for all the help.
I'm not a professional welder, but I tried to become after taking two years of courses in it in high school.

1) Hard to answer specifically. A machine that will stick weld and tig weld would be preferable. Depends on thickness of steel. I can't remember all of the details (it was 8 years ago) but if I recall correctly there were multi functions machines that could convert from stick to tig I think.

2) All my welding buddies are union, they had high school knowledge (no certs are anything) the union trains them. Wouldn't the army train you? I know you said you are retiring .... but its a thought.

3)I couldn't find a job to save my life in welding 8 years to go, could be because I did not have any certs tho.

4) Again, depends on the shop. Are we talking about out of the garage or full scale fabrication/machine shop?


Welding is fun, I still love to do little projects in the garage. Look into local community colleges or even high schools that have occupational programs. Usually cheap to get in, and if you decide you don't like it, won't take up that much of your time. If you want to make some big bucks look in to under water welding.
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Old 05-17-2012, 02:27 PM   #3
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what type of welding are you looking to get into? machines/automotive//bodywork? structural/buildings? food/pharmaceutical? air/space craft? marine/under water? just general purpose repair work?

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Old 05-17-2012, 09:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by audger View Post
what type of welding are you looking to get into? machines/automotive//bodywork? structural/buildings? food/pharmaceutical? air/space craft? marine/under water? just general purpose repair work?
If you intend on getting any real work, you should look into getting certified. If you don't, you will be making brew stands (not all that bad). See audger's response above.

I would purchase a tig welder (heli-arc) for stainless. There are so many different applications for steel by itself that I cannot recommend another unit. Your question is somewhat general regarding what equipment you should buy. I suggest first taking a CC course and trying out flashburn at least one time and asking the instructor about the field. J/K, don't look into the light.
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:42 PM   #5
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I've been a certified welder, or " professional", for about 10 years now. My best advice would be to get an associate's degree from your local community college. That will teach you a lot about the trade, the majority is learned through experience though. And as far as the job market for certified welders goes you basically pick your job. There are plenty people that claim they can weld, but the certification is a must in this line of work.

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Old 05-18-2012, 05:34 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the responses. I plan on going to my CC and take the classes they offer, just wasn't sure if the Associates was necessary. They have other programs in welding that cert you for specific things, ex. MIG, TIG, Plate, etc. As far as what kind of welding, I hadn't really thought that far yet. I am toying with the idea of opening my own shop, but unsure of what kind of services to offer. Basically a do-it-all local welder. My SWMBO even suggested doing brewing gear/stands to test the market. That would mean internet/mail order and I'm not sure I want to get into all that.

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Old 05-19-2012, 01:41 AM   #7
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jeremybrown9

I have been in the welding business for 22 years so I think I can give you some advice.

To answer your questions...

1. Miller, and Lincoln make the best machines in the business for manual TIG.
Inverters are the latest and greatest machines for manual welding. Most are multi-process. Meaning they can handle TIG, and stick and some will even do MIG also.

2. If you are thinking of starting your own business an associates will not be that much of a benefit.
I suggest you enroll in either Hobart Institute, Tulsa Welding, or Lincoln Welding School.
These are the top welding schools in the country, and you can take specific classes or complete a whole program. Hobart Institute for example offers a combination welder program that takes 9 months to complete and is 1260 hours of training. If you complete the course you will walk away with 3 certifications. The short answer is certifications for a welder is like a degree for a college grad. The thing is there are so many certifications no welder can have all of them, but more you have the better.
When you are certified you are qualified to weld on a certain grade or grades of metals with a certain group of filler metal(welding rod) and in certain positions.

3. Employment depends on the area you live in, but overall welders are in demand more than ever. Since all the baby boomers are retiring and most people nowadays choose to go to college than in the trades, there is a shortage of welders right now.

4. Any type of metal working tools or equipment are expensive. You can start off small with 10 to 30 thousand which I suggest or if you could get a million dollar loan you still wouldn't have everything out there for metal working.
I think you should find an experienced partner hopefully that you can trust that knows the business. You have to know how to bid a job so that you don't undercut yourself and you certainly don't want to price yourself so high that nobody will do business with you.
Hourly rates vary from region to region. Some shops charge 50 to 60 per hour, and can go to 3 to 4 times that for specialized mobile work.

Hope this helps.

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Old 05-19-2012, 01:49 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by bellam87 View Post
I've been a certified welder, or " professional", for about 10 years now. My best advice would be to get an associate's degree from your local community college. That will teach you a lot about the trade, the majority is learned through experience though. And as far as the job market for certified welders goes you basically pick your job. There are plenty people that claim they can weld, but the certification is a must in this line of work.
You've been certified since you were 15?

That's impressive!
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Old 05-19-2012, 05:51 AM   #9
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Wow, lots to digest. Thank you all for the info. That helps quite a bit. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. Time to brew and drink about it.

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Old 05-19-2012, 07:26 AM   #10
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I work in South Texas. I see all of the trucks with welders on them and I would venture to guess about 200-300 a day pass me. That does not include the trucks that come from north i.e. San Antonio. For oil field work there are tons of weldors working. I would imagine any location with an oil/natural gas boom there would be high demand for work. So look into South Texas, and North Dakota.

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