Welding…Spread the Word!

As welding professionals, we’re fortunate to have rewarding careers. But many people don’t know about the vast number of options in our wide-ranging trade. You can help them discover those possibilities.

AWS Publications | April 14, 2022 | Careers and Education
Welding Digest ►  Welding…Spread the Word!

As welding professionals, we’re fortunate to have rewarding careers. But many people don’t know about the vast number of options in our wide-ranging trade. You can help them discover those possibilities.

As a first-generation American, I can truly say this is the land of opportunity. My mother emphasized education and work ethic. My father taught me the value of having a trade and enjoying your work. My brothers, sisters, and husband helped me understand compromise and consensus building. All were handy tools in my career, which started after I discovered welding.

Photo 1-Apr-14-2022-06-04-47-96-PM

Teresa Melfi

 

People learn about welding in different ways. I was fortunate that my high school was near Lincoln Electric’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, so the school system had a very nice welding program. Young people experience welding at home; in clubs; or in middle school, high school, or trade schools. Some find welding after military service or even while in prison. That exposure, along with some encouragement, is often the path to a welding career.

 

Welding as a Career

We tend to think of welding as a trade but not as a career. Some people have the skills to be great welders, but even those of us who aren’t golden-arm welders can have a great career in welding. Programming robots, nondestructive examination, training, inspection, fitting, and engineering are all equally important career paths in the welding field. A welder can also be a union member, an artist, an owner-operator, a teacher, an entrepreneur, and a metallurgist. My career has taken me through several of these, and it’s been a great ride. Technology is changing quickly in the welding industry, and after decades, I’m still learning something new.

But how do people find a career in welding? That’s where each of us plays a role. My Uncle Tom worked for the American Bureau of Shipping and encouraged me to pursue a career in welding. I was fortunate to receive loans and scholarships to help with my studies. Today there are many sources of funding available; we just need to point people in the right direction. The American Welding Society (AWS) Foundation is a great resource (aws.org/foundation/page/about-the-aws-foundation). Local AWS chapters are also places to find encouragement and even funding for education and training. Union apprenticeship programs provide great training while providing full-time jobs.

 

Pass the Torch

The past couple of years have made many of us think about where we are in our lives. I have to grin when I think about the unlikely path my career has taken and how I even ended up in the welding industry. If you are in a position to do so, take a chance on someone. I wasn’t a typical welder and even needed to stand on a box to reach most welding booths. If you are starting out, don’t give up. Soon, you will look back and grin about the challenges. It can be a fun ride, too.

Finally, each of us needs to be a preacher, spreading the good word about welding. I challenge everyone to share what a good life you can have in welding. You can become a mentor and help guide someone’s welding career. You can talk to friends and neighbors about welding. You can help someone prepare for a pipefitter (https://ua.org/) or boilermaker (https://boilermakers.org/) apprenticeship exam. You can show up for career day, even in elementary schools. Or you can proudly wear your AWS or union gear. Do it for yourself; you’ll feel better. Do it for someone else; you can change a life. Do it for the industry; become an ambassador for welding!

 

This article was written by Teresa Melfi (technical fellow at The Lincoln Electric Co.) for the American Welding Society.