View Full Version : Career Change
11-01-2006, 08:46 PM
I posted this question on the AWS forum and so far no one's replied so I thought I'd try here.
I was wondering if anyone here had ever made a later life career change to welding? I'm currently in an electronics(public safety two-way radio) field in a supervisory posistion for a local government operation. I really don't like the job much anymore, too much politics,personality issues and a possiblity of losing the job to outsourcing. I've been in this business 30 years (I'm 47) but I'm thinking it may be time for a change.I'm missing working with my hands. I am experienced in mechanical,electrical and electronics.I've always liked the trades and welding has always interested me since it seems to be not only a profession but an art form. I've been looking around at training and job or business opportunities. I'd be interested to hear if anyone hear has done something simular,what type of training they took and what sucess and pitfalls they've had.
11-01-2006, 09:08 PM
Well you might not like my perspective but here it is....:) I wanted to get out of the IT field so I decided to learn to weld. Took some classes for the basic's, i.e. stick, mig, tig.....then went around trying to find a shop to work at as an entry level welder. Not much luck....unless I wanted to work for minimum wage for who knows how long..!! I understand the entry level mentality of the employer so I wasn't necessarily put off by that. What I was put off by was the, shall we call it "the attitude", of many potential employers. i.e. Many just weren't willing to "teach" a beginner the skills necessary for being a good welder. I can empathize with that attitude as it costs money and time to bring someone up to speed to do the quality of work you want done. But then again if the employer only wants a "drone" type worker then that's what they will hire....god forbid you are over 30 and have a brain and ask questions...:)
So my advice....unless you've got a ****load of money in the bank to live on, you own your house, and have no bills.....keep your current job!! I guarantee you it pays better than any "entry" level welding job out there..:) Since I, myself, do not meet the aforementioned criteria, I had to stay in the IT field and just weld as a hobby. Now if I was 25 again, as opposed to being 54, I might have stuck out it out....but the practical side is I needed a better income.
Don't kid yourself by the way.....being over 45 and heading towards 50 has it's downside. You aren't a kid anymore, you probably make potential employers nervous since you can talk in complete sentences, and you probably won't put up with **** a kid might...:)
Take my opinion for what it's worth.....:)
11-01-2006, 09:20 PM
There are several apprentices in our local unions that are in their 50s and thereabouts. Seems that if you are even somewhat qualified, they like to take you to make their numbers look good to the equal-opportunity statisticians.
11-01-2006, 09:47 PM
LOL...well I guess I'll have to leave Oregon and head to 'Vegas....:) Around here you're lucky to make $12.00 an hour for any welding job....journeyman included...:)
Apprenticeships around here don't exist.....kinda tells you the state of mind for the local employers doesn't it...:)
11-01-2006, 09:51 PM
Starting at the bottom at age 47?:nono:
i'm 48 and would never make the change over to what you do...and make it work...
welding takes years of experience...
its your choice...
11-01-2006, 10:28 PM
since you're computer inclined, maybe you'd be interested in learning machine control programming which is very interesting in itself and can be applied to welding in many situations. You may get your foot in the door by doing maintenance technician work on production line equipment, and expand into a specialty with programming and/or working with automated welding.
11-01-2006, 10:56 PM
I've consdered that angle.....problem is getting one's foot in the door...:) I think I just make the people doing the hiring nervous....I can acutally think, I show up for work on time, and I still have ambition...:)
Any suggestions as to how myself or any other person considering these types of positions should approach a potential employer...let us know. I'm more than willing to accept help and suggestions...!!
11-01-2006, 11:14 PM
I guess it really depends on what you want to do. I wouldn't suggest diving in without without a safety net. Though, easing in and figuring out what you want to do could work.
Why work for somebody else?
I was a chemist for 10 yrs and a teacher for 4 yrs. I learned to weld while working for the state as a chemist. The state paid for a classes at a state school, so I took welding. I collected equipment for several years. I got my business license after my first year of teaching. I welded during the summers. Before my fifth year of teaching I told my wife I did not want to teach anymore. My wife said, Okay. A bold, powerful move of faith on her part considering we hadn't made $5000 gross prior to going full time. Income has increased each year. This year we will gross more than 80K. That is doing 99 percent of the work alone. We have been in business for 7 yrs.
Look at what you can do for yourself. Welding is a process, there are many applications. If you work for yourself, then you must be able to fabricate as well as weld. I do mostly "cookie cutter" ornamental stuff. I call it cookie cutter because it contains lots of similar looking stuff with preformed purchased parts.
Work for the low wage if you are learning something and going places. I worked for a guy one summer, I made $7/hr. I learned a lot and knew I could do it for myself.
God bless you
11-01-2006, 11:34 PM
Excellent suggestion..!! I ran my own IT company for 12 years....made some serious money....market changed and I've had to start over again. Not fun at 54, but nobody said life was fun all the time...:) I'm stubborn....I don't like to give up.....:)
This discussion topic should be of interest to everyone who frequents this board. It goes to show that skill sets need to change, to be added too, and that if you can get a group of people who have ideas and vision together and talking....you might just develop a concept that could lead to a "new" company that could provide a good living for all those who are willing to pitch in and amek it a reality.!!
I have never been good at "believing" those who say it can't be done....I'm the guy who says we just haven't figured out how to do it yet...:)
11-04-2006, 11:11 AM
Thanks for everyone's input.
IT, in fact I did like your perspective. I wanted to hear all sides before I make any career choice.
Tapwelder, Thanks for your encouragement. What you did with your business sounds interesting. Something like that may be a path for me.I'd like to hear more about it. I also do have retirement coming from my current position in a few years. Maybe with some training and hobby welding I might be able to do something like you did by the time I decide to take retirement.
Again Thanks to all.
11-04-2006, 06:14 PM
I think Tapwelder hit it square on the head. Awesome insight and advice, Chief!
I spent 8 years on submarines, got out and worked in the nuclear industry for a few years, and have been working in the QC Lab at a chemical plant for 16 years (the last 6 as a supervisor) and I'm 43 years old. I'm only 6 or 7 classes shy of an A.S. in Networking Technologies (IT), but came to the realization that, while I love working with computers and I'm pretty good at it, I'm just not sure that's what I wanted to do with my life.
Then along came welding...
I took an adult ed welding class two years ago at the local community college and had a blast. I bought a little stick machine and a little MIG machine earlier this year and played around pretty successfully in the garage with them (and have had a lot of fun), but decided that I should probably learn how to do it the correct way, so this past summer I entered the welding program at that same community college. I'm sick of working for ****-poor managers and watching them make the big bucks between salary and bonus while I'm lucky if I get a 3% raise each year (yeah, I know...it's like that everywhere). I want to have skills that will allow me to work for myself in a few years, after my wife gets her MBA. I'll either prove that I can manage a business better than some of the chuckleheads I deal with or I'll flame out in fine fashion, but at least I'll make the attempt.
Life is full of risk. I may be able to make this happen; then again, I may not. But I'll at least have those skills to make money with, whether it's working for myself (full time or side jobs) or someone else, and those skills will be mine for the rest of my life. And it's also something I really enjoy doing which is a feeling I haven't experienced for a number of years now.
Stay with the schooling and have fun with it. If it pays off that will just be the icing on the cake.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
11-04-2006, 08:21 PM
I'm 37, and was let go back in august, truss designer of 6 years. 2 weeks ago I started as welder trainee. I've wanted to learn the art, the company is one of the best around here to work for, And I'm getting paid more than anyone was willing to pay me with 6 years under the belt. I'm like you, really missed working with my hands. The hardest adjustment for me is keeping a steady hand, I've had to run 12' long beads. I do do a lot of standing around and observing cause its a plant not a welding school. Time will tell if I stick it out as a profession. But I love that I'm learning a skill I can bring home to the garage someday.
11-06-2006, 01:10 PM
Just happened on this thread - great discussion! I'm 44 and still figuring out my next move!
A little background; I started metalworking as a 15 year old HS shop rat - took all the metals (metal fab/forging/casting) and machine classes which landed me a job in a machine shop as a JR. Really loved it, decided to push on a bit after manual machining in a tool/gauge house for almost 7 years & started CNC operation and setup. This led to hitting the books again at a local CC and into a first process engineering/CNC programming position. It's also where I took a few welding courses. After a few more mfg engineering positions (working and school at same time) - mainly in machining arena - I finished off my BSET degree. That was 1997. More recent positions have grown into more project management roles and further away from “hands on”. I was and am VERY fortunate to learn from some pretty amazing people along the way.
Then in 2003 - I got a little (ok, a lot) burned out. I decided to quit my job for a 1 yr sebaticle. Long story short - I'm now back in the "white" collar world - and if I learned one thing in my time off - it's that I miss the hands on work. As recently as 2001/2002, I had some hands on in all jobs which was nice. Tired of the politics, decisions being made by idiots, those passing themselves off as experts having read a few articles and the general corporate life, I’m still wondering my next move as well, which led me back to welding and metal fab as a hobby. Where will it lead? I don’t know at this point. If I went back to CNC programming/machining (or at least a job with more hands on) would I be happier? I may give it a go.
I’ve also had visions of going it alone with a few machines and, hopefully after a bit of time, some sharpened up welding and fab skills. At least as far as a way to scratch out some doe as retirement comes along. This forum is proving to be an invaluable resource in that regard.
Sorry for the long-winded history, think I got a little off track. I guess my point is, there are many of us out there considering career switches/changes in direction. Maybe it’s natural. I would encourage anyone thinking along these lines to look at the big picture. Does it make financial sense? Would you really be happier going it alone? Do you have to re-commit to hitting the books first? Would taking a hobby, such as this, to a “job” level make it as much fun? Timing in life? I say – never stop challenging yourself or just “settling” for the status quo, do what makes you happy and makes sense – just make sure you’re wise in your moves.
Just wanted to vent and post some thoughts – great discussion!
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