Career Change at 43
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    North Chesterfield
    Posts
    3

    Career Change at 43

    I would like to hear opinions, good and bad, on making a career change to welding at the ripe old age of 43. Some basic facts, I have a college degree in Accounting and doing consulting. I currently live in North Chesterfield, Virginia. I've never welded or done any metal fabrication but was always amazed by the process of taking a chunk of metal and turning into something. Same thing with wood and I've done a lot of woodworking, but feel metal has more opportunities for making an income vs. wood. So do you think I'm crazy?
    Last edited by vasman; 06-06-2012 at 12:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Deltaville, VA
    Posts
    2,903

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Not nearly enough information to make recommendations.

    What is your degree in?

    Are you currently employed?

    Have you ever done any welding?

    Are you financially prepared to go without income for an extended "learning" period?

    Welding, like any skilled trade, requires considerable training/experience before you're "employable".

    As a new poster, you'll find that you "get as much out of a post/question as you put in". Quite frankly, you haven't put forth much effort so far.
    Syncro 250 DX
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    Access to a full fab shop with CNC Plasma, Water Jet, etc.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    North Chesterfield
    Posts
    3

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Sundown,

    Thanks for the reply. I've updated my original post. I can weather the short term financial shortfall. I will attend and get the certification from the local junior college or trade school first, but I just want to see if this is something I can make a career or should I just think of it as an expensive hobby?

    vasman

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Deltaville, VA
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    2,903

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Not to be frank, but yes, I think you're crazy.

    Take the welding courses offered by the community college. Buy an AC/DC stick welder and start practicing. After that, you'll most likely want to move to a mig and start "building things".

    By training (and education) I'm an engineer. My BS is in Civil Engineering and MS is in Industrial Engineering. I've been involved in welding/fabrication for a long time, but never had to rely on it for my "primary income". I have "retired" twice from different professions, and now run a small fabrication shop focused primarily on marine repair/fabrication.

    I (and my shop) are located in Deltaville, about 1hr 20min, from Chesterfield. You're more than welcome to stop by and see (first hand) the different processes (Stick, Mig, Tig) involved in welding. If interested, drop me a PM and we''ll find a time convenient for both.
    Syncro 250 DX
    Dynasty 200 DX
    MM 251 w/30A SG
    XMT 304 w/714 Feeder & Optima Pulser
    HH187
    Dialarc 250 AC/DC
    Hypertherm PM 1250
    Smith, Harris, Victor O/A
    Smith and Thermco Gas Mixers
    Access to a full fab shop with CNC Plasma, Water Jet, etc.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    North Chesterfield
    Posts
    3

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Sundown,

    I'll PM you, but thanks for being frank and honest as this is the feed back I am looking to hear.

    Anybody else with an opinion?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Rome GA. (NW GA.)
    Posts
    762

    Re: Career Change at 43

    If it is something you are dead set on doing then go for it. I would really look at what is available in your area job wise. Some places can be hard to find anything but production work. That could be on a line welding the same tab on a part by the thousands. A lot of temp agency has those jobs for $10 or so an hour. It takes a long time to learn and get yourself to a position to be in a job shop. If you are willing to travel it may open up more. I am 43 and currently in college to get my degrees. My major is business admin. I made a career change in 98 from being a truck driver to getting into Fire and EMS. Been a paramedic since 2001. Spent 10 years as a truck driver. Its always a big step changing career paths, not a step to be taken lightly. Being a welder can mean long hours in very hot conditions or extremely cold conditions. Spring and Fall dont last very long where it is comfortable. You might want to look into making it a hobby at first and as you learn start doing payed jobs. It will give you a chance to see if you really want to make the change. Good luck.
    Making as much progress as a one legged duck in the middle of a pond, just going in circles.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Cave Creek AZ
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    1,526

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Follow the advice given, it is good. I made it my career at the age of about 37, but I have always built things with my hands, and welding/metal work was my hobby. I startd building things on the side, and only left my corporate job after I was working there all day and coming home and working until very late every night and weekends and had lots of work lined up.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Leesville (outside Columbia),SC
    Posts
    103

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Good luck with your decision. I'm in a similar situation and going hobby with hopes of making money route. Seems like accounting could be a good paying career, why are you looking for a change?

    Walker, how did you learn your pricing, being it sounds like you have always been self employed?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Cave Creek AZ
    Posts
    1,526

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Tom, no I worked for the gas utility for many years. I left when I decided I wanted to try doing my hobby full time. It started out slow with small jobs, I got a retail tax license to sell things. Then the things got bigger and I got a contractors license so that I could legitimately install the things I made.
    As far as pricing, it all depends on what you make. For every type of thing there is a factor based on materials used. You have to figure out your own though, as you would do things vastly different than I do. It is not my primary factor in pricing though. I price things based on materials cost, time involved, expected warranty, time in finishing, time installing, difficulty in installing. I use my materials factor as a sort of check factor to make sure I didn't forget anything. My material factor is between 3 and 4 usually, though sometimes it is 10 and sometimes it is 2.
    If you figured out the cost of materials for a basic handrail job, and multiplied it by 2 you would likely do okay, so long as you have all the tools, and have a pretty good idea what you are doing. You will not make a great deal of profit though. Another check factor is to see what others are bidding for the same thing. I run across other peoples bids on jobs I am bidding on from time to time. It is good to see their pricing, but I don't base my price on theirs.
    After doing this for some years now, I have a customer base. I do work primarily for the same 6-8 contractors and designers, with a handful of other first time customers.
    Another interesting thing that has happened, is that I primarily do upscale residetial work, and I have found that the price, to them, isn't really the sticking point. The want good quality samples, free of charge, quickly, and of exactly what they want, not pictures of a past similar job. I am bidding a job right now for a referral from one f my contractors. They wanted to see some of the brackets that they want, as well as some of the stair balusters, then they wanted them changed, then the finish changed. There has been no money change hands as yet, and I likely have $150 into it. I will likely get the job, but it is not a sure thing, it will be a $12000 dollar job. I have never made a lot of samples and not gotten the work though. I have made drawings and pictures and not gotten the work, and seen my drawings built by someone else though.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Leesville (outside Columbia),SC
    Posts
    103

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Walker, thanks for the info. My question stems from a tree service venture I got in to a few years ago. I learned how to do the work, but not properly bid the job. I either made a killer profit or lost my behind. One of the disadvantages of not having worked for someone first. I've been a specialty contractor for the past 12 years or so. Specializing in small out buildings and the occasional deck or roofing job. Burned out on competing against the illegals and giant corporations. Funny what you mention about upscale work. Recently I had someone find my website liked what she saw and said your the one I want to build my building. When everything was said and done she turned a $3000 building into almost $7000 and never batted an eye.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Cave Creek AZ
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    1,526

    Re: Career Change at 43

    Move to Arizona, sheriff Joe keeps the illegals largley unemployed here. Go Sheriff Joe!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    237

    Re: Career Change at 43

    About going to school and learn new things at the age of 43, if you have enough money to go back school i think its a good thing!

    But when it come about starting in a shop with no experience at your age, it depend what kind of person you are, but sometime its hard to deal and more if you go in a shop with a lot of young competitive workers!

    im not old as you and i have not your ''life'' experience due to my age (23) so i don't want to give you lesson, but for being in a shop and see everyone working together i know what im talking about!

    you'll be probably at a very low wage compare to someone with 15 years less than you, it can be rough to deal with that for CERTAIN peoples!

    seriously and personally, if i already had a high degree and find school easy, i would go to school for being technician in drawing or engineering, something in an office!
    Calculator > Bevel Square

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Chicagoish
    Posts
    160

    Re: Career Change at 43

    I'm 43. I'm also in a union pipe trade. Why would you think about trying to get into something like this at 43? I would use that degree to your benefit. If you want to switch jobs and your mind is already set on it then go for it. I DO NOT get ANY paid vacations, holidays, personal days, or sick days. If you do not work then you will not get paid. It might not be like that for everyone but that's how it is across the board here in Chicago. The boss don't care if you're cold, wet or hot. The conditions usually suck. Someone usually craps all over an already full outhouse. No toilet paper left. There's alway a cartoon on the wall letting you know who the biggest suck holes on the job are. Your clothes get ruined. Your car racks up the miles. Always sit in traffic BOTH WAYS. Theres always something missing from the gang box. As soon as you get comfortable on a job and know it like the back of your hand you get switched to another new job. Plus the hazards of the jobsite. It's great. The trades have been good to me though. I am working in this tough economy and have some survivors guilt. Most of the guys who trained me aren't working. That sucks the big one man. Show up to work. Give them the 8 they're paying you for. Watch what you say to people and don't tell them anything personal. You'll be good to go. That's what I was told 17 years ago. I can't believe it's been 17 years to tell you the truth.

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