View Poll Results: Best education for private fabrication business?

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  • Self Taught

    6 46.15%
  • Private School

    3 23.08%
  • College Program

    4 30.77%
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Thread: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

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  1. #1
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    Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    In early stages of preparation to launch a small custom fabrication business.

    Not 100% on what specific niche we will be focused on but in general it will be more 'decorative' and non-structural type work (signs, furniture, artwork etc).

    Of course, especially at the outset, I want the skills and equipment to be in a position to not turn away more 'dirty' work (equipment repairs etc) should it come my way.

    I want to learn how to weld skillfully and safely with multiple processes and in diverse situations.


    I'm comfortable teaching myself through trial and error and with the use of the vast amount or information available to us all these days. From a dollars and cents perspective this makes most sense short term as all time and money to be put into education can go into equipment and actual welding.

    BUT

    I value expertise and believe that can potentially save me money and time in the mid to long run.

    College programs are relatively long, cover a ton of stuff not relevant to my goals (resume writing, for example) and I've heard that class time is significant while actual shop time is limited. As a plus, they tend to be quite inexpensive.

    Private schools have much shorter program lengths and seem to be much more focused on actually welding. But they are significantly more expensive.


    So, private fab shop for non-structural decorative work.

    Teach myself or go to college or go to a private school?

    Look forward to hearing from experienced welders!

    (ps I DO have some experience with MIG, FC and Stick but it is limited. I also have a strong mechanical/hand on work experience background if that's relevant)

  2. #2
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    You can go to schools but there in nothing better than learning as you go. Takes a lot of years to learn all the welding processes well.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    I see more business fail, not because the person can't do the work, but because they can't run a business. Your questions and lack of direction makes me think you are going to learn this fact the hard way. I'd add #4 to your list as "The school of hard knocks". Time spent in the field you plan to work in will be invaluable when you want to start your own business. Do you know how to estimate time to complete a job? Are you familiar with all the expenses. overhead, materials, taxes, labor, licenses etc?

    I'd suggest most people work at least 3-5 years in a business similar to what they want to own, doing everything from shop floor work, to the office end of things, if not longer. Traditional education will help, either with basic skills welding if you go to a welding school, or business education if you go to college, but neither will fill in the blanks like working in the field. All 3 would be best, but not everyone has that luxury. Someone who has works all positions in a shop however will almost always be better prepared than someone with just "schooling".

    If you'd like one of us Mods to add #4 to your poll, just hit the report button and ask, or Pm one of us to do it. I'm betting #4 will get the most votes.
    .



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  4. #4
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Thanks DSW.

    I assumed someone would bring that up as it would be the exact issue I would raise in my current area of expertise. So respect due!

    I've been self employed for approximately 10 years and have not only paid my bills / fed my family but built up decent little net worth.

    I've no doubt I'm going to have a lot of lessons to learn but I'm comfortable learning them on my own time.

    I'm really just interested at this point in getting feedback on what education path seems to fit my situation best?

  5. #5
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Join some professional organizations. AWS, NOMMA, blacksmith association, ....whatever you want to do there is an orgization for you.. Check their educational programs/ workshops. It is Not real clear what you are trying to accomplish?

  6. #6
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    You could find a retired welder to teach you what your interested in learning. Your local church would be a good place to find a teacher.

  7. #7
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Where are you located?
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  8. #8
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    I agree with what DSW said. I'll offer the following additional advice:

    1 - At the very least go to the bookstore or amazon.com and buy a book on running a contracting business. These books are aimed at handymen, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. But the advice they offer on how to run a business will work for you. Check out other web forums like contractortalk.com and read about the things that other small businessmen struggle with. Try not to make the same mistakes; at least more than once. You'll make plenty of original mistakes of your own along the way to keep things interesting.

    2 - The type and amount of education you need will really depend on the type of work you end up doing. I've met pipeline welders, old hands, who couldn't read; but they were great at their chosen profession. Then there are welding engineers who wouldn't know a MIG gun from a wooden spoon.

    Figure out what you're going to do and build a plan based on that goal. If you're going to weld inexpensive yard art for craft fairs; you can pretty much start tomorrow. If you want to build race car roll cages and chassis then get some education on how to do this. Your local community college probably has a degree in auto-body repair. Start there and build on it.

    I went through the Hobart welding school program. They teach the basics of structural and pipe welding in 9 months. It's a solid foundation with a lot of value for the dollars you'll spend. That said, they teach very little about job site safety, a little about pipe fitting, nothing when it comes to rigging, nothing about operating lifts and other powered machinery, and nothing else about the kinds of work you'll have to do as a structural, single hand, or combo welder. They teach nothing about mechanized or robotic welding. There's very little in their practical teaching about welding stainless steel or Cr-Mo piping. They teach nothing about submerged arc welding; which could make a student a lot of money in a pipe spool fabrication or pressure vessel shop. So the program is very good a narrow slice of the welding world. Do you want to be an ironworker or pipe welder? If so then the program makes sense, as a start to your education. The rest will likely come on the job. If not; you'd probably be better served spending your time and money elsewhere.

    Whatever you do, don't buy a beat up truck, a harbor freight 90 amp mig welder, a bag of hammers, and then put up a street sign that says "WELDING and STUFF". Take the time to decide what you're going to do, and then go after that with both hands. Any plan is better than no plan at all. Don't be afraid to fail if the only thing you have invested is time. You're young and have time to spare.(I assume)

    I just re-read your first post, If you want to do decorative wrought iron then find a local shop and ask for a job. Or if you have a full time job you need to keep, then look for your local ABANA chapter and see if you can take some classes. Blacksmithing isn't welding; but it could teach you a lot about design and creation of decorative metalwork. Go to craft fairs on the weekends and schmooze with the craftsmen who have their work on display. Find out how they grew into the work they do and why they do it. Go to the local ironworker's union and ask about apprenticeship and training. Ironworkers do more than structural steel. You might find that they'll teach alot of what you want to know in exchange for your doing the dirty work at their jobsites.

    After reading all I've written, I'm going to vote with be self taught unless the schools you could attend are a perfect match for what you want to do...
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  9. #9
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    I would say GO to college, Learn about chemistry metal alloys and the galvanic scale, WHY welding works and take the time to learn about all the processes you can while there, Then find the best fab shop in the area and get hired there and spend 5 years there even if it means you start by pushing a broom. While working for that fab shop look at what works and what does not from a BUSINESS standpoint.

    Almost anyone can fuse two pieces of metal together with an electric arc. But can you do that while making a PROFIT that separates the winners from the losers.

    As to 'self-taught' well if you think you put the books away when you leave college you have the wrong impression, College should teach you HOW to study - I'm an engineer who dabbles in welding and I'm constantly hitting the books learning how to do things both in my profession and with the welders I work with in my restoration projects. And I've used a few weird proceses. Ever hear of 'electroslag welding' (its used in shipbuilding primarily) or inductive bolt removal (another welding related process)
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  10. #10
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Originally Posted by ford91exploder
    https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/teach-myself-to-weld-or-take-courses-at-college https://essaydune.com/dissertation-proposal//analysis-of-welding-tech-education
    I would say GO to college, Learn about chemistry metal alloys and the galvanic scale, WHY welding works and take the time to learn about all the processes you can while there, Then find the best fab shop in the area and get hired there and spend 5 years there even if it means you start by pushing a broom. While working for that fab shop look at what works and what does not from a BUSINESS standpoint.

    Almost anyone can fuse two pieces of metal together with an electric arc. But can you do that while making a PROFIT that separates the winners from the losers.

    As to 'self-taught' well if you think you put the books away when you leave college you have the wrong impression, College should teach you HOW to study - I'm an engineer who dabbles in welding and I'm constantly hitting the books learning how to do things both in my profession and with the welders I work with in my restoration projects. And I've used a few weird proceses. Ever hear of 'electroslag welding' (its used in shipbuilding primarily) or inductive bolt removal (another welding related process)


    The problem with colleges is that there are only a few programs in the US that can offer a 4-year welding course after which students can get a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology. Mostly, they have 2-year associate's degree programs. I'm a self-taught welding geek, but my son decided to get a college education. I didn't try to make him change his mind, but still I don't think college is worth it.
    Btw, here's a good explanation about welding certification aspects: http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/...ification.html

  11. #11
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    I took a few classes at the local college trade dept. Classes on CAD, Stick and gas welding, and basic machining. It was just a foundation and I wanted to learn more from the classes but I feel it was a good foundation to build on. My 2 cents.

  12. #12
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    I've taken night time welding courses several years back. At that point in time, it had been awhile since I welded, and wanted to learn any updates there are. Took these courses at the local technology center that offers adult courses like the welding course. Good stuff. Would definitely do it again.

  13. #13
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    I started welding at age 9.
    I ask my father and he spent 1/2 hour using the Arc welder and cutting torch.
    After I used books
    Be for I was in high School I was fabcation & welding on buildings.

    I never spent 1 minute in a classroom on Welding.

    I was self employed for almost 40 years steel until the doctor told me to stop.

    Bottom line no loans to pay back.

    Dave



    Quote Originally Posted by northernstorm View Post
    In early stages of preparation to launch a small custom fabrication business.

    Not 100% on what specific niche we will be focused on but in general it will be more 'decorative' and non-structural type work (signs, furniture, artwork etc).

    Of course, especially at the outset, I want the skills and equipment to be in a position to not turn away more 'dirty' work (equipment repairs etc) should it come my way.

    I want to learn how to weld skillfully and safely with multiple processes and in diverse situations.


    I'm comfortable teaching myself through trial and error and with the use of the vast amount or information available to us all these days. From a dollars and cents perspective this makes most sense short term as all time and money to be put into education can go into equipment and actual welding.

    BUT

    I value expertise and believe that can potentially save me money and time in the mid to long run.

    College programs are relatively long, cover a ton of stuff not relevant to my goals (resume writing, for example) and I've heard that class time is significant while actual shop time is limited. As a plus, they tend to be quite inexpensive.

    Private schools have much shorter program lengths and seem to be much more focused on actually welding. But they are significantly more expensive.


    So, private fab shop for non-structural decorative work.

    Teach myself or go to college or go to a private school?

    Look forward to hearing from experienced welders!

    (ps I DO have some experience with MIG, FC and Stick but it is limited. I also have a strong mechanical/hand on work experience background if that's relevant)
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  14. #14
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    I went to the local vo-tech for basic welding. Stick,mig,oxy-acetylene etc. Well worth it in my opinion.

  15. #15
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    what'll i say, is, you can pick up bad habits outa the field/industry (never knowing the right way) . whereas the classroom/book likely teach you right (more so), then you can go break the rules after that if u want

  16. #16
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Bad habits like doing job fast.
    Since most building type require a welding certification out side of school. You can not pickup bad habits and past the test.

    I also believe in freedom from the school need money for a very little education.
    I know some that say you need education are Liberals.

    I worked 40 years most good welder was ether high school or self education.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by 123weld View Post
    what'll i say, is, you can pick up bad habits outa the field/industry (never knowing the right way) . whereas the classroom/book likely teach you right (more so), then you can go break the rules after that if u want
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  17. #17
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    [QUOTE=smithdoor;8732795]

    I worked 40 years most good welder was ether high school or self education.

    after reading #16 , and a couple other your current posts, you don't have to convince me that your "self taught"

  18. #18
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Never said if went to College.
    I said did not go to school for welding.

    I did take engineering and welded on metal building to pay for college.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by 123weld View Post

    I worked 40 years most good welder was ether high school or self education.

    after reading #16 , and a couple other your current posts, you don't have to convince me that your "self taught"
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  19. #19
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    A lot of the guys here don't need help with general fabrication skills like a teenager but they need to learn welding. How good and what is the question. Fixing some yard stuff for Joe Retired is different than a 21 yr old in the construction industry. Same for maintenance people, I know guys cant stick but aint all bad wire welders, a little school wouldn't hurt but they can get the work done. I had a Bud stop in and ask for a lesson in 7018 up. We worked on it for an hour, he got a lot better. I saw a kid from a votech pick up a machine and prove he could run it, some not, some got talent some don't.
    I was teaching a class type thing and the father wanted the son to participate but it was so much more efficient to teach the father who can teach jr, Dad had the manual skill set where he had mastered his hands.

  20. #20
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Most good welders have had some instruction. Doesn't have to be formal school, can be as well. I got fired for having my helper welding back in the day. He was wanting to test, he needed a couple days practice. He did a good job. It was free, he got paid I didn't have anything to do but look over his shoulder once in a while.
    He was a pretty fair welder his whole Ironworker career, don't think he likely got any other training than ojt when he got a chance.

  21. #21
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    My abilities are a gift from the Great One above.

  22. #22
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Quote Originally Posted by theweldor View Post
    My abilities are a gift from the Great One above.
    I agree 💯

    Dave
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  23. #23
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    I would say to get into some kind of training program, either Vocational school or Junior college class, or an internship with a good welder, I've seen self taught guys pick up bad habits & once you have them, they can be rough to break, I was there once. I think I would lean toward a #4 answer for college welding courses with some business thrown in. I don't think you would need a lot of training but would recommend learning stick first, if you can stick weld, then mig is dirt simple for the most part. You mentioned a couple of interests in your first post, if you are doing ANYTHING for ANYONE other than your own personal use then you will have liabilities and you need the training and proof that you are qualified to do those repairs, some basic metallurgy may be a good thing too. And NO, I'm not a Liberal, I am as conservative as they come!
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  24. #24
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    Quote Originally Posted by CAVEMANN View Post
    I would say to get into some kind of training program, either Vocational school or Junior college class, or an internship with a good welder, I've seen self taught guys pick up bad habits & once you have them, they can be rough to break, I was there once. I th!
    i'm glad you get it. i worked temp for a millwright outfit for short time in the early aughts. couple of guys were excellent welders from the south . one had a huckleberry accent, and the other had a tiny little okie head w/ light blue eyes like a australian shepherd. both guys excellent welders (better than i could ever be). they were the traveling gypsy type. i watched them sharpen there tungstens improperly for several days. one day during lunch, i brought the conversation up, and told them why they were wrong, and explained. well, it worked for them, they got good results, but probably coulda got better control/results if they did it right. this is an example of what i was trying to explain earlier, as "bad habit or just not knowing"

  25. #25
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    Re: Education - College vs Private vs Self Taught

    imvho learn how to run a business first and foremost;the welding part is easy in comparison.
    i.u.o.e. # 15
    queens, ny and sunny fla

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