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Thread: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

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    Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Hi all.

    I'm the father of a future welder. He's an artist at heart with steel sculpture and casting as his preferred areas. He's 26 right now, been working in a couple of general steel fab shop jobs and it's time to get a well enough paying job to basically cover the bills and start a career.

    He's been welding since he was 12 and has had a number of jobs during and after school that were more along the lines of general fabrication - working for pay summers and after hours since he was 15. So while he's a great welder - he didn't have the formal credentials necessary to make a real living in this area. He's attending a welding training school in Norfolk and getting within a month of graduation. Apparently he's (according to his teacher) already nailed everything required to take the (I think it's called) 6G certification test. He has a bachelors degree in art - but he pretty much used his time in art school to do do welding and casting in steel.

    His instructor - who's been teaching / welding for 30 years - tells him he's among if not the best he's seen. A natural, great work ethic, even mentioned things like willingness to take time out to help the other students, etc. They haven't started the formal job placement piece of the program yet - but his instructor has dropped his name and performance to a few friends in the business around Norfolk and phone calls are starting to come in. So, my questions:

    Money - both calls he's received so far they've talked about hourly rate + per diem. In my world per diem is *always* just about covering your travel expenses - but the way it's been presented here it seems like this is basically a part of the day to day pay package. Any clarification would be appreciated. Is this just something you get for working the day?

    Jobs - I'm not objective here but he's a great guy. Technically very skilled, good team player, fantastic work ethic (he is *not* like a lot of the 20-somethings I see today. He knows how to work. Big time.), natural leader. I'd like to point him toward companies / industries / locations where he can see diverse work, challenging problems and, over time, have a chance to use his leadership skills. He doesn't want to become a senior management suit (like his father) and I'm completely behind him on this - but I've also seen how well he pulls teams of people together to get things done in a completely natural way. Also - is there additional training he should get under his belt during his own time. First aid? Some other specialized flavor of welding? Something else?

    In addition to welding he has a host of other technical skills. Great general fabrication skills background, CAD programming, metal finishing, casting (he's built many furnaces from scratch) and completed a Kickstarter project to build a micro scale steel furnace, architectural fancy iron, brass and bronze work and a bunch of other things I don't understand. Good basic computer skills. Oddly quick about math. Courses from Fay Butler (the god of metalshaping) where he received fantastic reviews. He just loves metal and working with it.

    So - I know this is an incredible general set of things. But - I'd really appreciate input from welding newbies, industry vets, companies - whoever has something to add. Again, I'm not objective, but he's a fantastic kid with amazing potential. I'd appreciate anything you have to offer. Industries, companies, locations, mistakes to avoid - you name it.

    Thanks in advance,

    Tom

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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    First off, you don't need to sell us on him. Of course he's a great kid but so is everybody else's in their parents mind. He needs to sell himself to potential employers. Is he looking for shop work or working out of town on different jobs? Not sure what per diem means? It might be a clever way of describing piece work and repetitious head down azz up working conditions to get a decent wage? If he works for a contractor on jobs out of town, then they pay for travel expenses and/or living allowance. Second, there is no perfect job that is going to use all of his skill set. I think the art end of it should be left as a hobby for now and look for a company where he can start a welding apprenticeship. If his employer see's he has the skill, they can apply to see if he can challenge some or all of the apprenticeship tests. This would move him up the ladder and increase his pay. Being ambitious is good but he needs to be a follower to begin with. I've worked with a few new apprentice's that come in and figure they know more than the guys that have been doing it for years. Not saying your son is like this, just saying. If he has a good employer, he'll be rewarded for applying himself to the job and doing what needs to be done, whether it's straightening out the steel rack or sweeping the floor. No different than people who started out on the till at McDonalds and worked their way up to owning their own location. One thing I think might be a big consideration when looking for an employer is how secure the job will be. Less pay but a more stable long term position might be better than getting a higher paying job with less chance of it being long term. Making more money but then being laid off when the job is over and not having another one to go to is something to think about.
    Last edited by Welder Dave; 03-28-2015 at 01:59 PM.

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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Hi Tom,

    So to recap what line of work does your son want to do? Welding and Fabrication or something to do with the Arts? He has to decide and then you'd make up a resume that would highlight what he wants to do, If you just add everything above you'll just confuse everyone more

    Pay would depend on what kind of welding he wants to do and if he wants to fabricate and accept a little more responsibility, You can just start welding and earn $10 an hour or you can work fora company as a fabricator and earn $30-40 an hour There so much that he can do with welding its like saying he wants to go into the medical profession, but to do what??

    Dependent on what he wants to do will decide what sort of money he can get

    Per Diem is Latin for "per day" or "for each day" is a daily allowance for expenses—a specific amount of money an organization gives an individual, often an employee, per day to cover living expenses when traveling for work. A per diem can include part or all of the expenses incurred, for example it may exclude accommodation (for which reimbursement may be available on presentation of receipts) and only cover meals.

    If used in the right context then this is what it means.

    See if you can find out what type of welding he wants to do and we'l be able to advise a bit more specific


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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Just to clarify - he'll be looking for a straight up welding / fabrication opportunity. The arts side of things shifts to a background interest.

    TT

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry1964 View Post
    Hi Tom,

    So to recap what line of work does your son want to do? Welding and Fabrication or something to do with the Arts? He has to decide and then you'd make up a resume that would highlight what he wants to do, If you just add everything above you'll just confuse everyone more

    Pay would depend on what kind of welding he wants to do and if he wants to fabricate and accept a little more responsibility, You can just start welding and earn $10 an hour or you can work fora company as a fabricator and earn $30-40 an hour There so much that he can do with welding its like saying he wants to go into the medical profession, but to do what??

    Dependent on what he wants to do will decide what sort of money he can get

    Per Diem is Latin for "per day" or "for each day" is a daily allowance for expenses—a specific amount of money an organization gives an individual, often an employee, per day to cover living expenses when traveling for work. A per diem can include part or all of the expenses incurred, for example it may exclude accommodation (for which reimbursement may be available on presentation of receipts) and only cover meals.

    If used in the right context then this is what it means.

    See if you can find out what type of welding he wants to do and we'l be able to advise a bit more specific

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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    I work in the oil field. Per diem is paid when work is away from home. It is tax free money. Often per diem is way in excess of what expenses actually are so it can be seen as a perk. For example $50 a day for meals and company pays motel. I probably average $15 a day for meals when working.

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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Quote Originally Posted by ttague View Post
    Just to clarify - he'll be looking for a straight up welding / fabrication opportunity. The arts side of things shifts to a background interest.

    TT
    Then he'll have to make his resume to fit what he wants to do Has he got a resume made already?
    Why don't you ask him to join here and we can hear direct from him?


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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Sounds like a perfect candidate for Newport News Shipbuilding apprentice school. They have been advertising for candidated past few months. Good pay during apprenticeship and great opportunities afterwards.
    Jerry
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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    I am only a couple of years older than your son, and I came up much the same way. I went to drafting school while taking welding classes, as well as fielding some fab jobs, then pipe jobs. Allot of 26-28 year olds are well established, beginning their tenure as "journeyman'' welders, that can hurt or help him. Allot of people will assume, by his age he is a welder with some solid career experience of ~8 years. Allot of employers give little consideration to resumes, and are more concerned with how the applicant does on the weld test initially given at every job, how the potential employee carries himself, and how he performs in his first week. Look the part, act the part, and blow away the test for the best pay. Down here the south, this is just way most people in our industry work. Demand is extremely high for young, highly motivated skilled welders, and he will not be without many many opportunities. This is not like many other careers, and switching jobs is common outside certain sectors, so don't be too worried about getting laid off, or having to quit because of poor conditions.

    Per Diem is part of a compensation package, it can be thought of as a 'separation' pay, as well as covering expenses. I have been payed per diem even when all expenses are paid. I have had it not be hardly enough to cover travel related expenses, but my hourly rate was more than enough to justify it. Compenstion should be looked at as a package, as fringe benefits can be unique and rewarding to certain individuals.
    Constant Current Weldor.

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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    From what you describe, your son will do best in a fabrication shop. The projects change as little as day to day, or as long as a month. For the creative artist in him, the constantly changing projects will engage him most, and allow him to massage his creative skills.
    There is often a lot of problem solving in fabrication, as evidenced by watching the 'reality shows' that do welding. That will really excite his creativity.
    Also, in fabrication, quality work is very important, good looking welds, parameters being met to exactness etc. You can't be a 1/4 inch off. This will challenge him. He will also learn to use a far wider range of equipment, such as press brake, ironworker, plasma cutter, milling machines, sanders and drill presses, grinding amongst others. Perhaps even CNC or water jet machines. He will also do more different welds, primarily MIG, but also TIG and stick from time to time.
    Be warned, there can also be a time crunch pressure, which either makes the job more enjoyable, or a real burnout stress producer. From the sound of it, he would relish the challenges. But he does need to be aware of the time pressures if he does not handle stress well.

    The least likely success for a creative mind like his is any sort of job where he makes the same welds repetitively, be it in manufacturing, production line, or oil rig/oil field work. Make no mistake, the oil rigs definitely have their problem solving challenges, but due to the strictures of the welds, and the danger of the job, it is unlikely they'll have 'the new guy' doing any of that. Nah, he'll be welding brackets all day every day until someone walks off or gets walked off and he is reluctantly pressed into service due to need. Again, there will be time pressures, especially in production work where you are measured more in pieces per hour than weld quality. This sort of mind numbingly boring welding is the worst thing for a creative mind, and he will suffer for it.
    He will not learn various machines except as he demonstrates an interest on breaks, and his boss and the machine operator respond to the interest and allow it. The press brake operator runs that machine all day in a factory setting, and he may jealously guard his knowledge, so as not to get replaced. Same goes for ironworker, milling machine and so on. He will likely do the same type of welding, either stick or MIG and never anything else. Both if he is lucky.

    Working fabrication will be the best way to learn much as fast as possible. I encourage him to create a portfolio of projects he has made, and to be sure to be able to explain the exact specifications he had to conform to, and how he handles the problem of taking the time to get the job done to specifications as opposed to working quickly. Fabrication jobs are harder to get from my experience, but pay better, teach you more, and allow more different types of welding. Even if he takes less pay, I would push for a fabrication job simply to get experience on all the fabrication equipment, and learn the mathematical tricks of fitting parts such as stair slopes.
    Just my take.
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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Quote Originally Posted by Daeyel View Post
    From what you describe, your son will do best in a fabrication shop. The projects change as little as day to day, or as long as a month. For the creative artist in him, the constantly changing projects will engage him most, and allow him to massage his creative skills.
    There is often a lot of problem solving in fabrication, as evidenced by watching the 'reality shows' that do welding. That will really excite his creativity.
    Also, in fabrication, quality work is very important, good looking welds, parameters being met to exactness etc. You can't be a 1/4 inch off. This will challenge him. He will also learn to use a far wider range of equipment, such as press brake, ironworker, plasma cutter, milling machines, sanders and drill presses, grinding amongst others. Perhaps even CNC or water jet machines. He will also do more different welds, primarily MIG, but also TIG and stick from time to time.
    Be warned, there can also be a time crunch pressure, which either makes the job more enjoyable, or a real burnout stress producer. From the sound of it, he would relish the challenges. But he does need to be aware of the time pressures if he does not handle stress well.

    The least likely success for a creative mind like his is any sort of job where he makes the same welds repetitively, be it in manufacturing, production line, or oil rig/oil field work. Make no mistake, the oil rigs definitely have their problem solving challenges, but due to the strictures of the welds, and the danger of the job, it is unlikely they'll have 'the new guy' doing any of that. Nah, he'll be welding brackets all day every day until someone walks off or gets walked off and he is reluctantly pressed into service due to need. Again, there will be time pressures, especially in production work where you are measured more in pieces per hour than weld quality. This sort of mind numbingly boring welding is the worst thing for a creative mind, and he will suffer for it.
    He will not learn various machines except as he demonstrates an interest on breaks, and his boss and the machine operator respond to the interest and allow it. The press brake operator runs that machine all day in a factory setting, and he may jealously guard his knowledge, so as not to get replaced. Same goes for ironworker, milling machine and so on. He will likely do the same type of welding, either stick or MIG and never anything else. Both if he is lucky.

    Working fabrication will be the best way to learn much as fast as possible. I encourage him to create a portfolio of projects he has made, and to be sure to be able to explain the exact specifications he had to conform to, and how he handles the problem of taking the time to get the job done to specifications as opposed to working quickly. Fabrication jobs are harder to get from my experience, but pay better, teach you more, and allow more different types of welding. Even if he takes less pay, I would push for a fabrication job simply to get experience on all the fabrication equipment, and learn the mathematical tricks of fitting parts such as stair slopes.
    Just my take.
    It helps to know something about what you're talking about. They build A LOT of drilling and oilfield equipment in Alberta. In fact Alberta are world leaders in oilfield drilling and fabrication. When things are busy they hire apprentices all the time that work alongside journeyman often doing the same thing. Welders don't normally run press brakes because it is a separate career in itself.

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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    It helps to know something about what you're talking about. They build A LOT of drilling and oilfield equipment in Alberta. In fact Alberta are world leaders in oilfield drilling and fabrication. When things are busy they hire apprentices all the time that work alongside journeyman often doing the same thing. Welders don't normally run press brakes because it is a separate career in itself.
    Down here in the south it very common to be required to run a press brake, rolling machine, drill press, shear, ect, as well as be able weld. This is is what they consider a 'fabricator' here. This is very different than up north where you can take your metal across the shop to the brake man, and he will do it for you.
    Constant Current Weldor.

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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Quote Originally Posted by Davidbrown View Post
    Down here in the south it very common to be required to run a press brake, rolling machine, drill press, shear, ect, as well as be able weld. This is is what they consider a 'fabricator' here. This is very different than up north where you can take your metal across the shop to the brake man, and he will do it for you.
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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    Welder Dave, I think you misread my post. In a fabrication shop, a worker is expected to know and run all the equipment.
    In a production setting, you run a piece of metal over to the press brake operator, or the shear machine operator, (or rather, it has been run by those guys before it gets to you!)

    I would even go so far as to say, if you do one thing, and one thing only, you are not a fabricator. You are merely a stop in a production line.

    Lot of truth in what Storeman says as well.
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    Re: Per-Diem, Career Choices, etc - Would really appreciate input

    First off, welcome to the interweb dad! You ask for input but what do you want input on? I heard your son is 26 and needs a job / career to pay his own bills, and I couldn't agree more. The welding instructor said he is ready for the 6G test and that is a pipe test. Is your son wanting to do pipe? Per-diem is paid to some people that work on the road including pipe welders. If your son wants a welding career there are a lot of choices that may fit, but from your description I am hearing he's a "professional student". Maybe it's time for a little father son chat. Just for the record my youngest is 27.

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