Career Snapshot: Assistant Manager of the Welding Shop
This post is the first in a Career Snapshot series highlighting positions available in manufacturing. The interviews will cover general information about the industry, as well as day-to-day specifics of real-life Distefano Technology & Manufacturing employees.
Although newspapers, websites, and blogs have reiterated the sentiment for the past several years, it often seems to be a little-known fact that careers in welding are some of the most in-demand positions in the United States. You might say welders make the world go round: From engineering, to robotics, to custom metal components, to ship building, welders are essential in a wide variety of industries.
In addition, the future outlook for the welding profession is strong. As the Washington Times reports, the high volume of baby boomers retiring means that there will be a need for hundreds of thousands of welding professionals in the next decade.
We sat down with one of our welders, Skieler Moody, assistant manager of the welding shop here at Distefano Technology and Manufacturing, to learn a bit more about her education, her current position at DTM, and her thoughts on the opportunities associated with a welding career.
Distefano Technology & Manufacturing: Skieler, you’re 19 years old and will have been employed at Distefano for one year this February—congratulations! Can you tell us about your educational background and how it prepared you for your current position?
Skieler Moody: Ah man, high school (smiles). I had taken a welding class at Westside High School during my freshman and sophomore years, and during my junior and senior year, I decided to be homeschooled. I took classes at Metropolitan Community College, which I still continue to do. I’m a perfectionist, so when I was sitting at a B and teachers weren’t interested in helping me raise my grade, I decided to take my own route. I began at Metro with gas, metal, and arc welding classes, and ended up with a quarter of the associate’s degree. I am about halfway through the program now.
DTM: How do you balance your education and your work at Distefano?
SM: I work at DTM from 5:30am to 2:30 or 3pm, and I go to school full-time on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 6pm to 10pm at night. I hope to finish my associate’s degree in welding next fall, which will allow me to take on more challenging welding projects, and I also want to get my bachelor’s degree in Business.
DTM: How did you learn about Distefano?
SM: My first year at Metro, I became friends with the welding manager, Gordon, who was also taking classes. When I finished my first classes, I called him, and then I started in February of 2015.
DTM: What do you do in the welding shop, and what do you enjoy about it?
SM: I prefer MIG (Metal Inert Gas) Welding, which is where I began working. You can just focus on your line and go. I also can do TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding, which utilizes a small torch, a filler rod like a long piece of lead, and a foot pedal to control the heat with. I also do oxy-fuel welding, stick welding, and gas, metal, and arc welding. In each, you actually get to build things! As a welder, I now look at every weld around me. I can’t go on carnival rides anymore (laughs). The process is relaxing for me. The fact that there’s always a need for it is a comfort for me, too.
DTM: How does welding compare to the jobs your friends have?
SM: I make $5/hour more than all of my friends, and their jobs are usually only part-time, like 20-30 hours per week.
DTM: How do you feel about your future career prospects?
SM: I think it’s looking really good. I want to progress as far as I can. I thought about working with my dad and doing welding overseas. There’s a lot of opportunities to move up with better pay. The more educated I am, the more opportunities I’ll have. There are lots of ways to move up. Sometimes you can do an internship to start, and then move up. I kind of thought, as a girl, I would be hearing more rumors and stuff like that, but that really hasn’t been the case.
DTM: We hear you’re an award-winning welder…
SM: Two years ago was my first year doing competition welding at Skills USA. The first time, I took home second place in the state for MIG welding. Then this last year I got first in the state for MIG. They want me to do it again, but I’d be competing at the college level. I loved it. You have a print and then you have to follow the instructions and essentially make sure there are no flaws.
DTM: Why should someone be interested in a career as a welder?
SM: I was actually talking to a guy down at Metro yesterday, and he said that 82% of welders are 10 years from retirement. That just shows that there’s a lot of need, and there’s going to be a lot of need going forward. I think if you’re interested in this kind of work, it’s a great career.
Thanks to Skieler for letting us spend some time with her! If you have questions about being a welder or positions open at DTM, leave a comment in the section below any time! We’d love to hear from you.