The Future Is Bright for Welding Careers
The month of April was National Welding Month, the time of year to think about why welding is vital to the modern world and our society as we know it. Throughout the country, companies congratulated their welders on a job well done and shared the good word about the need for welders in America today. “National Welding Month is the time to tell everyone what you do and what opportunities are available,” said American Welding Society president Nancy Cole in a video celebrating the month. “We want to focus on attracting and retaining new welders.”
To us, it seems like the push to focus on attracting and retaining new welders is important to continue in May, June, July, and the rest of the year. National Welding Month shouldn’t end when April does. Welding has immense potential to support both businesses and jobseekers.
If you’re looking for a job and finding a lucrative career is what’s important to you, look at the example of Texas student Justin Friend. He attended Texas State Technical College in Waco and received a two-year degree in welding. In 2013, his first full year as a welder, his income was about $130,000, more than triple the average annual wages for welders in the U.S. In 2014, Mr. Friend’s income rose to about $140,000. That has allowed the 24-year-old to buy a Ford F-250 pickup truck, invest in mutual funds and dabble in his hobbies, such as making jet engines, including one he attached to a golf cart, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Here are a few ways you can help share the message that welding can be rewarding, exciting, and financially supportive in the years to come. At Distefano, we’re proud to employ some truly exceptional welders (if you’d like to learn more about welding at Distefano, check out our Q + A here with welder Skieler Moody).
Mentor a Welder: Could your business mentor a future welder, or even a group of them? Mentorship is proven to increase success rates in future careers, and schools and businesses around the country are developing welding partnerships to fuel the talent pipeline. Your company could mentor a small number of students; it doesn’t have to be entire classes.
Up in Morris, Minnesota, four high school students are partaking in a welding mentorship program at Superior Industries. Over the semester, students will spend two hours each day at one of four shops in the company, learning about welding from experienced mentors. “That will give the students a different variety of welds and welding and different varieties of work, from code welding to standard, basic welding,” said Brad Zimmel, production manager at Superior Industries. Read more about the Morris Mentorship Program here.
Work with Community Organizations: Did you know that the Boy Scouts offer welding merit badges? In fact, the Scouts offer 133 merit badges in everything from welding to meteorology to computer programming, chemistry, material science, robotics, and more. In Santa Barbara just last month, Central Coast Boy Scout Troops participated in an industry workshop to earn their badges, and nearly 20 members of the local welding industry, as well as several Hancock welding students, volunteered to make it happen. Right now, the Boy Scouts of Mid-America serve over 20,000 youth, so consider working with volunteers and organizing a workshop or merit badge seminar.
Spread the Word: As always, businesses, teachers, and welders who advocate for welding can make an immense difference. The American Welding Society recommends signing up to talk about welding during your local school’s career day or sharing your experience as a welding professional at a technical school or college. No matter how you do it, talking about the bright future of welding can make a difference.
If you have ways to advocate for manufacturing careers, particularly welding, that we missed, leave them in the comments section below!