Welding Apprenticeship – Should You Apply?

This article will cover the types of welding apprenticeship opportunities that are available today. These opportunities can be a great way to get your foot in the door as a new welder with less experience. Find out the benefits of apprenticeships in this guide below.

What Do Welding Apprenticeships Involve?

Generally speaking, a welding apprenticeship is where a young student will be taught the necessary skills and knowledge to get the their career started right. Some shops will take younger welders in with hopes that they will eventually become an asset to the shop.

Apprentices are taught how to weld with different processes; as well as how to use the tools that are required for the job. It often helps if apprentices have some prior training so they aren’t starting from square one. A decent welders resume can help you jump start your career.

Downsides Of Apprenticeships

New apprentices in any field usually aren’t paid well, if at all. Proving yourself to any welding company is a long road that takes long hours and dedication. Apprentices can be treated poorly by the veteran welders that have been at the job a long time.

Apprentice positions can be daunting because younger welders don’t know what to expect. Every welding shop has different procedures and varying projects that are specific to that shop.

Welding OSHA
Welding Isn’t Easy! : Public Domain

Setting Yourself Up To Win

Getting certified at a reputable welding school can increase your success in the welding world. Showing your potential employer your previously gained knowledge will give them more confidence that you could become a good asset to their business. Even having a couple of certifications and some knowledge of tools and fabrication will give you a head start.

Landing my first fabrication position, I was considered an apprentice. I kept going into the company and speaking with the heads of different departments. Cold calls. I brought a small portfolio with photos of the work I had done with my small mobile welding business. This showed that I had built a couple of nice fences, a few railings, gates etc… This helped me out a lot more than if I had only brought a one page welding resume that listed my knowledge.

Welding employers are wary of newcomers, because they know that hiring on a new candidate can hurt the company – especially if the new hire isn’t qualified at all. Anything you can do to stand out from the crowd is a huge bonus.

Often times, welding school graduates will have to go into a company several times before they get considered for a position. It is best to not use a phone call as your only strategy when job hunting. Taking the initiative to walk through the doors of companies always goes a long way. If you can have a 5 minute conversation with one of the higher ups, then you will have a brand new contact that you didn’t have before.

Welding Apprenticeship
Small Numbers Of Enrollment Is A Benefit Of Most Welding Schools : Wikimedia Commons

Even smaller welding positions posted online can have well over 100 applicants. If the person in charge of hiring has never seen you in person, then all they have is a one page resume to figure out who you are.

Who You Know

As mentioned in our welding resume article, we stated that pipeline welding positions are rarely advertised. This is due to it being a tight knit community with many rig welders being second or third generation pipeliners.

Becoming a helper on the pipeline is the best way to become an apprentice in that field. Experienced rig welders often have a helper that has been with them a long time. This could even be their brother or good friend who is eventually trying to test out for a pipe welding position. Once you become a helper on the pipeline, the next step is proving yourself day in and day out. Getting as many contacts as you can will ensure adequate connections for future job openings.

For single hand welding work, having a few friends who work at fab shops can increase your chances of landing an apprenticeship. You might be able to arrange a shop tour, and you’ll get to meet the key employees of that company. If a friend can vouch for you in any way, it will be a bonus.

Ironworkers Lunch
Ironworkers Camaraderie : Thomas Pollock Anschutz

Working Your Way Up

Often times fabrication shop apprentices will start out sweeping the floor, helping other welders, grabbing lunch, etc… Shop owners are generally tougher guys who want to weed out any young kid that won’t put the work in. Getting over the hump can take awhile, but the skills you learn along the way are invaluable.

Whether you got an apprenticeship through a connection or a cold call, proving yourself to your employer is tough work in any field.

Sticking with a welding company for a chunk of time is a good thing. It will show future employers that you stayed and paid your dues. With so many tradesmen being erratic and unreliable, this is a surefire way to stand out from the rest of them.

Having a basic knowledge of the tools and machines used in welding shops will also make you look better. Knowing how to run a drill press or a mill is even better than just knowing how to work a MIG, TIG or Stick machine.