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Building your first welding resume can be a tough feat, especially if you’re young and just out of welding school. Welding companies want to hire candidates that have experience in the areas that company specializes in.
One issue that I had was that my welding school didn’t teach us hardly any fabrication skills whatsoever. Our classes were designed to prepare us for the tests through the American Welding Society. This involved a lot of days where we were running beads over and over again. This helps with becoming a better “welder”, but in terms of building things – it left us in the dust.
So with the final weeks of school approaching, I felt confident that I could pass my tests, and I did. The problem is that only shows companies that you can run a solid bead. I hadn’t fabricated hardly anything yet, besides a frame for my fly fishing raft.
So in order to gain fabrication, structural or pipe welding skills, most kids need a company to give them a chance and train them on the job – despite their welding resume. Passing a pipe test is different, because if you can pass a 6G test you’ll be in the money in terms of pipe welding opportunities. The 6G 45 degree test is one of the holy grails in the welding world, and many kids fail that test all the time. The video i just linked is Jody Collier from Welding Tips And Tricks showing how to burn a 6G flawlessly. Keep in mind that a welding test can be Stick, MIG or TIG depending on the companies policies and needs. Multiple welding positions may be involved with a companies testing protocol.
Joining The Work Force
I was lucky enough to have a couple of structural companies give me the chance to hire on in the field and burn 7018 stick rods all day. Big columns, I-beams and angle gave me countless opportunities to prove myself with real life welding experience. Thankfully, I had burned literally thousands of stick electrodes at school, so I wasn’t losing sleep at night about the new job.
Welding employers want to see that you have a wide variety of skills besides welding. Welding is only one part of the job, and many days you won’t be welding much at all. Some skills listed below are common strengths on welding resumes:
- Knowing how to operate a bandsaw
- Proficient with using angle grinders
- Running a Mag Drill
- Operating an engine drive
- Driving a Forklift
- Operating an Oxy-Acetylene torch
- Repairing welding machines
- Operating a come-a-long
- Using hoists/rigging
- Fabrication knowledge
- Pipe fit up
- Running a bench grinder
In my opinion, you won’t become a guru in your field unless you’re actually on the job, full time, every week. I didn’t become a good ironworker until I graduated and became one, and I didn’t become a good fabricator until I worked in a fab shop. Long time employees will become your coworkers and share their knowledge with you (if you respect them and listen well).
Single Hand Welding
A lot of younger welders will start off with single hand welding. This is when you work at a company, in the shop or field- and they provide you with most of the tools and equipment you will need throughout the day. This obviously pays less because the employer is fronting the money for all of the expensive equipment that their employees will need.
Single hand welding is a great way to learn the welding trade and build a welding resume without much upfront cost for the welding employee. Some of these welders will go on to start their own hustles with their own equipment down the line.
Rig welding is when an individual has a truck or trailer with all of their tools and their welding machine(s) on board. This is most common in the pipeline industry where a welder must set up a truck before being considered for a welding test. There is a full range of low end rig setups to setups costing over 100 grand.
Pipeline welding jobs generally aren’t advertised, as it is a tight knit community. These rig welders will work a job for a few months, and then when the work is finished they often have to head to a different state. Each new pipeline job requires a re-test to prove the welders skills. These welders often live in fifth wheel trailers, as they need to be able to hit the road as soon as they get laid off.
A lot of times oil companies will hire welders helpers. These positions are apprentice jobs on the pipeline. Helpers will make sure that the rig welder can focus on their job- while the helper grinds, preps, organizes etc… These helpers will practice welding after hours, with their primary goal being to test out for a rig welding position on the pipeline.
Some rig welders prefer mobile welding in their local cities and towns. These jobs vary from repairs to construction, and welders can set their own rate if they have their own truck and business license/insurance. Some rig welders do mobile work in the downtime between pipeline jobs.
Single hand welders are most often paid an hourly wage with a relatively normal work schedule. Raises are given incrementally, but these wages rarely reach the income of rig welders who stay busy. Average single hand welding salaries are $40k-$50k in the US.
Rig welders on the pipeline are usually paid in a split check. This means the oil company is paying them hourly for their welding (lets say $45 an hour). They are also paying them a truck rate for the usage of their rig truck (lets say $20 an hour). Some oil companies will also pay a per diem rate which covers the welders food, gas, and living expenses (lets say $75 a day). As you can imagine, working full time with these wages can be very lucrative, but there is a lot of work involved to get to these positions. Busting a couple of x-ray tests on the job could lead to your dismissal.
Pick which welding skills you want to pursue and become the best you can at them. Most pipeline welders aren’t ironworkers. Most single hand welders don’t have a mobile rig. No welder can perform every test under the sun. We hope you enjoyed this article overviewing welding resume info, and thanks for reading!