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Improving Your Chances

Here are 13 tips to help you find steady employment as a welder:

1. When searching the job engines of major employers, look carefully at the categories. Welding jobs may appear under "skilled trades", "manufacturing", "construction", "general labor", "repair and maintenance" or "industrial technology". Be diligent and the welder listings should eventually appear.

2. For small employers, job applicants traditionally call or visit the office (regardless of any advertised positions). Ask if you can test for a welder position. If nothing is available, wait a month, then call again. By simply mailing out your resume and waiting for a phone call, you might not find a job.

3. Don't focus on learning one form of welding because you find that most comfortable. Employers usually prefer multi-process welders over those with limited skill sets.

4. You can likewise increase your appeal to recruiters by developing both structural and pipe welding skills. Pipe is harder, but experts predict thousands of new construction and repair jobs over the next few years. Pipe welding also generally pays better than structural welding.

5. Once you get the step-by-step details of what a welding certification test entails, rehearse those steps until you can perform the required welds in your sleep.

6. After a semester of training, consider buying a small arc welding machine (MIG, TIG or Stick), or an oxy-acetylene kit, so you can practice at home. For more on this, see How to Choose a Welding Machine.

7. If you're a college student:

8. Because there's so much to learn, compile a reference binder to carry with you on the job or at school. Divide it into the different welding processes and make copies of helpful charts, diagrams and product stock lists. Understanding the classification systems of consumeables is paramount. To learn more, see Filler Rod and Electrodes.

9. Join a professional organization like the American Welding Society, which offers students a discount rate, and participate in local chapter activities. This will keep you up to date on job trends and expand your network of contacts.

10. Use our extensive job board listings to monitor which cities and regions of the country are experiencing job booms. If you want to earn higher wages, you may decide to relocate to one of these areas. However, to limit stress, taking your first welding job closer to home might be preferable.

11. If you currently have low or no income, you may qualify for tuition waivers at junior colleges and some nonprofit vocational training programs. Other forms of financial aid may be available for books and to pay your monthly bills while you're in school. Check with your local unemployment office, nonprofit job counseling center, or college financial aid department for more information.

12. When welding, if you have trouble seeing the weld puddle or following the joint with your torch, buy a "cheater lens". This a magnified glass or plastic insert that's calibrated to a distance of about 12 inches. Stick it inside your helmet and adjust the shade setting. This should help you see things a little better.

13. While not everyone will become a proficient welder over time, nearly every student can capitalize on the coming job boom. Be sure to look into support positions, like welding inspector, personnel recruiter, sales representative, purchaser, project assistant, etc.

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