Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where have all the welders gone?

From weldingtipsandtricks.com:
Where have all the welders gone?

Haven't you heard??? There is a shortage of welders...

In Mobile, Ala., Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Co. is looking for welders. Welders who can pass a welding certification test.

The pay is solid — $40,000 to $60,000 — yet Bender Shipbuilding Co. recently found itself going to Mexico in search of candidates to be certified welders, said Jerry Betts, a quality assurance executive.

"American kids are simply not applying for the positions. "


Is it because Welding suffers from a negative image and at some point in time in our culture, it became more appealing to sit in a Dilbert cube under buzzing fluorescent lights, than to work with your hands actually making something?

Or do we have Nintendo games and Rap music to blame?

Are we that Effed up ?

Shame on us.

TV Shows like Monster Garage and Orange County Choppers have sparked an interest in welding and fabricating but its too late.

There is a shortage of welders

Jay Leno
talks about a shortage of skilled welders in a video he made for the American Welding Society. He mentions that the reason the USA was able to defeat Hitlers armies is because we could build planes faster than the enemy could shoot them down,,,,like every 55 minutes.

Raise your hand if you think we could do that today.

So how do I become a welder?....and not just a welder , but a high paid certified pipe welder?

Think about the Pipefitters Union.

The certified welders of the United Association of pipefitters, plumbers, and steamfitters are leading the industry in the high tech welds that are vital to the nations largest industries like nuclear power, oil refineries, pipelines etc.

From MIG to TIG to Stick, or even Orbital Tig welds, UA members are the best trained welders in industry.

If you are going to weld pipe for a living, be aware of this plain fact. Union pipe welders make more money than non union pipe welders.

Never mind all the philosophical arguments about the merits of union vs non union. That's for another day. You don't have to know all the details to know that more money is a good thing.

Lets stick to the facts. If you don’t care how much money you make and you just want to weld pipe because it gives you a warm fuzzy, then don’t even read any further.

But if you actually are working for dollars, and not just for enjoyment , read on.

Way back in 1979 I worked at a union fab shop as a welder with the boilermaker union. (There was a slight shortage of welders back then too and they let a few of us non union scum fill in for a few months) . Then I worked for a non union contractor right after leaving the union shop. (the union guys asked me nicely to quit since they had people who needed my spot) Union scale was about 11 bucks an hour back then, The Non union job was only around 8 bucks an hour.... A big gap.

Fast forward to 2008. Union scale for a union pipe welder in my area is around 28 an hour. Yet I see jobs posted all the time on craigslist, Monster.com and careerbuilder.com for 15 dollars an hour for pipe welders. It's like they are not aware of the shortage of welders. Whats up with that?

I will repeat. If you work for the money, and seriously, who doesn’t? Union jobs pay better most of the time. Now don't go all crazy talking about union dues. Yes there are union dues to pay. But they are minimal compared to the extra hourly scale you make as a journeyman union welder. Since there is a shortage of welders in this country, there is opportunity.

Before you start thinking I am all pro union...don't.

I try to remain neutral on the topic...Its kind of like politics to me.

I am only talking about making more money.....

Local union 72 in Atlanta GA is just one of many local union halls that has a fine welding training program that is trying to address the shortage of welders.

It is run by a fella named Cajun Seeger....now aint that a perfect name for a welder?

[I used to be a certified TIG welder back in the day. In this particular case "the day" was the early 80's. I worked second shift at Stewart Warner, and I liked to stop at the Bulldog Lounge on College Avenue on my way home for a couple of beers and a game or two of Galaga.]