How much training is needed

Kinda long and part 1 of ??

One of the common questions I get from potential welding students is ” How much training does it take to be a welder.”

There is absolutely no way to answer that accurately based upon my knowledge. Sure, there are schools that tell you how long their course is and that they have job placement of xx percent. So I guess that’s one way to look at it. But I don’t think that fully tells the story.

As with anything, there are various levels of skill and ability. I’m only familiar with mine and some of the other welders I’ve been around. And even though I have been a welder for 30+ years I am NOT the authority on all things welding. Nor am I all that great of a welder. I just love it.

Here is some of my experience. This will explain how it (how much training) was for me.
I 1st welded in 9th grade metal shop in High School at Kickapoo High School. Filled a piece of 2” angle with 6013 and sawed it in two. I decided then I wanted to weld. We later moved to Memphis that school year and I signed up for Welding I at Kingsbury Vocational Center. From then through my senior year, I was in welding for 3 hours a day. I loved it. I stayed in the booth as much as I could. I read everything I could find about welding. I used to lust after the Jefferson’s Welding Encyclopedia that my Welding teacher and later close friend Ed Hemingway had. There is no telling what i would know if i had the internet back then.Point is, I put a good amount of time into welding. Even worked quite a few 30+ hours weeks at Coleman Engineering in Memphis MIG welding (GMAW) on portable lighting trailers.

But even after graduating, I still had more to learn. I joined the Navy as a Hull Maintenance technician. Their basic school was 11 weeks or so long. The metalworking portion was self paced and I finished quickly. I then went on to the ”Navy C-1 Welding School ” in San Diego. It was 30 weeks long for 8 hours a day. That’s 1200 more hours of just training.

I then spent another 5 years or so as a welder repairing nuclear powered submarine’s. I was able to do that job OK. Then I got out of the Navy. Figured I could handle anything the world of welding threw at me. Well, I was wrong. Worked at Lambs Machine Works where I learned to braze cast iron, build up shafts for machining using GMAW, weld overlay pump housings with stellite and other things. They taught me things I didn’t learn in all the training I had gone through. Sure I was able to do many of the tasks but the point is I was still learning.

I next decided I wanted to get back into pipe welding. Saw an ad for a company needing stainless tig welders. Well, I had done quite a bit of that in the Navy. So I went for a test. It was a 4 inch schedule 10 test welded with GTAW. And of course prior to the test I boasted how many xrayed welds I had done in the Navy and blah blah blah. I tacked it up and after the inspector looked at it I put a root pass in it. I had never taken an open root test before. Everything in the Navy was with a consumable insert. It looked OK I thought but the inspector indicated it looked a little rough. Hmmmm. I then capped it out and I thought it looked pretty good. The inspector came back and said ” ….. looks a little rough” . I got a little offended and asked him what it should look like. He showed me a sample and I told him ”That was done by a machine. ” He said it was not. He asked me how long I had been ”walking the cup ”. I indicated I didn’t know what he was talking about. Obviously I had not had enough training. I was an ex Navy nuclear welder with all kinds of training and experience and was about to fail a simple pipe test!

When he found out I did not ”walk the cup ” he said ”your hired” . I was blessed with making almost all the position welds while those who could ”Walk the cup ” took care of all the welds made in a jackstand.

I had more to learn… MUCH More.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s