Since you were little, you’ve been asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Now that high school graduation is on the horizon, it’s time to start really thinking about career options. There are many factors to consider, like how easy it is to find a job in your field, how much education or training is required, and how much jobs usually pay.
But, also consider this – the average age of retirement for Americans is 63. That’s a long time to be doing a job that you hate. So you don’t just want just any career that comes along – you want one that you’re excited about and is something you can take pride in.
Have you ever thought about getting into welding? It’s not your typical job – and we mean that in a good way. It’s a career that can allow you to make a great living that also fits with many different personal interests. You should consider welding if you…
Like working with your hands?
As a welder, you get to make real things – not just staring at a computer screen all day. It’s a rewarding feeling to see pieces of metal turn into an item you can hold, a product you can use, or a structure you can show someone and say, “I helped build that.” You can also use your welding skills to work on personal projects, from building furniture to repairing car.
Welding jobs can take you around the country or even the world. Pipeline welders are needed from Alaska all the way down to Texas. Shipyards around the globe need welders to build and repair massive ships. You can live aboard a cruise ship while working on repairs and maintenance. There’s even a community of “Road Warriors” who drive around the U.S. from one welding project to another.
Not only can welding introduce you to many different locations but you’ll also meet other welders or workers from around the world. It’s a great way to learn about different places and cultures.
Want to be part of big events or attractions?
From the Super Bowl to parades to concerts, major events need to build custom platforms and structures. That’s where metal fabricators come in, and one of the key processes they use is welding.
The same thing can be said for big attractions like amusement parks, stadiums, touring trailers and basically any large structure that is made with metal. There are companies that specialize in fabrication for promotions and events, giving you a chance to work on different exciting projects.
Have a need for speed?
Welding is a must-have process in motorsports – from NASCAR to motorcycles to monster trucks. Joining the right metals makes these vehicles as lightweight and strong as possible. As a welder, you can be part of a team that builds custom frames or performs necessary repairs.
If the sky is more of your thing, welding is also important in the aerospace industry. Using advanced welding techniques and working with specialized metal alloys, you can help build rockets for NASA, aircrafts for the military or commercial airplanes.
Like playing with new technology?
If you think getting your hands on the latest phone or gaming system is exciting, wait until you see the type of cutting-edge equipment that’s used in the welding and fabrication industry. There aren’t many jobs out there where you get to use robotics, laser cutter computer programming and other gadgets. You could work in high-tech industries like wind towers, natural gas liquefaction, submarines, and more. Welding is also an important part of new technologies such as laser metal deposition manufacturing, which like 3D printing for metal components.
Want to be involved in showbusiness?
When shooting movies or TV shows, set crews and prop makers need to get creative to make the scene look “real” without breaking the budget. So they use many fabrication techniques, including welding, to make whatever the script calls for, whether it’s fake set environments, stunt cars, custom platforms or anything in between. In addition to being used behind the scenes, welding has also been featured in many films and shows.
Enjoy making a difference?
You may not realize it until now but so much of our daily lives depend on welding. Cars, bridges, buildings, airplanes – they can only be safe to use because of welding. Welders are needed to build and maintain the pipelines, wind towers, and power plants to give us electricity. The examples are endless.
However, predictions say that there will be a shortage of over 375,000 skilled welders by 2023 (Emsi 2019). That means there won’t be enough workers to fill all the jobs needed. By getting into a career in welding now, you’ll play an important role in keeping your community and country safe and productive.
Dream of being your own boss?
Owning your own business is part of the American dream. And with welding, you can make it a reality. If you develop the right in-demand skills, you can start your own welding or fabrication company and hire employees to grow the business.
You can also go the solo route and be a freelance welder where companies can hire you for a short-term contract to complete a specific job. Once that project is over, you can move on to the next one. Being your own boss has many perks, including setting your own pay rate, schedule, ability to travel and choosing the work that interests you the most.
How to become a welder
If you want a career that allows you to pursue your passion and get paid very well for doing it, welding may be just what you’re looking for. To become a welder, you can see if your high school offers welding classes through a technical program. Or, after graduation, you can get a welding certificate at a technical school, earn an associate degree at a community college or start an apprenticeship.
To start your search for welding schools in your area, visit CareersInWelding.com.
This article originally appeared on WeldingDigest.com