Why did you become a welder?
Is it because you love it? Believe it or not, most welders love it. I know welders who are also electricians, corporate pilots, real estate brokers – you name it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of welding jobs that don’t pay that well. Here’s one that does, and how to beat the “powers that be” at their own game.
Can you balance a spinning basketball on your finger?
Can you ride a unicycle? Can you do tricks with a skateboard? Can you snowboard or surf? Can you do a back flip from a standing position on concrete? Can you play the guitar or another instrument well? If you can do one or more of these things, you know the process to becoming a pipe welder – it is practicing on the edge of your ability, a lot, period.
Now, when you couldn’t get that riff on the guitar the first time or the second time, did you quit?
Nope. You just did it until your fingers bled, didn’t you? So, what are we talking about here? Great pipe welders weld test joints well beyond the point at which they certify to be 6G. Look, if you’ve been to pipe school, you know that you don’t get enough practice time with all the BS that goes on. You can’t be welding pipe when you’re doing anything else other than welding pipe, can you?
If what I’m saying wasn’t true, a lot more pipe welders would come out of pipe school.
How bad is it? A private pipe school which puts 120 pipe welding students through a 3 months long, $9,000 class, will typically end up with 10 to 18 welders who finish the course certified in 6G. How about them apples?
How can you beat the game?
Set up at home or in a friend’s shop and start practicing. The dirty little secret the industry doesn’t want you know is this: When the rubber meets the road, no one (in the USA) cares what you know about fitting pipe (other than what a properly prepared joint is like). No one cares what school or schools you went to. They are not too concerned if you can’t read.
They don’t even care what certifications you have other than 6G.
Why? Because every certification that is below 6G is YOURS the day you certify 6G. The AWS figures that if you can weld an open root on a round pipe joint that is in a fixed 45 degree position with enough quality that it will pass X-Ray, then by golly, they’ll just give you the other certifications.
It takes energy, determination, some equipment, for a total of about $2,000 to teach your self to weld pipe like a pro (and certify 6G) in 60 days or less – even if you have never welded before in your life. Not everyone has what it takes to make it through.