These days, the job market is tough for young people. We’ve all seen entry level positions which ask for years of experience. Often, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door. A welding apprenticeship is the perfect way to gain experience in an in-demand job.
In fact, becoming a qualified welder will open countless doors for you at home and abroad.
Apprenticeships are aimed at on-the-job learning, as well as getting paid to learn a new skill. This is an excellent alternative to academic education, as you’ll learn the skills that employers need in your local area. You’ll also gain practical experience from day one.
This article is all about how to prepare for a welding apprenticeship. Whether you’re about to start a new role, or you’re considering a career as a welder, read on for important information on how to make the most of your apprenticeship.
What can You Expect as a Welding Apprentice?
First, it’s important to think about what life will be like as a welding apprentice. Most apprenticeships are offered by small-to-medium sized companies. This means that you may be given quite a lot of responsibility relatively quickly.
Remember, your employer’s goal is for you to become a fully-fledged member of the team.
At first, you might be responsible for basic tasks like cleaning the workshop and equipment. Then, as you learn more about welding, you’ll gradually be given more hands-on responsibilities.
No matter what tasks you’re working on, you should consider it a chance to prove your work ethic and determination to your new employer.
To prepare yourself, you can read up on the different types of welding. You should also learn as much as you can about the company you’ll be working for, and what kind of projects you’ll be involved in.
Welders work in a variety of different settings. Depending on your employer, you might be in a workshop, on client sites, or a mixture of both. Obviously, you should know this before your first day.
To prepare for your welding apprenticeship, you should also be ready to work under pressure. Welding projects often involve tight deadlines. As well as this, the nature of the work can often be stressful, as welding is a loud process which produces a lot of heat.
This might take some getting used to, but remember that your employer’s job is to help you settle into your new role.
Keeping Safe During your Welding Apprenticeship
Welding can be a dangerous job. From injuries, to longer term health issues, there are a lot of risks involved in being a welder. As such, welding safety is absolutely critical. Luckily, if you follow certain rules, these risks can mostly be avoided.
As a welding apprentice, your top priority should be to listen to and follow instructions.
Apprentices have the benefit of learning their trade from professionals with years of experience. A huge part of this is learning how to weld safely as a beginner.
When your mentor tells you to hold your torch a certain way, or keep your workstation organised, they aren’t just making conversation. Experienced welders know first hand how things can go wrong. Always take their advice to heart, and they’ll keep you right.
What Equipment does a Welding Apprentice Need?
When you accept a welding apprenticeship, it can be tempting to immediately go out shopping for new gear. After all, you’re excited to get started with your new career. However, it’s vital that you speak to your employer about what equipment you’ll actually need.
For example, it’s pretty unlikely that your employer will require you to supply your own welding machine. However, you might still want to purchase an entry-level welding machine of your own to practice on small projects at home.
Your employer will also understand the exact PPE which is appropriate for your work.
However, there are a few things which will help you make the most of your welding apprenticeship, that your employer may not provide for you.
For instance, it’s a good idea to have a pen and paper near to hand at all times, in order to take notes. Your apprenticeship will mostly involve hands-on learning. Writing key information down will help you to remember it.
Similarly, a personal diary or calendar will make it much easier to track your progress and set goals for yourself during your welding apprenticeship.
What other Skills do You Need as a Welder?
Obviously, no-one expects you to know everything about welding from day one. The whole point of an apprenticeship is for you to learn how to weld professionally. A little bit of experience can never hurt, but it’s definitely not a requirement.
So, what makes a ‘good’ welding apprentice?
For any apprenticeship, the most important skills you can have are transferable ones.
If you look at job ads for welders’ apprentices, they almost never ask for prior experience. Instead, most of them emphasise soft skills like teamwork and good time management.
The whole point of an apprenticeship is to teach you new skills. Because of this, employers simply want to know that you’re going to be a hard working, enthusiastic employee, and that you’re going to follow instructions.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Starting an apprenticeship can be scary. After all, you’re joining a new company as the least experienced member of the team. An apprenticeship might even be your first experience in the workplace.
Still, you shouldn’t let this intimidate you.
Specifically, employers love new employees who speak up and ask questions. This shows them that you’re eager to learn how to do your job properly.
It’s important to remember that asking experienced colleagues questions doesn’t mean you’re wasting their time. You’re all part of a team, working towards the same goals. The more you learn from them, the better the whole team will work.
This is best for everyone.
Welding Apprenticeships: Next Steps
If you want to get the most out of your welding apprenticeship, it’s never too early to start thinking about your next steps. That is, where would you like to go in your welding career? After all, welders have a range of career paths open to them.
For example, maybe eventually you’d like to specialise in automotive welding. Alternatively, maybe you’ve always wanted to run your own firm, and you’d like to get a better insight into how to run a welding business.
In fact, there are countless highly specialised types of welding. These are sometimes referred to as ‘super skills’. Many of these can lead to very highly paid jobs, and allow you to travel the world.
Here are just a few of the amazing places a welding apprenticeship can eventually lead you:
- Underwater welding -These are some of the most highly specialised welders around, working on the likes of oil rigs and undersea cables around the world.
- Aerospace – Welders in the aerospace industry are often highly paid. These jobs require a combination of meticulous attention to detail and the ability to learn new techniques quickly.
- Nuclear – There are also welders who specialise in the nuclear power industry. This requires a range of additional qualifications and clearances. However, once qualified you can expect a lucrative career, with the potential to travel internationally.
In any case, having a clear idea of what you’d like to do after your welding apprenticeship is a great way to set short term goals, and stay motivated. On top of this, when your employer knows your goals, they’ll be in a good position to support you in reaching them.
Ultimately, what you get out of your welding apprenticeship will depend on what you put into it. As we’ve said several times already, the most important thing is that you are ready to work hard and learn your craft.