Our favorite quote from Shauna’s introduction to her life as a welder would have to be: “I think at the end of the day, if your face and hands are covered in dirt, it’s been a great and productive day.”
We quite agree with you on that! Read on to find out more about this welder chic!
My name is Shauna Rae Hall and I am currently living in Calgary, Alberta Canada. I work at a company called NGC Compression Solutions. I am one of the four certified Journeyman red seal welders working in the fabrication shop at the moment.
My hobbies include camping, dirt biking, exploring nature, photography and of course welding.
I have been welding for about five years now, since I was seventeen. Back when I was still in high school I had never even imagined that I would be welding for a career. All throughout school I was taking cosmetology, cutting hair, doing facials… When it came time to graduate and start planning for my future I started looking at industries that had the most demand at the time, which turned out to be welding and construction.
I pretty much talked to my dad about it and got some more information about what welding was like and what it took to become certified in the industry. I knew right away that I wasn’t interested in an office job. I wanted to prove myself in the world, and to my father. So I guess a big part of why I became a welder was for my dad and to make him proud of me. I decided to take a pre-employment welding course to gain more knowledge in the trade and basically learn how to weld and what was really going on once you strike that arc.
After taking the program it took me quite some time to get a job in a shop — probably about eight months or so. I noticed a lot of companies that I applied at weren’t interested in hiring individuals with no experience. I finally got a break when a family friend found out about a position opening up at the company she was working for. She gave me a good reference upon arriving with my resume. That afternoon I received a phone call with a job offer and started work the following Monday. After a few months I signed up with the Alberta apprenticeship board — this was in late 2005.
For my apprenticeship training I attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in their Polytechnics program. At work right now, I mostly use Gas Metal Arc welding (GMAW). We run metal cored 0.45 wire. We also do some Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) when needed. I feel more comfortable welding stick and mig obviously.
I love working in a fabrication shop. I always put my best effort into every project and I really enjoy saying “I built that”. I think at the end of the day, if your face and hands are covered in dirt, it’s been a great and productive day. I really enjoy welding Gas Tungsten arc welding (TIG) as well. I like how clean the weld is and how much hand eye coordination you need to be able to have a good looking product.
For my whole apprenticeship I’ve only worked at two shops — both fabrication shops, just different kinds of production. For my first job, I built average sized skids for an industrial air conditioning company, mostly using c-shaped channel. At that shop I was able to weld a lot of different types of metal. I learned how to weld structural aluminum as well as lighter gauged material. I also spent a fair amount of time welding stainless steel and aluminum using tig.
At the shop I work at now, we’re building custom natural gas compression units using a lot of heavy W shape beam for the base of the skid. I really enjoy it because you have to fabricate projects using a lot of personal experience and knowledge. I am also interested in doing some artistic welding once I can purchase my own welding unit to use at my house. When I first started out in the industry I did experience a fair amount of discrimination. I was having quite a hard time finding a job.
I’ve heard a lot of different excuses going from not having proper facilities for women to employers thinking I wouldn’t be able to lift enough weight. You also grow a pretty tough skin in welding. A lot of things that guys say can be mistaken; you have to learn how to take criticism as well as eventually give it. I’ve realized now that companies are looking for knowledgable individuals who know what they’re doing and are great at what they do.
I always enjoyed technical training. Shop class was my most favourite time in school. I remember in my second year I had received the highest mark for our practical in flux cored GMAW. That’s definitely one of my greatest memories…
If I were to give any advice for girls or women looking to get into the trade, I’d have to say first of all that you don’t necessarily have to fall into any stereotype that women have to work in an office or be a nurse… You can do anything you want — whatever interests you the most, whether it be mechanics, plumbing, construction or welding. Just remember you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
If you’re interested in working in the industry, no matter what type of industry it is, when you’re applying for a job, come in prepared to work, as if you already got a position in the company. More than likely the employer will think pretty highly of you… I’ve learned this from experience and seeing some people attempting to succeed that unfortunately don’t make it.
Work hard and know your theory. You should definitely know how to set up your machine properly, replace a spool of wire, and know how to troubleshoot almost any problem that occurs with your drive rolls and wire feed system. Knowing how to properly fix problems without asking for help shows a lot about your skills, and in the end it’s a lot easier and quicker so that you can get back to your work faster.