WELD LIKE A GIRL! Tips for Women in the Welding Industry
(excerpt originally posted at Miller Electric’s Viewpoints Blog)
by Jennifer Simpson
Until I joined the industry (on the sales and marketing side at Arc-Zone.com) I had no idea that welding was a good career option. And it’s not just “a man’s job” either.
It’s estimated that only 5% of welders in the U.S. are women. It’s also estimated (by the American Welding Society) that there is a potential shortage of 200,000 skilled welders by 2010.
Add to this the fact that women still earn only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, and it’s easy to see that welding offers a great opportunity for women– the median hourly wage for a welder is $15.51 (1), though highly skilled welders can earn even more.
Since many women I know either don’t know much about welding as a career or have a lot of misconceptions about welding as a job, I have compiled this list of tips. I recruited a couple of welding instructors including (Tony Marsden who taught at the Simi Valley Career Institute and Nancy Wood who taught at Palomar College. I also rounded up some my social media friends as well, and here’s what we came up with:
KNOWLEDGE IS KING QUEEN
The advice I hear most often from welders, both men and women is that training and experience will take you far. Take classes in all forms of welding and learn the how’s and why’s behind everything you do…. you can read the rest of this tip over at the MillerWelds.com site….
BE AS PROFESSIONAL AS POSSIBLE
The way you dress and the way you conduct yourself is going to impact how people treat you. Never ever get involved with anyone in a supervisory capacity as it may give the impression that you can’t legitimately do your job and you will be treated by your co-workers accordingly. This is good advice for anyone in the job market, but especially in a male dominated environment.
DEVELOP A TOUGH SKIN
Language on the job may seem crude and you may have to over look some bad jokes. You may also have to learn to call people on the bad behavior. When someone says something offensive, deal with it right then and there and don’t internalize it.
That said, be clear on what is acceptable. Wood says, “Remember it is a man’s world you have chosen to work in, but you do not need to bow to harassment on any job.”
Marsden notes that gender issues are still out their but disappearing rapidly. “If you are not comfortable with the attitude of the owner/foreman don’t take the job,” he says.
LOVE WHAT YOU DO or QUALITY COUNTS
You must take pride in your work and focus on doing each and every weld to the best of your ability. Also, diversify your skills as it will make you much more valuable to your employer, or ready to take any job offer that might come your way.
KNOW THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE
When working on a job site, you’ll come into contact with a lot of equipment and tools. Take the time to learn how to properly use and care for them, keeping safety in mind at all times. Go down to the tool stores and learn. Good tools in the trade can make your job easier and increase the quality of your work. Besides, Wood notes, “Men on the job sites are always impressed when they see a lady that knows how to handle the tools of the trade.”
I believe that armed with these tips, some solid training and confidence, welding is an excellent career choice for any woman. Need more inspiration? Read about real-life woman welder Jessi Combs in her interview with the Carmen Electrode blog.
Good Work Sister poster image from the Library of Congress— Back in World War II nearly three million women worked in defense plants, many of them as welders!