Tips for Women in the Welding Industry

Share

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.

Good Work Sister!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.

NOTES

(1) US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2007 data

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!

What’s the best advice you would offer a woman entering the welding industry?

Share

85 comments on “Tips for Women in the Welding Industry”:

  1. Pingback: Tig Welder Pro » Blog Archive » Weld / Blog Like A Girl™

  2. Pingback: Tig Welder Pro » Blog Archive » Women Welders in the Workplace™

  3. Pingback: Carmen Electrode dot Com » Blog Archive » Carmen Loves News 8 Austin!™

  4. Pingback: Carmen Electrode dot Com » Blog Archive » New Welding DVDs at Arc-Zone.com™

    1. Audrey

      I went to school and got all my certificates. No one wants to hire a female or an entry level welder. No one will give me a chance. It depresses me to know that I spent the money and time on something I can’t even find work in.

      Like (56)
      Reply
      1. Beverly

        Are you able to move out of the state where you are? Perhaps broadening your horizons a little. Are they specifically telling you they won’t hire you because you’re female? You can always talk to the unions, see if there is recourse.

        Like (8)
        Reply
      2. Dez

        Apply with a company that is doing field work such as refinery or paper mill shutdown or new construction (you can Google anything nowadays). I am a pipe welder so my welds are Xrayed if I pass test I’m hired If you are a structural welder there a tons of jobs in the ship yards. I earned my respect from QC,management and my peers by my work . And paid exactly the same. Now as for working in the fabrication shops in Tulsa Ok it’s been a different story as it is in the bible belt and there is a general sexist tone in the society here which is double in any male dominated field. Just don’t settle down in an area that doesn’t employ women in the any of the trades such as electricians, plumbers, equipment operator machinist etc. The statistics are available for just about anywhere by googling it.

        Like (10)
        Reply
          1. Linda loo

            I’m not sure if the U.S.A. Has a federal trades ticket for welding. Canada has C.W.B. Here, if you passed and earned your ticket, it’s an eye opener for potential employers. Local community college certificates are not seen as the national standard. I think in America you have AWS? Some college courses do include the federal test as well as their own certificate course. I hope this helps.

            Like (9)
        1. Kay

          I have been looking for a woman to say that. All I usually hear is the union is no place for a woman. I wanted to know if they actually take care of you and find you work?

          Like (2)
          Reply
      3. Wendi

        I had the same problem but I got a job in a factory painting autoparts we had a tooling department that fabricates the tooling that was used for hanging parts on I went every day and bugged the supervisor into letting me take a weld test then I worked overtime everyday after my regular shift to prove I could handle the job I was just hired full time it seems unfair that I had to prove myself but it was worth it I earned their respect

        Like (8)
        Reply
      4. Berta

        Keep your head up!
        A little white lie won’t hurt if you say you have “experience”. To get yourself in the door, that’s my suggestion.

        Like (4)
        Reply
      5. Rere

        Me too 😩😩😩just got a job as a welder helper and it’s the worst the yard won’t let me take weld test to certify ABS so I made the statement let me find out your bias towards women welders and I was called in a meeting the next day and belittle

        Like (2)
        Reply
      6. Elizabeth

        Not true. A lot of people don’t want to hire someone who went to school and goes on about certification this certification that. I am a women I’ve built govement building. Welding is like breathing to me yet I Never went to school for any of it. You need to not worry about being certified and worry about being the best and not a distraction.

        Like (4)
        Reply
  5. Issa

    Trying to get certified 🙂 there are only 2 females in my class ,myself included. I love welding and hope to find a decent job once I get certified .

    Like (20)
    Reply
  6. Vicky

    What are your thoughts about choosing the right school, ladies? I have searched the internet trying to weigh the pro’s and con’s of a local community college vs going to one of the ‘big three’ schools of welding. I can manage to relocate if it is something that will pay off in the end. Do the students from those schools have any advantage over the community colleges? One of the programs I saw was 9 months and I would get out with 4 certifications. I would think its all about the certs, right? Any insight into this decision process would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Like (23)
    Reply
    1. Kelly. I'm a Guy.

      You have to certify for every job you go for so school cert don’t mean anything until your testing for a job. I went to a tech school and passed everything with flying colors but until I got in the field I really didn’t know crap. That is when you really start your education.
      Good Luck
      kp

      Like (14)
      Reply
    2. Ash

      Logically, yes the more certifications, the better. Because the key to any successful welder is to know as much as possible. Realistically, not quite sure. Regular diploma’s have little value anymore. The main idea is to learn, practice, and don’t give up! Anyone with ambition, good work ethic, attention to detail, who takes pride in their work and strives for excellence can be a welder. Best of luck to you and God bless~

      Like (11)
      Reply
    3. Dez

      A good community college is a great place to learn the basics and all you need to know to pass any test pipe or plate. No course that takes a year and cost 20-30 thousand dollars is any better just. Makes you think that by adding a lot of things to course that is not relevant. On the job and repetition will teach the things to become expert. Before choosing a school , I suggest as a woman. Most of you may already have children or intend to some day. If u have kids , you may want to settle near family as you will need some trusted people to assist with your kids you will be expected to work 50-70 hrs a week. No such thing as a 40 hr work week unless a lay off is coming. Also if you know what you want to specialize in do it if you want to weld aluminum using A/C high frequency Tig find a place that offers that. It pays the best and aircraft industry employs them so if you learn that and are good. You need to locate to a place that will employ you. I hope this helps. No one told me this stuff and when I learned 22yrs ago there was no internet to read or post info. You can make a ton of money . Not ideal if you have lil kids. No job cares about that they want you at work welding if you can’t do the hours you will get fired.. unless you belong to a union. Good luck

      Like (6)
      Reply
  7. Bekah

    Help! I just got my mig welding certificate and having trouble finding a job. Love welding want to get a job an learn more.. can anyone help

    Like (7)
    Reply
    1. Jessica

      I think I’m a little late commenting on this post. I went to a community college, only for 4 months. I just wanted to get my foot in the door to be a steamfitter. I went to community college got a basic stick cert on vertical plate. no debt. got into the steamfitter apprenticeship. I now have 4 pipe certs (was trained for free) have a great wage and full benefits. I work with a lot of guys the went to technical schools, that are paying back huge loans. I guess it’s whatever route you want to take. I’m a single mom and taking out loans and not working for 2 years wasn’t an option for me. I would recommend apprenticeships, because they pay you to learn on the job.

      Like (11)
      Reply
  8. Kaity

    I became a stainless steel tig welder right out of college and have been with my company for two years now. I love what I do and wish to see many more women become serious about welding as a career. It will always have its challenges but overcoming them make it very rewarding

    Like (8)
    Reply
  9. Kelly. I'm a Guy.

    I am a male owner of a design group that makes steel and wood furniture including a lot of blacksmith work . I have (not by choice) an all female staff. It just so happened that they were the ones to most commit to the rigors of the the changing pace that is part of our daily routine. We even had one that was so committed to learning the trade that she worked for free for three weeks until I couldn’t take it anymore and had to put her on the payroll.
    The last girl I had there is now running a successful business of her own and does shows all over the southeast and I’m sure to lose another to her own endeavors within a year.
    I think the key to our success is
    1 clear boundaries
    2 communication
    3 I teach them everything they need to know to start their own business (what tools work best for the money, how to bid a project, communicating with the customer etc…

    The Pros.
    follow instructions
    pay attention to details
    learn quickly
    great focus

    The Cons.
    lack strength for some projects which we are able to work together to get past
    can be a little timid at first but that is quickly overcome

    My 15yo daughter can weld circles around most dudes I know and has been able to since she was 8 or 9
    I love my staff and respect them so much.

    Kelly Prestwood
    MatrixDesign-Group.com

    p.s. they are the ones with the blue language issue. ha

    Like (44)
    Reply
    1. marjury

      I’m already studying the welder smaw with in 45days only.am wnted to wrk o the cmpany.welding in abroad is my wish job i love welder.

      Like (2)
      Reply
  10. Samantha

    Im Still In High School But I Go To Welding In CTE , Im The Only Girl I Weld In a Class With Other High Schoolers And Also Grown Men .. When I Get The Time I Even Weld In The Garage With My Dad .. So Id Say I Love Welding Also !

    Like (1)
    Reply
  11. Margaret

    Great article. I love welding and I’ve already tried welding a couple of things in our garage with my dad. It feels great to have this kind of a skill known. I hope a lot more women open up and come out in to this vast field of opportunities. I’m thinking of joining a welding training in Canada. Does anyone have any suggestions regarding which welding course to take or where I should join?

    Like (5)
    Reply
  12. Kenneisha

    I’m a high school student and I’m currently enrolled in an A.W.S class and I enjoy it very much. I want to learn everything about it and would thankful if anyone had tips.

    Like (1)
    Reply
  13. Cyndi

    I’m currently unemployed. Was in the office environment for 30 years. Always felt like a fish out of water. I have an opportunity to take a free welding course at the community college here in Michigan. I love creating things and years ago in high school took all the shop classes and did very well. Anyone here in michigan, women who have gotten welding jobs? Just looking for any advice on if this could be a good career change.

    Like (2)
    Reply
    1. Heidi

      Way late replying to this but I’m also in Michigan and getting signed up for a free certification thru miworks.
      Any luck with getting a job after this course?

      Like (0)
      Reply
  14. sheryl

    just like previous female Amanda, I’m looking for a big change, i’m older, unemployed,lost my job 1 year ago from a company that wants to outsource overseas, i’m been looking into welding, looking for apprentiships in the atlanta area, pls help!!!!!!!

    Like (2)
    Reply
    1. Erica

      HI Sheryl. I’m also older. And looking to get in to welding. I know you posted this ages ago but am wondering how you are doing? Did it work out for you? I’ve been told that it isn’t a good choice for me as its a lot of heavy work … what did you think?

      Like (4)
      Reply
  15. henie

    im an LPN whos looking to make a career change. i want to be a welder. Right now im doing a lot of research but have been discouraged by some because i am a woman. That’s what lead me to your website. Thank you by the way for your article. Its very helpful and encouraging. I had a question though, I am of short stature lol and i was wondering what kind of physical challenges female welder face.

    thank you

    Like (6)
    Reply
  16. Stef

    I’ve been a welder for 10 years, for the most part I enjoy it very much. Currently in my last course as a third year metal fitter, soon to be red seal. Wow what a journey this has been. Everyday there is a new challenge, I wish everyone luck. Keep pushing and be tough! I still ask myself what direction I would like to take this career to next. 18 welding / fabricating, erecting shops later. Keep it coming !

    Like (3)
    Reply
  17. Dawn

    Hi everyone. I graduated from HoHokus School of Trade in Paterson, NJ back in June. I completed an 18 month program in Manufacturing Technologies. I have my welding certs & won awards for Most Dedicated & Perfect Attendance. I am having a lot of trouble finding a job. I think it’s my confidence level. I absolutely love welding but my school wasn’t a very good school & there was so much they didn’t teach us. I am willing to work for minimum wage just to get the experience. I live in Northern NJ. If anyone knows of anything I would be forever grateful. Thank you so much

    Like (1)
    Reply
  18. CARYN

    MY HAT’S OFF TO ALL OF YOU WOMEN WELDERS OUT THERE……..I AM A PROUD MOTHER OF 2 GIRLS WHO WELD………19 AND 17 YEARS OLD WHO ARE CURRENTLY IN A 2 YEAR WELDING PROGRAM. I AM LOOKING FOR ADVICE AS WE ARE CURRENTLY IN UPSTATE NEW YORK WHERE THERE ARE VERY FEW WELDING OPPORTUNITIES, FOR MEN OR WOMEN. WHERE ON THE EAST COAST IS A GOOD PLACE FOR WOMEN WELDERS ?? ANY INFO OR HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED ….THANK YOU !!

    Like (1)
    Reply
  19. Diana Diaz

    I am 21 years old, single mother of a 10 month old.. Took welding in high school and now reconsiderin as making it my career. I need to make money as soon as possible. Even though i was the only girl in class i was the best one. Im just afraid no one will want to hire me for being a woman.

    Like (2)
    Reply
  20. Zanele

    My name Zanele m 33 years I did a welding course and I can’t find a job I need anyjob I can find so that I can get an experience I love welding with all my heart

    Like (2)
    Reply
  21. WelderKate

    I’m a little sad to hear you all say that you can’t find work….. I live in Sanford NC and there are welding jobs a plenty out here! It’s helpful to go to some of the contractors face to face and talk with them about the fact that you are a welder and have had formal education/ certification in it. Many of them are very desperate for good welders that will be reliable and accountable at a job site…… I find that networking helps tremendously when you’re looking for the right job situation (one YOU the female feel comfortable working in). Remember to maintain a very professional attitude and if you for ANY reason feel uncomfortable with working for someone or you feel you are being a little harassed or teased, DON’T tolerate it! You are equal to the other workers in every respect. My prayers and blessings to all the female welders out there who all kick butt!

    Like (3)
    Reply
  22. weldinghelmethq

    This is very important tips for women.Now a days women worker increase day by day. To promote their carrier they should know more information and safety in welding. This is very risky job and you should know how to safe your body in welding. i have a site about safety welding please visit this…
    http://weldinghelmethq.com/

    Like (0)
    Reply
  23. Angelica

    Hey! I’m a young student, still in highschool, and I’ve been doing this concurrent program they have where I can do college and highschool at the same time for free. I signed up for the welding course and fell in love with it almost instantly even though I was the only girl and no one spoke to me except my teacher. It’s been a passion since I started but I got dropped my second semester due to an almost fatal car accident. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on welding and I guess I need some advice on this. I was the best in both classes and I was the only female. I love to weld but I’m not sure if it will become a very good occupation. Some say it makes a lot of money while others don’t. I planned on signing up for the welding course again next year but I’ve become unsure of it now due to the fact that its getting harder to find welding jobs and the pay seems to be lower than I anticipated. Can someone give me some real information on welding and the schooling, pay, certification, ect.?

    Like (5)
    Reply
    1. Carmen

      If you’re good, you can make decent money. And there will always be jobs for welders, especially good ones, either in manufacturing or repair work. My advice is do what you love doing and do it well. And always be learning. And remember, there will be lots of opportunities to change course along the way. Also, join some of the online forums on Facebook and look into the American Welding Society (www.aws.org) to see if there is a chapter in your area– meet folks working in the industry. good luck!

      Like (1)
      Reply
  24. Jo

    Hello woman welders out there! I have been in the welding field for 15 years! I’ve worked mainly in manufacturing. Now these places are very Sex discrimitive and they will do whatever it takes to get you fired. These are all man shop! No matter what you do it’s never good enough! I’ve never went to school to weld all hands on training! From what I’m reading a lot of these woman are going to school and not benefiting from it at all. I just wish I could find a shop that is all woman and can all work together as a team. Is there such a place? Or I just havn’t found it yet! I love welding I can’t get enough of it. I’ve done Tig, Mig, Flux, Stick. I’ve basically done it all! It’s hard working in this man infested world trying to do your job w/o getting a bad rep from them. This sex discrimination it is not right. We have every right to do this job as much as the next guy! I’m tired always defending myself with this day in n day out! I love my job but I have to say the atomospere sucks!

    Like (1)
    Reply
  25. Tassie

    I’m planning on taking an oxy acetylene class as a sophomore in high school. I’m planning on taking more welding classes next year, getting certified, and possibly finding a job. Does anyone have any tips for how to find a job as a women? Will a company hire a sixteen year old?

    Like (0)
    Reply
  26. Bennett Smith

    I never think about the idea that women can do welding. Great tips. Special the one be as professional as personal. These tips can be used in different works rather than welding also. I also recommended JK welding!

    Like (0)
    Reply
  27. Simone

    How tough are the physical requirements for welding? I’m 5’1″ and 97 lbs. I still shop for clothes in the kids’ section. My 6’0″ boyfriend and I are renovating a foreclosed farm, and over and over I notice how I don’t have the physical strength like he does. Things like being unable to handle heavy tools for a long period of time, or not having the upper body strength to push/pull/bend/hammer/lift etc like he does. If I had a dollar for every time I had to ask him for help because I was physically unable to do something! Add in a history of lower back trouble, and I’m feeling very discouraged. I know muscles and back strength build up over time, but is there any way someone my size could realistically be a welder? Are there any other similar careers out there that can be done by very small people?

    Like (4)
    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      Welding is very physical you need to be able to lift a minimum of 50lbs anyone who needs help with something because it’s to heavy or they can’t drive a forklift is a distraction

      Like (0)
      Reply
  28. Gregory

    Sometimes i think its better working with females than with males, they are really open up and does the job exactly as you say !

    Like (2)
    Reply
  29. Caroline

    It’s really stimulating for the involvement of female welders in welding industry. I have been serving a fabrication industry as a welding inspector and met many of female welders in my career. Their performance was really appreciable. Thanks to the author for above article it contains meaningful content for future female welders. As per my suggestion they should consult http://www.weldpedia.com/

    Like (2)
    Reply
  30. JK Welding

    Great post about women in welding industry. All points you gave in your post are really very good. This post is going to really help women in welding industry.

    Like (2)
    Reply
  31. Pingback: 5 Reasons Why Becoming a Welder is so Important | North American Trade Schools

  32. Val

    Im almost done with my welding course but the closer i get to finishing everything and getting my certs the more nervous I am about my next step going in the field. I live in LA so I hope I find something because i love welding.

    Like (2)
    Reply
  33. Julie

    Ladies!!!! Keep your head up! I feel that most of us are super strong women who have already learned what adversity means, push forward! I remember getting out of school and looking for a job, I was almost defeated! I was told that at some some shops they didn’t need shop help and when I would tell them I was certified, they would immediately say they weren’t hiring!! I found a fabrication shop and have been excelling since! It has been an amazing journey! Some men are intimidated but most are super cool!!niw I’m trying for my contractors license. If you put your mind to it and love it. Don’t give up!! There are so many areas to learn and so many directions to go from construction, fabrication, studios, unions, city work etc.

    Like (1)
    Reply
  34. Pingback: Women in Welding: From Discouraged to Encouraged – JEM Company

  35. Precious Leyva

    I really like that you mentioned the importance of not just learning the tools that are used, but how to properly care for them. Being in the welding industry, you need to take care of your tools so they will last longer. Not to mention, some customers can tell when you take care of your property. If they see that your stuff is clean and well maintained, they are more inclined to feel comfortable with you as their repair service.

    Like (3)
    Reply
  36. Jenni

    Just starting school in august, very excited! so forgive me but I’m gonna throw this question out there someone please humor me…TO wear makeup or not to wear makeup?? Thanks ladies!

    Like (1)
    Reply
  37. Robert

    I cannot say anything about any other company but the company I worked for when I was welding every welder got paid the same amount of money I’d wether they were female or male and everything was based on seniority and hours worked I did not notice any male-to-female discrimination I think this is a big misconception in the field even if it is a woman hiring I think there is undoubtedly a worry about hiring a woman for such a job because there is a concern about their dedication to longevity there are undoubtedly women who can do this but they are not the norm there’s a disproportionate amount of women who would desire a better working environment. To those who want to be in the field I tip my hat to you

    Like (3)
    Reply

Leave a Comment

* = Required field