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. Need more inspiration? Read about real-life woman welder Jessi Combs in her interview with the Carmen Electrode blog.

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

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

  1. Emily

    I was in the same boat try not putting your first name on your resume. Just put E or K. Smith also be aggressive don’t let them make you feel small you worked just as hard as everyone else. I feel you I was the only girl in my class for years. Just keep going, try finding a smaller fab shop to start. Good luck 😉

    Reply
    1. Editor

      Thank you for sharing, Audrey.

      We always look forward to hearing from real women how they deal with the welding industry. The crazy thing is, so many women are saying the same thing and yet nothing is getting done about it. When are we going to see some actual change in the workforce to where we don’t need to worry about these things any more?!

      Reply
  2. Jax

    I really enjoyed these tips. As a woman welder of over 10 yrs, I to have faced some discrimination from some companies but I didn’t give up, till someone gave me the opportunity to get hands-on training in the oilfields industry. As I took a course in an undergraduate college they only show basics, it’s a whole different ball game out in the real world so practice is key and totally agree to getting all the knowledge of the tools of the trade is highly recommended. You can have lots of certs but if you don’t have the skills those certs mean nothing. I’ve always been the only female in all the places I’ve worked for and would love to see more women in the welding industries. Good luck to all and God bless.

    Reply
    1. Editor

      What a great point, Jax!

      Learning in class and actually getting hands-on training are two completely different beasts. In a class, you’re safe with your instructor who’s most likely setting up your machine, getting your torch connected, or dialing in your amperage control. But in the real world, you’re dragging cables across crowded shop floors, might not have every tool you need and have to awkwardly ask to borrow something, or your basic hoodie catches fire cause you forgot your welding jacket at home. There are so many variables that can impact what you think your skill level is. It’s so important to practice, watch others, ask questions, and continue making improvements.

      Reply
  3. Lexi

    After reading all the comments from women struggling to find a job in the field makes me feel horrible. It’s a tough industry to thrive in and competing with knowledgeable males and other females is also tough. To stand out is a challenge. I’m also a female welder. I started my technical schooling in august of 2018. I am now in my second semester and am relieved to say I got a job. I believe in not just knowing how to do it, but being knowledgeable and a hard worker is what will get you where you want. I am spreading the same positivity to other women who are struggling to get where they want (or even just to get a start), I am blessed to have the opportunity I did and their time will come also! I honestly was searching google for “Ways to keep nails looking nice despite being a welder”! I have read the thread and a good bit of comments and I believe in every single women in the field. You can do it! And I also have learned some wonderful tips I will take note of while I’m in the field!

    Reply
    1. Editor

      Lexi!!

      Like you, we are shocked at how challenging it is to be a woman in this industry. It’s not enough to show up on time and bust out rad welds. We’re constantly working hard to prove ourselves. But there is a glimmer of hope! We’ve been following quite a few women on Instagram that are great at sharing tips and advice to help other women navigate this industry. The online female welding community is so amazing; they’re supportive, empowering, motivational, inspirational, etc. All the positive vibes you can think of, you will find within the women’s welding community.

      Reply
  4. Liz

    I am replying really late, however, I am also an “older female” who is about to graduate from welding, an advanced welder (level IV). I, also am a little worried that I may be in for a great big surprise when I go for jobs. I’ve had 3 different instructors and each one has there own way of teaching. it has been confusing at times, yet, I managed to get through it and received my certifications. I have been reminded almost daily that I have an age gap compared to the other students as well as being a female. I dug in even harder to prove myself. Now, I am wondering if potential employers are going to be the same way. I would hate to travel to a job and not get on, only due to being misjudged.

    Reply
    1. Editor

      Thank you for sharing, Liz.

      It’s great to hear real-life tips, tricks, and advice for surviving in this industry. Being misjudged in this industry is tough to deal with but it’s nice to know that it isn’t just one of us, it’s pretty much all of us who have to deal with it!

      Reply
  5. Porscha

    I’ve just picked up on this thread. I’m no stranger to male dominated industries, as I’ve established myself as a manager of tattoo shops. But I’m rounding 43, thinking of going to school for welding. I’m enamoured by the thought that my work ethic and respect could come from my own hands rather than supporting the hands of others. Am I crazy?

    Reply
    1. Editor

      Of course you’re not crazy! I think your skills would transfer over perfectly with your attention to detail, hand-eye coordination, and the skills needed to plan out a job before you even begin. Good luck & let us know how it goes!

      Reply

Leave a Comment

* = Required field