Lanse, good on you for having a clear direction in life. The only thing I"d say to you is give this trade 5 years or so to make sure you really like it. Making stuff in your own garage for fun and profit is one thing, doing it every day for a boss who has a bottom line to meet is quite another. I know a lot of guys who entered the trade with dollar signs in their eyes, not wanting to waste a lot of time in school. Many regret entering the trade. It"s a filthy business a lot of the time. You will get zero respect from most of your bosses, and in my experience, most if not all of the welding shops I"ve been through have been a lot more like the Lincoln shop than the Hobart one. I"m not saying for an instant that it"s not honest honorable work, but it can get you down physically and spiritually if you end up working for the wrong people. The most dysfunctional, violent and dispiriting place I ever worked was a welding shop making roll-off containers. The office got shot up one weekend by a disgruntled worker, another made a special tool for slashing his co-workers tires on his way out of work after shift, another loosened all the lug nuts on the bosses truck trying to kill him. Another was almost shot by police while beating up his wife with a coffee table leg, another arrested for assault, and most of the guys were alcoholics or drug abusers. Are most shops like that? Probably not, but in my own >personal< experience, this trade tends to attract a lot of marginal types who have taken very little pride in themselves or their work, who are doing it for the money, who are now tied down by family, mortgage, child support or alimony payments and can"t do anything else. I don"t believe you are one of those types, but not all of them were either to start with, so I urge you to give this thing a good solid go like I know you will, but make sure that it is exactly what you want to do before taking on life"s more permanent commitments. BTW, nothing you did in school was a waste. You never know where life will take you and what you will make use of in the future. If you decide you would like to get into something else, all that "other stuff" might eliminate the need for a lot of remedial work later on. People change, what we enjoy changes, our goals and values change. Don"t be closing any doors by getting tied down to any one thing early on. And if I offended anyone, I didn"t mean to. Welding is good honest work if that"s what you like. To me it has always been the dirtiest and one of physically hardest of all the trades. My brother has been welding for almost 20 years and it has taken a hard toll on his body and spirit. At almost 50, with commitments he can"t slough off long enough to retrain, it is unlikely he will be able to transition to anything else at this point in his life. He regrets getting into the trade. Yes he was making very good money for awhile, over $90k a year doing oilfield related work, but it is unreliable, and you must never get into the habit of thinking it will last.
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