Welder – Specializing in Pipe welds; currently in school upgrading skills and qualifications
I was born/grew up in: Six Nations Reserve, Ontario
I now live in: Six Nations Reserve, Ontario
I completed my training/education at: Technical Trades Academy, Brantford, Ontario
Do you self-identify as First Nation, Métis or Inuit (FNMI)? If yes, with which community do you affiliate?
Yes, I am a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, Ohsweken, Ontario.
Describe what you do at work.
We start our day with a morning talk about the job we are going to be doing that day. We talk about the types of welds and joints we are going to be making and what safety issues we need to think about. We make sure we are using the correct type of consumable products. For example, we make sure we are using the right welding rods (the stuff that makes the joint) for the metal we are working with.
I use my knowledge of the chemistry of metals on every welding job. You need to know the chemical and physical properties of the metals you are working with or else the weld will not be correct. For example, you can’t use a brittle material to weld pipes together. You need to know the thermal conductivity of the metal (i.e. how much heat you can use before it melts). For example, you have to be very careful when welding a metal such as aluminum because has a low melting point; it takes less heat to cause them to distort or melt.
Welders are always solving problems on the job. Sometimes you have to work with weird joint placements. You might have to use a mirror so you can see the back of the joint you are welding! Sometimes the place you have to put the weld is too far away to reach easily so you have to improvise by duct taping the welding touch to a stick so you can reach the spot.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
When you make a weld to join two pieces of metal you have to make sure that weld is safe. If the weld is between pieces of metal used in building construction, the building might become unsafe for the people working or living there if a weld is not done properly. Sometimes you weld metal containers that will be under pressure and sometimes they carry hazardous materials. The weld you make will make the difference between a container that cracks or explodes and one that gets the product to its destination safely.
What motivates you in your career?
It might sound weird but being the best at my job is what motivates me most. The money and all that are great but when it comes down to it, it’s your name on the line when you do a welding job. If you mess up on a job, you are the person responsible. And you will know it yourself if something fails because you didn’t do the best job possible. I like this pressure to be the best and to show your skills!
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I really stumbled into welding as a career. I did have some exposure to it in high school but I didn’t like it then. When I started out I got a job helping to run a tobacco company. It was good pay but I really didn’t feel satisfied. I guess I wanted to work with my hands. I started by taking a pre-apprenticeship training course. This helps you see different trades and find the things you like doing. I took some courses first and then did some on the job training. After I did the pre-apprenticeship program it all started to fall into place. I planned out what I wanted to achieve and then set out to do it. And now I’m in a career that interests me and which I love!
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I like to play hockey and baseball. I help out around my community. I’ve volunteered with Skills Canada Ontario at their provincial competitions. I helped them with a career information booth and with some youth empowerment workshops.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
My best advice is to keep at it! If you want to be a welder remember your first weld is not going to be very good. You have to keep at it and keep practicing if you want to be good at it. I guess this is true for any career you take on.
Let’s Talk Science is grateful to Skills Canada Ontario for connecting us with this individual.