I really enjoy teaching people how to weld.
From the beginner to the more experienced, I love sharing this trade. Though I do enjoy welding and also inspecting, I really feel I utilize my skills, knowledge, and experience to a greater degree when I am teaching. I have worked in various capacities over the years and used different processes. In most of those industries, I’m a decent welder. In some I’m more experienced and comfortable. But all in all, I’m a WELDER!
My dream job is teaching. The most satisfaction is obtained when a student overcomes some welding related challenge. I have had the position a few times and am always looking for one that meets my skills and abilities. During job searches and discussions with others, I have had a few thoughts about the “Welding Instructor” position. Understand that with most of the tings I write, they are from my very limited experience and exposure to industry.
What we think about a welding instructor
- They know EVERYTHING about Welding
- They can weld anything
- They have the skills and mindset to manage shops full of people who have NEVER been in a shop before and also manage their non-welding related issues.
- They can make welders ready to work for top wage upon receipt of the ever magical “Certificate”
- They need us to bring them projects to work on that we are too cheap to pay a professional welder to do.
What Educational Organizations Expect
- Certificate and Credentials that few or nobody in the organization understands.
- The ability to “transfer” knowledge and skills to all students regardless of the students capabilities.
- The acceptance of wages lower than one could make as a semi skilled journeyman welder.
- Industry experience gained in 2-5 years that allows one to “pass on” wisdom to students.
- The ability to work in a system full of career educators, many of which have NEVER worked in an industry related to what is being taught.
- The ability to quickly and efficiently teach a manual dexterity skill by spending the majority of time talking about “theory” or subjects not related to welding.
- The ability to navigate purchasing systems not designed for actual industry in a manner that allows my shop to be as efficient as one in industry for 1/3rd the budget.
- A keen interest in using the newest “STEM” promoting gadget that does little to nothing for actual welding training.
- A desire to attend staff meetings and non-welding related “professional development” sessions as opposed to practicing welding or getting additional welding skills.
What does a student expect
- The ability to “transfer” knowledge and skills to them regardless of their capabilities, participation, motivation, dedication, or drive.
- A person that will somehow pass on the skills of a trade they have dedicated their life to in a matter of a few months.
- The ever magical “Certificate”
- Someone with industry contacts that will help them “get their foot in the door” regardless of their abilities.
- Someone that will reward them with praise at the same level of those who perform better.
Negative things I have seen or heard about instructors.
- VERY LITTLE time in the booth with students and a great deal of time at the desk.
- Skills for welding that vary widely depending upon the process, base metal, position, or other features. If you can’t do it, you may be able to teach it but will it be done as efficiently as compared to someone with better skill?
- The ability to tell a student what was done incorrectly without actually observing them. (This is some of the most secret “Instructor Magic” and I have yet to develop it.
- A great skill in reciting things from a textbook without actually proving them or trying them. Additionally, these things are usually mentioned in the classroom only and sometimes get “skewed” when pulled from memory of what was mentioned in the lesson plan.
- More talking about what they have done as opposed to showing students how to do it.
- Has us spend most of our time on “school projects” that only a few get to weld on.
- No actual “knowledge” of basic theory aspects of welding but only short term recall. I have actually seen instructors with no understanding of DCSP vs DCRP. , CC vs CC, Voltage/WFS relationship for Semi-Auto processes, transfer modes etc… I recently talked with an instructor who was convinces that only the newest power source in the shop was a “Spray Welder” and the others were just “MIG”. Kinda sad.
Positive Things I think, have seen, or heard about instructors.
- Man! He can Weld.
- Always in the shop.
- Explains theory while in the shop as opposed to sitting through the classroom all the time.
- Described experiences in a way that made me interested in the trade.
- Can answer theory questions at any time and adds them to sessions in the shop.
- Helps students learn as a group and encourages helping each other.
- Focuses on student needs in conjunction with job availability based upon their location. (Not just pushing locally needed skills).
- The ability to understand, review, and apply new technology to the learning experience in a manner that makes the student grow faster as opposed to just being “awed” by the new shiny thing.
So what should my “Qualifications” be
- The ability to weld using the processes, techniques, positions, and quality expected.
- The ability to pass on real world experiences for some aspect of the welding industry.
- A technical knowledge of all things related to the welding processes, materials, and techniques they are teaching at a level that they could communicate knowledgeably to both peers of their same experience level and students who have no clue if the teacher is correct.
- The ability to communicate with other professionals in the industry when I need assistance with improving the learning experience for my students.
- The ability to communicate professionally with faculty and staff that have no interest in welding and only the “performance” of my program.
- A satisfaction derived from seeing others succeed.
- The ability to speak with business and industry as a welding professional and not a salesman just trying to get numbers up.
- The desire to support local industry by providing trained students as opposed to having students take the work from industry!
For each one of the bullet items, I could probably talk for a few minutes or write even longer. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts with those interested and I do understand that everyone may have very different opinions and observations. Please feel free to share them.
4 thoughts on “Qualifications For a Welding Instructor”
I have years of welding experience working on ships. I do not have any “degrees” per se, but I want to teach. My family owns a trade school that we want to expand to include welding classes. Do I have to have degrees of various kinds to be able to teach? We live in Indiana- don’t know if you can enlighten us in your endeavors of becoming an instructor.
I am sorry I missed this! Each state has requirements for teaching but most have waivers for occupational teaching.
I have yet to start my required 18 hours of college classes and am in jeopardy of losing the position. It has been a hassle with Covid.
I’m a 3rd year High School welding instructor and, base on my limited experience as an instructor, this article was spot on! One of the first things I admit to my students is that I don’t know everything and I make sure they know what my background is in welding. I neve built big sky scrapers or giant bridges and was never a pipeline welder. Many think that a welder is a welder when that’s not the case. I would also say, I continue to learn more and more because the students ask questions that I don’t know the answer to. I do my best not to leave them hanging and find an answer. Great article that I will be sharing!