What is it really like to be a welder? We asked expert Travis Edmonds of Lincoln Electric what he had to say about this career.
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My name is Travis Edmonds. I work in the applications department. I'm a welding technologist. I specialize in engine drives, stick electrode, kind of cross-country pipeline applications.
When I first started here, I just needed a job — a good paying job — and benefits. But now that I've been here 17 years, it's more than just that. I found a career.
My older brother, he went off to college. My parents were looking at me like, "Okay, what's the big stuff here? What are you going to do?" And I knew I could have gone to college, but for me ... it would have been a waste of time. Another job opportunity came up in weld services, so I interviewed for that. And they said, you know, you're gonna be welding all day, every day. And I said, okay, I'm, I'm in. I want to do that.
That was one of the best positions I had here was welding test plates for weld services, making really good money, and really learning a skill that, I didn't realize, but to this day, I still use. I always want to be challenged. I don't want to be stagnant and not learn and not grow. I'm sure there are going to be new things that will come up within the next 20 years that I don't even know about that might spark my interest, but I know I'll be able to be in this skilled trade for the rest of my career. I know that for sure.
I've always been into Toyotas and trucks and off-roading. This is Resz Fabrication, primarily focused on Toyota truck off-road parts bumpers, rock sliders, skid plates. It's a great place to go to after work to weld and also become part of the culture. I ran into Mike on some local trails around here and became friends with him. And then he posted a job — he needed some help welding on the side at night. And so then I inquired about it and started working for Mike. It was actually at his house out of a two-car garage. So you have the off-roading culture and your welding culture kind of merged into one.
If I see somebody who shows an interest here at Lincoln or outside of work, I really want to help them and give them the knowledge to get them off to a fast start. [Welding] does take some coordination. It's not easy working as hard work as you do. You have to tolerate some sparks here and there, but if you wear the proper PPE, it's not a concern. There's steps you can take to eliminate that.
If you have a four-year degree, you're gonna have a lot of debt, and might be able to pay that off over time, but with a skilled trade like welding you can jump right into it. Certainly if a new person, a younger person out of school, maybe comes in and inquires about welding — I think it's a great avenue to get into because there are so many directions you can take. You can be a shop welder, and make good money doing it. And you can also grow and move up in the skilled trade of welding. It's really endless what you can do with it.
Once I flip the hood down, everything else goes black and I'm in my element. I know what to do as soon as I strike that arc. It's, okay, this is easy. This is welding — I know what I'm doing.