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Level 2 Welding Apprentice, Maddy Paulson was recently apart of our #DreamBig Career Discovery Expo with Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board as a Dream Maker Panelist. Welding was a hot topic during the expo and we had multiple students interested in a welding career. Maddy was so gracious in answering all of our extra questions to provide more insight about her educational and career journey. We also sent Maddy some audience questions about the welding trade that you can find answers to below!
Build a Dream: Could you please tell us your title, what you do and what a typical day looks like in your job?
Maddy: I’m a level 2 welding apprentice at TS Manufacturing in Lindsay. A typical day for me consists of building parts and welding them all together. Most days I also get pre-fabricated structures that need to be welded solid as well.
BaD: Could you please describe your career journey? (I.E: How did you get to where you are today?)
M: My journey started in high school taking all the trades based classes and in grade 12 I was in OYAP (Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program) which fast tracked my first year of my apprenticeship. I am still working every day and going to school once a week for apprenticeship classes.
BaD: What is the demand like for this career now? Will there be one in the future?
M: There is almost always a demand for welders and will probably always will be in my opinion. Especially right now with all the baby boomers retiring leaving 1000’s of jobs unfilled.
BaD: What influenced your decision to choose this career?
M: My grandfather is a millwright which was a huge influence as he supported me through high school taking the trades classes. My entire family was very supportive which made the decision very easy.
BaD: Can you talk about a personal challenge you’ve experienced either throughout your career journey or at work? How did you overcome it?
M: A personal challenge I face almost daily, as do many other women in the trades, is being treated as an equal. Many men believe the “shop” isn’t the place for women and view us as “too weak” or incapable of completing tasks. Many of the guys I work with think they need to do things for me or help me which isn’t the case at all. I find my way of doing things and proving them wrong when I show them I’ve done the things “I couldn’t do” are done.
BaD: Why is it important to keep trying new things, and to keep exploring when it comes to your career decision making journey?
M: It’s important to progress your learning constantly because you can never know too much. Small skills can help with the bigger things you face in life even if it’s not related directly to your career. Knowing the most current information also puts you ahead of older workers with more seniority because they can better rely on your information.
BaD: What is something that you know now that you wish you knew back in grade/high school?
M: The one thing I wish I knew sooner in my process is that it’s normal to feel scared and out of place. Lots of the guys that started after me at my work and they all have the same look of fear in their eyes no matter how old they are.
The very best advice I can give, is to just try it no matter what negative influences you have during the process. Everyone’s experience in any trade is going to be different so you can’t listen to one bad story. The worst thing that’ll happen is you find out you don’t like it, and even then you walk away with a new skill and some life lessons.
Audience: What are the different types of welding?
Maddy: MIG is considered more like a nick name for wire welding. It gets broken down into FCAW (Flux Core Arc Welding) MCAW (Metal Core Arc Welding) and GMAW ( Gas Metal Arc Welding). TIG is another one where it gets broken down as well but instead of different processes, it’s different material such as; aluminum, mild steel, and stainless. Spool gun welding is about process similar to MIG but the gun assembly is different and is typically used for aluminum. SAW (Submerged Arc Welding) is another process which is pretty cool. There’s also spot welding, under water welding which uses ARC and fully automated welding as well which is kind of more robotic to some affect.
A: What type of welding do you do and what type of welding do you prefer? What type of welding will take me the farthest?
M: I mainly wire and stick welding, with what gets built at my work it’s the most practical. Stick (ARC) is my favourite because it has challenge to it unlike MIG in my opinion. TIG as you have probably found out yourself is also very difficult and takes lots of patience.
As to what kind of welding will take you the furthest, I can’t recommend one more than the other. What I can recommend though is to get good at all processes, find which one you like best and go from there. There’s lots of jobs based off of one process as well as having a job where you can be doing all of them.
A: What opportunities will this job provide? Travel?
M: Being a welder can always guarantee you work which in today’s time can be somewhat challenging. You can 100% travel and work being a welder as well which a lot of people don’t know.
A: Where are places that would hire a welder? Would it be a cooperation or clients of your own?
M: Lots of manufacturing companies hire welders. The best thing I can say is to search “welding jobs” and that will give you everything you could possibly think of related to welding whether it’s local of not.
A: Where are you completing your apprenticeship – or is it already done?
M: I am currently doing my apprenticeship with my work as well as Durham College in Whitby. A have less than three months of my level 2 and will have one more year/level after this that I’ll start August 2021.
A: Are there any places local (or not) that I could try and practice more welding that is outside of school?
M: I’m not sure what is local for you but I’m sure there are places close to you that take apprentices but don’t let the fear of leaving home stop you. If you have an amazing job offer 3 hours away or even a province over and you know you’ll be happy and successful, take it. Take it, learn everything you can and succeed. Family is only a phone call away or a weekend visit soon. As to where you can practice more outside of school, I’m not sure other than reaching out to a manufacturing company for some sort of co op or part time job.
A: How long does it take to complete your education?
M: A standard apprenticeship takes 3-4 years but what sets an apprenticeship aside from a college education is that you’re working in your career as you’re learning. And being paid to learn your skills as your going. During my apprenticeship I also took a two year program at Durham College for welding engineering.
A: Where are you doing your education?
M: Your education in my opinion never stops, I know that seems like a poster answer but it really is true. I still learn new ways to do things and new skills almost everyday. The answer you’re probably looking for is: I graduated a two year college program for welding and I’m doing apprenticeship classes for welding that are 1 day a week for 7 months. You need so many hours of classroom learning even for an apprenticeship which is why I go. If you take the apprenticeship classes, you can finish in 3-4 years. If you decline school it can take a minimum of 5 years to complete your apprenticeship.
A: What certification would I need?
M: For welding you technically don’t need any certifications, however you want to look employable so I recommend getting CWB (Canadian Welding Bureau) welding tickets. CWB is a Canadian standards company that sets the expectations as a welder through their welding tests which are fairly simple. Lots of companies require at least one of those tickets as proof you can weld and they don’t need to worry. Welding is considered to be a “non mandatory trade” in Canada so licensing isn’t needed. As well as the apprenticeship, you can work as a regular welder all your whole life without welding tickets or certifications but if you ever want to work in another country or even another province or take on a higher management like role, it is almost crucial that you do your apprenticeship and do the test for your licensing (C of Q or Certificate of Qualification/ Red Seal) having your tickets and Red Seal will also give you a higher hourly wage or salary. Not that money is the most important thing, but if you know you can make more by doing a couple extra things along the way then why not.
Thank you Maddy!