Each month we hope to feature a brief interview with a welding instructor at a community college, trade school, or high school in order to answer questions about preparing for a career in welding, choosing the right machine to prepare for a welding job, and what students need to know about welding programs or welder training courses. We’re welcoming John Hill of Frederick Community College in Maryland today to answer a few questions:
How did you get started in welding?
I began welding when I was 16 years old, I attended Annapolis Senior High where they offered vocational training at a school south of there called South River Senior High. Once I entered the welding lab and saw the welding process I knew that it was the career I wanted to pursue.
How can beginning welding students prepare for welding classes?
I would suggest students have at least a fundamental understanding of what is involved with welding, the dangers, the excitement, what area of welding they would like to focus on, and the knowledge of knowing that welding can afford you a good life. I would suggest that they watch videos of different welding processes to see which one appeals to them. If they know welders ask questions related to the career. Find out how much training goes into becoming a welder, the biggest misconception is that they will take a welding class and be ready to go out into the industry and make a great deal of money..So not true.
Tell us about what students can expect to learn in your welding program?
Students will not only learn the basics of welding, they will also learn how to read a welding Blueprint, understand and identify welding symbols, learn the importance of safety as it relates to welding, I also stress the importance of time management along with work ethic.
What kinds of welding jobs do your students find after graduating?
Typically, they find very novice welding positions, such as helpers for steel fabrication and erection companies, jobs in industry welding such as factories, smaller companies looking to train a beginning welder, jobs that can lead to more if they apply themselves.
Out of the latest welding machines on the market, which do you recommend for new welders?
I’m a big fan of Miller welding machines, that’s what I learned on and Miller in my opinion makes a better product. For field work I like the Miller Big Blue 400 although very pricey it is ideal for the field guy looking for the best value. In our Lab here at FCC we use the Miller Syncrowave which is an awesome machine, we also just recently added the Miller 352 which converts from stick to MIG, which most of our students really like.
Do you have a favorite welding machine for your own projects?
Once again I prefer Miller, for any and everything I do.
What is the most common advice you give to students?
Take your time, Rome was not built in a day. Most students get so frustrated when there not laying down dime like welds, I tell them anything worth doing well is worth practicing for. There is the occasional student that is just gifted, however with most it takes practice, and as long as you remember that, you will be fine. Put your best foot forward, relax, don’t over think it and one thing I like to stress is. We all have a lot going on in our lives, but once you drop that shield it’s just you and that puddle, focus on that, the worries of the world don’t exist under the hood!
What is your biggest obstacle as a welding instructor?
Getting students to believe in themselves. I tell them all the time, yes I’m a bit cocky but it’s because I know that I have put countless hours into perfecting my craft. Although there is never a perfect weld every weld has it’s flaws, but be perfect at what you are attempting. If you do that 9 out of 10 welds you lay down will be as close to perfect as you can get them.
What was your favorite welding project that you or your class has completed?
I had my class build all the new tables for our redesigned lab, along with all the welding carts that hod the machines. It’s awesome walking into the lab to see your students work displayed for all other students that attend FCC.
Is there a particular story of how your welding program/class has impacted a student’s life in a significant way?
I have had many success stories, one of the things I like the most is having my students call me and say “Thank You John for teaching me what you did, it has really helped me out here in the industry.” I have students that have gone on to become instructors themselves, students that have become pipe welders, ironworkers, and even an underwater welder. So to say one student, no, all my students lives have impacted me more than me impacting them.
Thank you, John!
Learn more about the welding program at Frederick Community College here