how reach top level welding?

Hi everyone
Got a big wide question, now I've learned a lot from investigating metal fatigue of welds http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/dropbox/cranu/110602_fatiguetest/110602_fatigue_test.html
http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/dropbox/cranu/110801_hybLM_TIGdr_fatg_nobrk/fatg_hybLM_TIGdr_s6T.html Understand one little blemish and properties are gone. So that's way way way above the welding skill level I've ever achieved.
How does a person progress from being a youth out of welding school to being a skilled welder trusted to do critical joints bearing high dynamic loads?
I'm in UK. Thanks to one of you contributors I've seen the BC Canada welder training program, where structured path seems to be give a 10 to 20-year progression to top level.
Rich Smith
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On 8/29/2011 5:25 PM, Richard Smith wrote:

http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/dropbox/cranu/110602_fatiguetest/110602_fatigue_test.html
http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/dropbox/cranu/110801_hybLM_TIGdr_fatg_nobrk/fatg_hybLM_TIGdr_s6T.html
I've found that welding at very high levels is a combination of great science/engineering and great art/artist. You have been dong a great deal of work on the science side (nice work BTW!). The art side comes from the eye/hand coordination and the experience to know when something is working well and not. And both side need to have constant testing and feedback to make sure things are what they should be.
For me, I'm just a middling decent welder (and getting worse with age). But I know how to specify, test, section, inspect, measure, time, calculate, and all the rest of the science side. When I was doing this sort of thing regularly, I'd get the unhappy call from a customer, get samples, research, section, etch, etc etc until I got a handle on what was going wrong. Then I'd show up in the weld shop, huddle with the welder and the foreman, show time. Typical response went along the lines of "hmmmmmm that's kinda neat. And if you want to change (whatever), I can just hold the torch a bit different, use a different wire, more/less amps/volts," etc. And the really good ones would ask me to do sections on several test pieces to get the extra feedback. And the bad ones would tell me I was full of bunk. Those were the ones I made sure didn't get promoted.
So I think the answer is 'Practice, practice, practice' Make that 'Practice, feedback, practice, feedback, etc.
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http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/dropbox/cranu/110602_fatiguetest/110602_fatigue_test.html
http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/dropbox/cranu/110801_hybLM_TIGdr_fatg_nobrk/fatg_hybLM_TIGdr_s6T.html
My personal experience, which went from a Tombstone in a back yard to x ray pipe to underwater work (none of which had anything to do with certification or approaching perfection) was:
Original talent. Lots of people want to play the piano, but only a few ever get far enough to be considered an "expert".
Dedication to practicing. Doing it when you don't want to, and still doing your best job.
Interest in doing more than required just to get by. Learning from trade journals and technical reports on the inner fine points that will never be discussed at the Dew Drop Inn on the way home from the job.
Personal drive to strive to excellence, not accepting average or good, and knowing that only hard work and perseverance would make the difference.
And lastly, getting known in the field. Being known as a welder who can ace a tie-in, or a critical weld, and do it time and time again. A reputation as being a consistent performer, and not a hot and cold primadonna. A reputation of being a team player, and working through bad living, social, food, cultural, job, or personality conditions and conflicts, ever keeping the finish line in sight, and not getting caught up in the politics and bs along the way.
Welding is welding. Leave a weldor alone in a room and come back in an hour. But all the rest of that has a lot to do with how well or how poorly that weldor does in his hour.
The people I saw who went the farthest and who were the best had the attitude that they looked forward to each day as a learning day, and never reached the point where they knew it all. Or were the best. There will always be someone who knows more than you, or who is actually better.
Steve
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Great post, Steve! ;>)} btw, I know where the DewDropInn is.....
localmakiyooper phil k.
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There's one in Las Vegas. Anyone ever heard of the "Brief Encounter?"
Steve
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On Tue, 30 Aug 2011 23:21:47 -0700, "Steve B"

No, but my personal favorite (gone now) was the "He's not here" Lounge in Surfside, Texas.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com says...

Hit it on the head. In our weld school, we learn what a good bead looks like on a flat plate right in front of us, no obstructions between us and it. Then we practice making that bead, until we pass an x-ray test on three plates (horizontal, vertical, overhead).
Once we hit the waterfront, THEN the new welder starts learning real welding. Pipes, wireways, waveguides, hangers, you-name-it between you and the weld. Rare indeed is the time I get to make an unobstructed weld that I can see all the way around without using a mirror.
Not to mention, in the school, everything is already set up. I think a good portion of being a good welder is being able to run a differential diagnosis on your equipment, then fixing it in the field (if possible or allowed).
The day I stop learning will be the day after I'm dead.
Hitting the waterfront is an eye-opener for many of our helpers and apprentices. Quite a few bail out on our shop into other shops or codes once they actually try to do real welding.
IMHO, it takes at least three things to propel a welder from greenhorn to great: good attitude, patience, and perseverance.
--
Tin Lizzie
"Elephant- A mouse built to government specs." - Lazarus Long
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Hi all
Thanks responses.
Roy - liked you take on art, craft, technology and science all in one.
Steve

That's the bit that has me worried ;-)
You all share that every day is a learning experience. That's what I found amazing. If you are in a job where you don't learn something major every day it's time to move on. Bears no relation to those who talk about "unskilled" and "semi-skilled" jobs (no wonder there's balance-of-trade deficit in the countries where people talk like that!).
It's a cheerful message. Thanks - I'll dive back into my report-writing about my studies of metal fatigue, red-eyed and stubbled, but feeling brighter.
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@weldsmith4.co.uk says...

It fries me to hear people talk about welding as a semi-skilled grunt job. Many people have absolutely no idea of the time and effort it takes to be a professional welder. Hell, we've hired then let go quite a few contractors who thought they could weld. We'd usually catch them in a major screw-up, then have to fix their crap. I know lots of people are anti-government for good reasons, but dammit! I'm sick and tired of seeing contractors get paid for the work, then we have to arc it back out and do it again cause they screwed up somehow.
What worries me about the future of the trade is this generation of silver spoon kids entering the job market now. I've run into kids I just want to smack the crap out of cause they won't even try to learn how to weld a difficult joint. They'd rather whine about it and fully expect someone else to do it for them.
I think these youngsters expect all interferences removed and the sub put on a rotisserie so all their welds can be done in the flat position.
--
Tin Lizzie
"Elephant- A mouse built to government specs." - Lazarus Long
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The flip side of that is there are a LOT of production welders that do nothing but wire feed down hand welds on hot rolled stock. The place I worked as a young'in did nothing but down hand and some vertical up. Only one guy in the shop could do overhead. And all of this was on plain hot rolled.
I was so low on the totem pole that I got stuck doing the clean up work: grind, gouge, reweld, fill, etc. I got to see everyone else's work, fix anything that needed to be fixed. Interesting perspective
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When we graduated from commercial diving school, the speaker emphasized that perseverance was the key, both to getting into the business (diving), advancing, and staying there until it was your choice to stay or go. Life is pretty much like that. If one wants something bad enough, they can get as close to it as they can. Sometimes not, but most times. Example: I will never be a NBA basketball star, no matter how much I might want to.
Welding has so many areas that one can specialize in, so it is rare that there is a welder who knows all phases.
As Janis Joplin said, "You only gotta do one thing good to make it in this world."
What is that, we ask?
Anything. Just be good at ONE thing, and go from there.
Steve
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