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Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / question for you traveling welders
- - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-17-2013 03:08
Im fresh outta trade school have my AWS pipe certs and my structural as well. Going to get my certs in downhill and stainless soon.  Im putting a rig together right now.  I want to get into the pipeline or get into shutdowns..... want to get my traveling on and make some decent cash... any help pointing me in the right direction.
Parent - - By Cumminsguy71 (*****) Date 02-17-2013 14:15
Do you have pipeline experience? Do you have experience in the oil patch? Do you know anybody in the pipeline world? Do you have any pipefitting experience? An answer of no to the first two questions and you will have a hard time getting anywhere. I have 18 years experience working/rebuilding everything from Cadillacs to Caterpillars. Electrical guru, computers, diesel, you name it. Called about a mechanic job in the patch. After hearing my experience they were drooling until the question of "have you ever worked in the oil and gas industry?" came up. My reply, nope. Their reply, well, sorry bud. Didn't matter how much experience I had or what magic I could work on a diesel in any condition. Just my experience to date that will carry over into the welding world. Research on here and you'll find lots of information. One thing is for certain, one eye open. I have heard countless stories about plenty of buddy f.....kin' in that area. If your not a buddy watch for the kabar sneaking up behind you.

Shutdowns, I'm no expert but have had the chance a few short shutdowns. You'll work your tail off. Depending on contractor, where, what it is you are doing you may or may not test. The most asked question of welders and what I've heard is this, "Are you certified". I keep my smart mouth shut and do not reply, "to what". Most think you have one magic test that makes you super welder from fencing to NASA. It's quite invigorating when I run across a project manager that understands what I'm talking about.

Setting up your own rig straight out of school is risky but can be done and you can be successful. Going right out of the box and your going to need insurance and lots of it. Can get pricey and if your late on a payment they will drop you like a bad habit no matter how long you have been with them. Had a job awhile back and needed another guy. I knew a guy that knew a guy. He called me, was ready to roll out to the job. Told him to contact the contractor. He sends me a text and asks if he needed insurance? Needless to say, he was out. Sad truth is he probably charges the same rate as I do but does not fork out the insurance each year or having to deal with audits. Heck, didn't even have his own papers!

You will hear lots of talk about cheap insurance but I have yet to find cheap insurance when you tell them you do hot taps, live line welding and other highly critical jobs. Guys I know pay thousands upon thousands. One guy I know runs around doing the hot taps, drilling the pipe while gas is trucking thru it. I weld the fittings, he drills the line. He pays a TON!!!! I mean a FREAKIN' TON!!!! The key to your insurance is this. My agent and carrier know exactly what I do and I pay for it. When I get my audit papers I put down exactly what I did/do. If I do a certain percentage of work more than xx% per year then I need to change my insurance. Not telling them what you do and if something happens, your done. It's like having a flood and no flood insurance. The insurance company will just tell you sorry about your house. In this case the insurance company will also tell you sorry about your house because your going to loose it after you get sued. Hopefully you won't get shipped off to the local county or state hospitality complex after you get sued. We can guide you on here, give you ideas, hints, whatever. In the end it is your responsibility to research and find out.

Taxes- be ready for those of course. Same thing with that. Find a good trustworthy accountant. The little issue of it's the accountants fault, laughable. My sister and brother in law's accountant made a boo boo that cost them $10,000 owed to the IRS. It was the accountants fault but the issue of the $10k was on them as per the IRS.

You can get certs, you can rig out but it don't stop there. If you've had a normal job and get paid every week get ready to break that habit. Get used to hearing, "we typically pay in 30 days". My top clients pay in a week or two and I will drop, shift jobs and do what I can to get to their work at a moments notice because they pay. I just turned away a $10-15k gate job because I knew I'd be buried in material costs and the 30 day game after I got the job done. With my current gig it's about two weeks to payment from date of invoice and he buys all the materials, screw the gate job.

This is my experiense to date. No b.s, no tall tails just hard facts. Do some searching on here, lots of info and real good folks. Several that come to mind, the two Al's, Henry, Brent, Giovanni, Superflux, Ted are some guys I highly respect for the wealth of knowledge they hold. There are plenty of others just can't think of the names at the moment. Welders Exchange has lots of stuff about jobs at times. I can say this, there is nothing holding you back except you. If you want it go get it. Like I said, I was big pipeline when I started but I've carved my own nitch and certain things I have thought over the years have kept me here. Things I have decided, learned that make this way of life a better fit for me.

Good luck to you!!!!

Parent - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-17-2013 16:41
Hey man thanks for the reply Im glad you took the time to really give me a no **** good answer thanks a ton I really mean it!! I will keep all that in mind for sure!
Parent - - By 2006strat (***) Date 02-17-2013 15:07
I have been on many shutdowns around Houston area.  When you make the call to see if their looking for welders they will ask you to test for them even if you have the certs.  They will test you on Whatever proccess they are working on, carbon, nickel, stainless, dueplex, hastoloy, or what ever they want.  I was single hand welder for about two years before i decided to rig out.  Do a good job on first rig job, show up ontime everyday, finish the job out,  fill you machine up everyday, have all the tools you need, and make good welds.  They will call you back.  Its like being a car salesman.  You work off repeat customers(employers).   Once you do a few good shutdowns you will meet enough people to get your name out there, then they start calling you.  Where you located?
Parent - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-17-2013 16:52
Hey thanks for the reply 2006strat. I am in El Paso and ready to get the hell outta here. Please let me know more about the shutdowns... Thanks!
Parent - - By welderbrent (*****) Date 02-17-2013 22:25

Shawn and Strat have given some good suggestions already. 

I would ask this, just because you are just out of school doesn't imply you have no past experiences,  Do you already have some background in these areas that would benefit your desire to take to the road? 

Shawn is correct about this being one of your biggest hinderances.  You may have to lower your starting point a bit to get your foot in the door.  Find someone who can help you in as a helper.  From there you can work your way up and learn more about the application of your skills as you go even getting opportunities to improve and hone your skills in the true application of them. 

Patience will prove to be a valuable character quality during this time.  Mixed with a learning spirit and attitude you will go a long way. 

You may be a little premature in putting a rig together.  It can be quite expensive and may not get much of a workout for awhile.  You would also be able to learn about the various tooling required while working with an experienced journeyman. 

Good luck.

Have a Great Day,  Brent
Parent - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-18-2013 03:11
I have no problem starting lower than I want I understand I still have a million things to learn.  As far as experience I have no Oil and Gas experience. I really like pipe welding and Im not half bad at it.  I am drawn more towards the oil and gas industry. In college I was shooting for a degree in Petroleum engineering.  College wasnt really for me so I decided welding was a better fit. One of my instructors is an old UA pipeline guy the stuff he taught us I really enjoyed.  As far as the rig thing... Im sure it premature but I get a good amount my disability from the Army and have been saving up.  Its just a starter... Lincoln 305g, some bottles, tool box... Just the basics I guess.  I am a welder/fabricator at a misc steel shop and I do odd jobs on the side around town. So not money wasted.
Parent - - By rcwelding (***) Date 02-18-2013 02:45
Nothing in life is easy except quitting... If you don't have much quite in you and a little talent you will make it in the oil patch..

I love this forum and I have learned so much from it but..... There are thousands of pipeline and rig welders in the US that have never heard of this forum much less ever been on it..

Yes the oilfield wants experience and what employer doesn't but...... If they only hired experience then there would only be 200yr old pipeline and rig welders in the patch and I am seeing more and more 19 and 20yr old kids running rig trucks..

If you want it than keep trying to break in..!! It wont be easy but yes its very doable.. Just don't quit..!!!!!!
Parent - - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-18-2013 03:20
rcwelding, you are very right my friend! I know it will not be easy but its what I want. I worked my ass off in the Army and I figure the same principles apply to this industry.  Be on time, do a good job with good work, and keep your nose clean.  Im a hard worker and no stranger to paying dues.  Im ready for the challenge and fell I will do well. Thanks for the advice and best believe I never quit!!
Parent - - By Cumminsguy71 (*****) Date 02-18-2013 14:48
First, my apologies to pipeliners about the knife remarks. To Ron, as you already know there are folks out there no matter what you do that have that knife waiting. That was my point. So no offense to you pipeline guys, should have elaborated more. I do work for several guys and have had other rig welders I trust help me out. Knowing the guy you work with will not be sneaking off to the job trailer handing out his card and telling the contractor he can do it cheaper and cutting your throat. A good friend I do work with has told me this is why he likes to use me helping him out, I won't cut his throat and try to steal his clients behind his back. 

Sounds like you have a good attitude Ron and the drive to accomplish your goals. Your also in a good area to chase that pipeline work. I was like you, fresh out of school and had lived  life as a mechanic for many years before. Today I run a welding business, have many clients that call me back because of my work and work ethic. I had a rig set up, like you but when times got tough I took single hand jobs for contractors. When they would ask if I wanted to stay on after the job was done I would tell them no. It's a hard road. Many months I wondered how I was going to pay for the insurance payment that month. How to pay for the truck. I guess by God's grace it always worked out, somehow. Limited business owner experience. I knew it was what I wanted, I was not happy working for somebody. The single hand jobs I took would last a few months and when I got my last check I was happy. To much drama being an employee!! When I was broke as could be, a few hundred dollars in the bank account amazingly I was happier at those times doing my own thing than I have ever been as an employee. Work is up and then it's down. You have the fat bank account and next thing you know your 30 days out on a payment after spending everything you had on hotels, food and travel or materials and your wondering again, insurance payment?? It don't get easier, the bigger you get you think it will become easier. A few guys I know say no. Employees, bigger jobs and one friend has a HUGE amount of money in materials that he told me "has me nervous". He's been at it quite a bit longer than I have and it's the same as what I deal with everyday, only on a larger scale!

Many guys on here will tell you about driving all night a thousand miles to do a test only to bust the test or get, what's the word they use, not sure, anyhow it's pretty much being run off because they don't like how you combed your hair this morning, they don't like your rig, your welder or something. As one of the guys said, get to know people in the area, in that industry. I always used the philosophy the more names in my phone the better off I was. Working one big job and while your there your calling other clients trying to set up times and dates for the work they just called you about. Or, your calling welder buddies to say, "hey, what are you doing? Got a big job I could use a hand, you want to make some big money?".

I'm going to stop now, appears I'm rambling again! Good luck Ron, if you want it go for it and don't let anything get in your way. Oh yeah, don't let them raz you to much about your air cooled welder! I started with one of those too!! Welded miles of gas pipe and other stuff with my little ranger! Passed many a test with it too! Had to upgrade though because it wanted no part of running 3/16 jet rod!!!

Parent - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-19-2013 02:09
Shawn thanks for the possitive feedback.... Yeah the 305 is a start like I said its just a starter rig, if anything its my mobile practice vehicle while im learning the ropes.  I try to keep the right attitude that gets me somewhere in life. Everyone says that Texas is a good place for a welder... Im sure after a while Ill have some good contacts.  Already have a couple buddies doing the helper thing. One day Ill have it all worked out.

how did you get into climbing towers? saw your pics and I must say that looks fun as hell! and once again Thanks for the insight you have been a huge help
Parent - - By 2006strat (***) Date 02-18-2013 20:40
Just read about your lincoln 305.  I started with a miller bobcat 250 in my truck.  It has its advantages and disadvantages.  I think the "have to have a lincoln pipeliner" is going away  slowly.  I am seeing more of these machines in The back of trucks.  As long as you can pass test thats all that matters to these company's.  Pipeline is a different story.  A big factor is don't get discouraged.  When you go take your first test take your time if you don't like your weld neither will the qc.  When you take your first test you will learn more during that 1 test then 10 coupons burned at home.  If you haven't been in chemical plant before, thats where i would start.  Helpers are making $18hr around here.  If thats the direction you wanna go.  Really need to get your foot in the door and see what its about.   You might not like.  It isn't for everybody.  If you really want to travel i would try to get on as a pipeline helper.  From their you can decide what you want, but i tell you this " be careful chasing the money" just because somebody else is paying $8hr more an hr that just means there is $8hr more of bullshi+ that you have to put up with. All in all best of luck and keep burning rods.  When in doubt cut it out....
Parent - - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-19-2013 02:14
I totatlly agree with you... The lincoln thing is a preference for me plus I found a good deal on the 305. Im not one to get discouraged. I know it wont come easy but Im ready. I have no problem being a helper and learning the ropes. I know I have alot to learn.  One thing I do know and I totally agree with you NOT ALL
Parent - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-19-2013 02:14
sorry dog pushed some buttons.......... NOT ALL MONEY IS GOOD MONEY
- - By Big Sherm Date 02-19-2013 01:43
If no personal experience in the pipeling bus, I'd hire on a helper to learn the way everything goes, while still practicing when you get time. Get in good w/ a good experienced welder and he'll also help you get contacts and show you the ropes. You'll make decent cash if you aint never worked in the field b4. Experience as a helper will go a long way as when you get a helper, you'll know what to tell him to do and what you expect from him to make your job easier. "The helper makes the welder".  After you figure out how the program goes, and keep improving your skill, making contacts and getting in good with a few welders. They'll help you along and b4 you know it you'll be takin that 1st butt& branch test and be ready to roll.

Everybody thinks that since they can burn rods in a controlled enviroment, they are a welder. But pipelinin is a totally diff. animal: hot, cold, wind, rain, snow, not to mention bein down in a ditch in West Tx. during August and its 117'. Or that ditch that is half full of water and you gotta make that tie-in at 10:30pm and be back at work at 6am, to do it all over again.

Not trying to scare you away, it's a beautiful life, but a dramatic change for some that cant hang. But remember every Fri. you'll forget about all the BS when you get that paper.
Parent - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-19-2013 02:24
you right about the controlled environment but Im ready for the challenge and Im sure it wont take me that long to figure it out... I have zero problem with being a helper Im always trying to learn new things and I know I have alot to learn.. From what I hear helpers make decent cash.... Honestly I spent 28 months in Iraq dealing with some serious BS and possibility of loosing my life So Im sure I can deal with the BS of the pipeline.  Im ready for the challenge!! Thanks for the reply I appriciate it very much.  One more question.... where would I get a start on trying to get hired as a helper?
- - By Big Sherm Date 02-20-2013 03:14
Pull up to any pipeline construction yard and start asking for the welding foreman. Or go to the areas that are hot right now, and stop by a convenience store around 5pm and sit back and wait till they start pulling in to buy fuel, beer, cigs, etc... Go up and ask em' who they work for, where the yard is and who the welding foremen is. If you see they have a helper with them dont ask if they need a helper, if they don't have 1 with them, feel free to ask. If they give you any info, the next morning be at that yard at 6AM and look for the welders trucks. Walk up and ask for the Foreman.

   If your in EP, there is some work in New Mexico, Pecos, Odessa, Amarillo going on right now. The major pipeline Co.'s will usually hire you, as they can use extra helpers on the front end. Find Contractors somewhat near your area and call and find out who the WF is and where the yard is.

You can look online fore the major players and call whatever #s you find and ask for locations. DONT ask for the welding foremans ph # as they are busy as hell. Talk in person, unless you are told to call him.
Parent - By Superflux (****) Date 02-20-2013 15:34
If it were me, I'd ask whether the helper is there or not.
A) It might make a better helper out of him if he knows how easily he can be replaced.
B) He probably knows another rig that needs a (new?) helper.
C) Ya just never know until you ask every one. Any and everything is possible in the Boom Towns.
I wouldn't drive 1/2 wat across the country just to sit in the truck and let intuition be my determining factor. I'd rattle every cage and turn over every stone. More options give you better bargaining power. Get cards from every one you can. Write place, time and date on the back. Helps with documentation of taxes, and I always write my odometer reading too.
Just cuz some welder tells you how great he is, well every welder is the greatest and you can't tell if it's real or blowing smoke.
Hey FWIW, this is just some of things I do when pounding on doors.
Parent - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-21-2013 05:09
yeah thats the plan when I get everything set up... Talked to a guy from Sundt Construction. They are running pipe for diesel in Santa Terressa, NM (dont know about the spelling) Shot em my resume hope to hear back, 2in sch 120 tig root and hot pass stick out xrayed. I think I might head towards Pecos Midland area.... Just seems like there would be way to many people chasing the same thing down in that area plus I want to get out this area, but if the moneys there then Im there. Ill be sure to take all your advice Im ready to get down and dirty and make some money!
- - By Big Sherm Date 02-20-2013 03:27
As for machines. Stay away from Lincoln Vantages. If you want an inverter machine, the Miller Pipe-Pro is the way to go. It's hard to beat a Lincoln 300D for mainlinin. If you get in good with a few welders and pay for fuel and beer, they'll let you weld w/ there machines a little to see how they perform, but knowing what to look for and how to read the puddle w/ diff machines comes w/ experience.

Oh and the #1 thing to learn from pipeliners, well any welder for that matter. Learn how to make good excuses, complain about any/everything...lmao j/k, as Ive been welding for a day or 2
Parent - - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-21-2013 05:02
yeah Im getting that lincoln 305g just because I gotta rock the f150 till I can upgrade to a dually. Ive been looking at the sa200's I use one at work when we do field work. I figure once I upgrade trucks and get a pipeliner or classic I can use the lincoln for generator power and a back up just in case. I would love to have that pipe pro just dont have that kind of cash.... what they running for? Like 13K right? Havent even looked twice at vantage I think the shorthoods looks cool!  Ill figure it all out just hope I can find some decent work with my little rig first goal is to work towards my upgrades!!
Parent - - By Tommyjoking (****) Date 02-23-2013 21:55 Edited 02-23-2013 22:55

I don't want to say a lot, you are getting good advice.  I will tell you that word of mouth and having a stack of contacts that new customer can call will give you more strength for growth and staying busy then anything.  Hustle, do the best you can with the situation you have to work with and make sure you leave that guy happy.  He can be key to you getting the next job and the one after that. One of my greatest mentors told me "build it like you never want to see it again"  that philosophy has done me a lot of good.  Starting out is a lot of unpaid hours bringing in more work.  Its a tough gig have no doubt, running any business is.  Some people thrive on it, some drowned in will not take you long to figure out which one you are.  Good luck to you.

btw> Ron just don't blurt out job contacts or info like that on the internet.  Making a habit like that will have the jobs filled before you can get anything lined up or get your spot shoved out and replaced.  Most Rig Welders keep that kind of info close to the vest and only share it with people they know well.  If you found it and secured it you earned is unfortunate it is that way but when the economy is down it is pretty cutthroat out there....everybody is trying to survive, don't give it away to people you do not know WELL.  When another rig welder lines me up on the job there is a certain amount of trust there;  One I am not going to go screw it up and make a fool out of them.  Two I am not going to try to screw them out of that contact by lowering prices or spending every night at the strip club with their contact  OR pass that info to every swinging ^^^^ I know.  Even if you find these jobs openly on the internet, take care of yourself first before you share.
Parent - By ron.chapman (*) Date 02-23-2013 23:12
Tommyjoking thats some good advice thanks:smile:
Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / question for you traveling welders

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