Tim, 27 from Tulsa, OK, graduated the Professional Welder program at Tulsa Welding School in December 2017. Tim recently got promoted and came back to the school to hire his own replacement.
Thanks for your time, Tim. Tell us what brought you to Tulsa Welding School.
In the years after high school I worked construction, delivery driving, and fast food jobs. In 2017, my wife was pregnant and I was working in fast food. I had to make some tough decisions on what to do to be able to better support my family. My brother went through Tulsa Welding School in 2009, so he encouraged me to go. He said it would lead to a better lifestyle, and that I would immediately be able to start working in the field. I actually started working in a metal shop while I was going to school.
Is your brother still welding?
Yes, he is, and he supports his family through welding, too.
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Did you have any welding experience?
I’d done a little wire welding with my dad, but other than that, none at all really.
What was it that appealed to you about welding?
I’ve always been someone who enjoys learning new things. I’ve trained horses. I’ve done plumbing, electrical. I’ve worked a lot of jobs and have a lot of experience. Welding was a new one for me. But honestly, it was strictly a financial decision at first. But once I started learning more about welding, I discovered I really liked it. It’s very intricate, and you have to do it right in order to get good product.
What did you enjoy most about your time at Tulsa Welding School?
I actually enjoyed talking to people, getting to know them in that close environment, and learning with them. That was more experiential for me than the actual welding. I got to meet a crazy amount of people and make some good friends while I was gaining my career.
You made some lasting connections at school then?
I did. I’m a tattoo artist also, and welding is the same as the tattoo world. Who you know determines how good of a job you will get. If you make and retain those connections, then the better jobs you will get.
Tell us about your first welding job after graduation.
I started working for a company named Chart. I was working crazy hours, 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. I was pulling 70 hours a week. I had no time at home and got up at 3 a.m. But that first paycheck was like $4000, and that meant the world to my family.
Where are you working now, Tim?
I got referred to this company by Tulsa Welding School. I actually went to interview with both Chart and Centurion Games through TWS. I ended up taking the pathway to Chart, but they laid off some people. I was let go, as I was one of the new guys. As I’d already taken a weld test for Centurion, I called the boss there. He was having problems with the welder he had there, so he decided to let him go and hired me on. I’m the only welder at my company. I’ve been here nine months now.
What do you weld?
We now build oxygen machines for hospitals and clinics. Everything is new. The company is just starting out and we’re making a lot of headway. I build everything for them.
They are going to have to change their name, I guess! Did you recently hire a TWS graduate?
I got promoted to where I can interview guys who are going to start working for us when we start hiring. So yes, I just hired on Derek, a recent graduate, to be a grinder, cutter and helper. When we start hiring more people, he can go straight to welding. He’s really young, so it’s better to start him as a grinder and shop help. I’ll let him move into that welding role with more experience. He’s my helper, so I’m teaching him all the steps. He’s working out really well, and he only started a couple of months ago.
Have you had a pay raise yourself since that first check from your old company?
Oh, yes, I just got another raise. Welding has changed my life completely. It literally brought me out of a hole. I am now able to support my family financially myself without relying on my mom and dad for help.
Tell us about your family.
My wife and I have been married for a little over two years. Our daughter is now 15 months old, and we have another baby due in May. I’m pretty sure it’s a boy. We don’t really know for sure, but I’m guessing it’s a boy!
What’s your career plan from here, Tim?
I have a big goal. I love welding, but I don’t plan on being a welder for the rest of my life. I plan on opening my own business eventually.
What kind of business?
Once I save enough money, I’m going to open up a tattoo shop. I love welding, but tattoo has always been my first passion. I’m actually almost full-body tatted. I’ve always wanted to have my own tattoo shop. Welding is helping me get there.
What do you enjoy most about your new trade?
I enjoy making stuff. I build metal ornaments, and I couldn’t do it without welding. I’ve built realistic roses and all kinds of stuff. I build it and market it. It’s one of my hobbies.
What advice would you give to people considering Tulsa Welding School?
It’s going to be hard, I’m not going to lie. Welding is a hard job, and it’s hard to learn. But if you stick with it, go through the program and succeed, it will help you in the long run. You will develop a new respect for it.
How did you get through the hard times?
I looked at my family. They were my motivation. We weren’t doing well and I needed to make my family’s life better. My daughter was born while I was in school. I brought her to the school to meet the teachers. That helped me. I almost dropped out during hard times, but my family helped me see it through.
If you’re a TWS graduate and would like to share your success and be an inspiration to others, please email Social@StrataTech.com to be considered for a Graduate Connection interview. Please include details such as your graduation date (month/year), program, and campus name (Tulsa/Jacksonville/Houston).