James Young: Welder at Heart

"We set the bar really high and make sure they actually leave here with the skill set to be better than us."


James has always had a passion for welding. His first exposure to the industry was seeing welding done on TV, which fascinated him. He took a welding class in high school and fell in love with the craft, which inspired him to pursue a career in the field after graduating.

In order to gain the skills he needed, James attended college and enrolled in a welding training program. Both of his parents were supportive of this decision. His dad saw the beauty behind it and knew welding was a great fit for James, as it would allow him to channel his artistic abilities. His mom was excited to see he had something lined up and was pursuing his passion.

Because of his experiences and success in the field, James encourages parents who might be on the fence about welding to let the student take the chance. According to James, when you put in the hard work, the field can be incredibly rewarding.

After attending school, James got his first job in TIG welding, which he ironically didn’t learn in school. However, he saw this as a chance to grow and became better, so he stepped up to the challenge. His projects consisted of medical parts that you would find in hospitals, such as medical carts.

Later, James went on to do a lot of custom ornamental TIG work for the city of Pittsburgh. “It’s cool that I get to go home and everything that I see in the city I had a stronghold in building,” he says. For James, it’s rewarding to be able to walk through the streets of Pittsburgh and see what he did for the community.

After having a successful career in the industry, James decided he wanted to go back to teach and share his knowledge with students. He got into teaching at community colleges and was teaching night classes on basic and advanced welding programs at a local vocational-technical school.

Today, James is a welding instructor at Universal Technical Institute in Avondale, Arizona. He shares that the goal of UTI’s program is to prepare students to become exceptional welders and come out even better than their instructors. “We set the bar really high and make sure they actually leave here with the skill set to be better than us,” he says.

So what does it take to be successful in the industry? James shares that welders have a unique perspective. “As a welder, we look at objects differently than everyone else,” he says. Welders look straight at the weld and whether or not it’s sound, whereas others might look at the car as a whole.

According to James, another important quality of a good welder is determination. “If you’re not determined to master this craft, you’re not going to survive,” he says. There are a lot of challenges that come with being a welder, and having determination is key to pushing through them and creating a beautiful end product.

When it comes to the career outlook for welders, there are a variety of paths students can pursue. Students can get into unions, custom ornamental TIG work, fabrication shops or even start their own business. “This is a trade that goes from coast to coast,” James says. His story is proof of this!


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