A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Spotlight on Welding: Never Stop Learning

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series which will span three generations of craft workers who have enhanced career opportunities for themselves and others through participation in the workforce development program at Jacobs.

Brandon Moore, Pipe Welder at Jacobs, currently works on the ExxonMobil Refinery project in Baytown, Texas.  Last March, Moore became the 2015 ABC National Craft Champion Gold Medal Winner in Structural Welding by completing a two-hour written exam then competing in daylong hands-on practical performance tests.  He received his welding training from the Jacobs Developmental Program and Lee College under the Construction and Maintenance Educational Foundation (CMEF), a training affiliate of ABC Greater Houston.  After winning the national title, he told Construction Citizen’s Jeff Stautner about how his training helped him prepare for the competition:

“[ABC/CMEF] taught me the right way straight from the start.  When it came time for the competition, they made absolutely sure I had everything I could possibly need to be prepared.  They contacted Jacobs and arranged that I have time to practice at work, learn from more welders and perfect my technique.  They showed me some video of past years’ competitions and spoke with me about what to expect once I got there.  They made sure I was prepared for anything the competition could throw at me.”

Moore was featured in Jacob’s internal Employee Spotlight publication.  He talked about training for the National Championships (NCCs):

“By the time I was a confirmed candidate for the NCCs, I only had about six weeks to prepare.  Jacobs loaned me all the textbooks I would need and advised me to read through them.  I had read through parts of some of the textbooks in my previous classes, but I still had to give them a thorough review.  I read four textbooks in six weeks’ time.  The last couple of weeks before the competition, Jacobs let me devote my time at work in a fab area making practice welds with advice from a couple of seasoned welders.”

Moore began his career in construction as a helper in an oil refinery.  He had graduated from college and was working as a Certified Nurse Assistant making $8.23 per hour.  Then he learned that there were job opportunities in the construction industry offering starting pay at $15-18 an hour with no experience necessary and nowhere to go but up, so he decided to give it a try.  While working as a helper, he worked closely with pipefitters, boilermakers and welders.  Moore learned about many available career paths, and he realized welding would offer a challenging career in which he could continue to learn throughout his life while earning a comfortable living.  Since then he has moved up from helper to pipefitter to structural welder to pipe welder.  Moore explained why he chose to study structural welding:

“Structural welding is the basis for all other types of welding.  You have to walk before you can run, and you have to weld structure before you can weld pipe.  Understanding shielded metal arc welding will help you understand all other types of welding and is the perfect place to start for a welder.  I plan on moving on and learning many other types and techniques of welding.”

When asked what he most enjoys about welding, Moore answered:

“There's a certain beauty to welding.  No matter what's going on in your life, once you drop that hood, nothing else in the world matters – not your mortgage, not your boss, not your kids.  It's just you and that little section of metal in that 2"x 4" window working to get that perfect weld and – with a little bit of skill, lots of practice, and the right amount of patience – achieving it.”

Moore talked about the importance of continuing education and training through Jacobs for developing his craft:

“I'm the type of person that wants to know absolutely everything about what I do.  I want to be able to weld everything, everywhere and know what I'm doing every step of the way.  I want to be a critical asset to my company.  As a welder, the more types of metal you are skilled at welding, the more jobs you can work on and the higher chance you have of having steady work.  Not to mention your negotiating strength is greater if you are able to weld different types of metals and use different welding processes.  I'll always be seeking to further my education to become the best I am capable of.  For Jacobs, training me further also benefits them; they will have a skilled worker they need to finish the more skillful jobs the client requires, and the simpler jobs should be completed safer and with higher quality.  With higher education and training, everyone wins.”

Finally, Moore was asked what advice he would give someone considering entering the construction industry.  He said:

“The construction industry is growing.  There are more jobs opening up every day.  If you work hard and show initiative, there is no end to where you can go.  Keep your core values along the way – respect, honesty, and hard work – and you will go far.  The work is out there, all you have to do is go find it and never stop learning.”