I just recently stumbled upon this site on accident. Well, not really; when I asked the Google Gods about CNC they pointed me over here. After browsing the various forums, I decided to make a post myself. So, here it goes...
A little bit about myself: I'm currently enrolled in a program where we are taught both, welding and CNC skills. The welding component of the program is much more extensive then the CNC portion. However, the CNC portion of said program is going to be starting in a few weeks, so I'd thought I register here and hopefully get some answers to a few of my questions.
So, here it goes guys. Hope you won't mind helping this novice out a bit.
1) I was wondering if you could offer any advice/recommendations/observations on what you think would be a better career move, welding or CNC/machinist work? I've heard and read about a supposed welding shortage on the horizon (more opportunity and a brighter future?); I've also been told that the better welding jobs (pipe) are mostly seasonal; that non-union jobs do not pay very much, etc. From the CNC side: Steady work; you are in a shop vs. in the field (weather being an issue for some people. I'm fine with working outdoors); merit shops - your skill set determines your worth vs. rank, nepotism, union politics, etc; maybe a lesser know skill than welding. With the folks over at the AWS sounding the alarm about needing new welders, more people will flock to welding then CNC, leaving more CNC positions available for the skilled.
2) Are there positions in the manufacturing industry where one could use both sets on skills on a job? So far, I really like stick welding. Although I haven't gotten into any of the CNC classes as of yet, I did take CAD 1 & 2, Architectural drafting 1 & 2, and PC repair classes in high school. I kinda have any idea what I will be getting into, but not entirely. I do believe that I will love the CNC portion of the program. What opportunities might be available to someone in a situation like mine.
3) I know developing welding skills outside of the classroom can be difficult. Is it equally as difficult developing CNC skills outside of the class/shop as it is in welding? What can I do on my own (spare/off time) to better my CNC skill set, if anything?
4) Lastly, what are employers looking for when hiring individuals that are new to the profession? Through the program I'm enrolled in, we are going to take (and hopefully pass) a test that leads to a National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certification. I understand that certified does not equal qualified, but do you feel this certification will help someone just starting out? What can I do to get my foot in the door of a company that is proactive in the development of their employees? While money is important, I'm really looking for a place that I can really learn alot while at work. Any advice?
Those are some of the questions that I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure as soon as I hit the 'submit' button, tons more will come racing to the fore-front of my mind. My CNC classes start in 2 weeks.
Thanks in advance,