Are thinking about becoming a welder but worried it might be a stressful job. Truth be told welding can be a stressful job. I’ve been doing it for 20 years and I don’t want to sugarcoat things and make it sound like it’s perfect. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to this.
Stress from a welding job can come in many ways from working in 95+ degree heat, dealing with your boss and other employees, the job you are welding, your health, family life, and even your own mental capacity can all play a role in how stressful it will be for you.
In this article, I’m going to break down all of these various stress points down for you and also share what you can do to alleviate or even avoid this stress altogether. So if you are considering welding as a career and this is a concern for you then keep reading.
1. The Heat
Heat can cause extreme stress. Working in 90 degree heat and welding 8 to 10 hours per day can take a huge toll on your body. Over time it can cause you to break down mentally, and start to get short with people.
In the heat of the moment disagreements and can become a full blown arguments. Why does this happen?
High temperatures over time will start to build up stress. This is usually different for everyone but when you combine some of the other stress issues I’m going to cover in this article it can lead to huge amounts of stress.
How To Deal With This Stress: The best way to deal with this issue is to dress as cool as possible. We also run floor fans as well. Having even just a little air movement will help keep you cool.
If that’s not possible you may want to consider getting a welding helmet cooling kit. While this is a bit pricey it will help to keep you cool while welding. Below is a picture of what I’m talking about.
Finally, keep yourself hydrated and drink a lot of water. If your joints are hurting it’s likely that you aren’t drinking enough water.
2. Your Boss
Your boss can also make things stressful. As someone who runs a welding shop I know what that can be like. In most cases I try not bother my employees while they are working. However not all work places are like this.
I’ve known other places to be down right terrible to there employees. Doing everything from demanding them to work two hours over their shift and counting the whole day against them if they don’t comply.
Some bosses are just down right terrible people and others are great.
How To Deal With This Stress: I’ve found smaller weld shops and companies like mine to be a little more lenient versus big factories. This isn’t always true but in most cases it is. Also, take the time to do your research and see what that company is like.
Check them out on social media or local job boards and see what others are saying. If it isn’t good then it may be a sign to stay clear.
There is no such thing as the perfect boss but if you go in for an interview it’s a good way to see how they treat their employees and if it will be a good fit for you.
3. Other Employees
Have you ever worked at a job and had to deal with that one employee who is always a pain in the butt to work with? Welders by nature can be a crude bunch of people. Over the years I’ve dealt with all kinds of bad employees.
I’ve even had other employees quit because of other employees and even walk out on the job. Some welders can be the most helpful people while others wouldn’t lift a finger to help you.
Why is this? To be honest I don’t know but it can drive the stress level of all the other employees through the roof.
How To Deal With This Stress: One of the best ways to deal with this is to avoid them altogether. If this person works next to you I find wearing a set of earplugs a good way to stop them from talking to you if you don’t want to listen to their trash talk.
If it get real bad, then consider talking to your boss or HR department. Sometimes they can help in relocating you to a different spot.
In my shop, I find the stressful welders like this the most tend to work better by themselves so they can’t raise the stress of everyone else.
Finally, try to stay away from really negative people. These are the people never have anything good to say. This will only drag you down and build up stress.
4. What You Weld
Some welding jobs can be simple and very repeatable jobs. Other jobs can be complex and overwhelming. I can remember one time where I had to weld something that was a bit out of my comfort level and it had to be done right now.
To make it worse the person that normally did those jobs wasn’t in that day which left it to me that day. By the end of that day I was stressed out and upset.
In the end, I knew that I should have just declined to do the job because I wasted a whole day on it and the customer didn’t even take it.
How To Deal With This Stress: The best way to avoid this kind of stress is to know your limits. If a job is way over your limit and to complex let your boss know ahead of time. This will save both of you time and headaches later.
If you’re boss still wants you to do the job be honest with them upfront, and let them know this may be a bit more than you can handle.
Finally, if you do have to do the job let them know you might want them to check over your work as you do the project. This can help you so you don’t get the project welded together only to find you did it all wrong.
5. Your Health
Your body and how it feels also plays a big role in your health and the amount of stress you have. For example, I recently talked to one of my employees about how he had a pinched nerve in his back that was causing problems with his arm.
While talking to him I noticed how much his arm hurt. I recommended he talk to a chiropractor and do a few other things. I could tell how much this was stressing him out and as a result of not taking care of it right away, it was costing him money for time off work to deal with this issue.
I had a similar issue like this a few years back and it causes a huge amount of stress but it doesn’t have to be like that.
How To Deal With This Stress: Take care of your body by doing basic exercises to stretch your muscles. I like to use a tends unit to help relax my muscles and joints, and ice packs when I have a pinched nerve.
Also try to drink a lot of water, not just coffee and pop. If you fill yourself up with garbage all day you’ll feel like garbage all day.
Finally, get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night. Welding can be an exhaustive job. If you burn the candle at both end its bound to catch up with you.
6. Family Life
When it comes to a career in welding it can demand long hours at work at times. Sometimes this can mean working six or seven days a week. If you have a family this can be very stressful.
I can remember one specific time we had a job that demanded 12to 16 hour work days. From the moment I was up till the moment I was at work. This kind of work schedule can work for very short periods of time but if this is something that goes on for weeks or months it can be extremely stressful.
That particular summer I didn’t get to see my family a whole lot but when things slowed down a bit I made sure to spend time with them.
How To Deal With This Stress: Start by putting family time first. The last thing you want to do is neglect them even when your welding job slows down.
Next, if you have vacation time make sure you schedule some time off to take a family vacation even if its just a few days.
Finally, let your family know your still there for them even if you can only see them for very brief moments.
Finally, as a welder you’re going to deal with an internal stress. If you work long hours and all you do is watch the clock slowly tick by its going to wear on you.
Then you have the combination of all the other things going on in your life, and at work building up stress. Some people can handle this great and others don’t handle it well at all.
When these thing wear on you long enough the tension can cause things to snap, leading to arguments.
How To Deal With This Stress: Make sure you try to take some time for yourself. Do something other than work for once. I find doing anything else than work can relieve a lot of stress.
This could be playing video games, gardening, taking a bike ride. Just do something different to get your mind off of work.
Finally, take some time to take to people. This could be a friend, spouse, or even a coworker. Doing this will allow you to get things off your chest that might be bugging you.
Now if you’re reading this article and it sounds like welding can be stressful it can be, but it’s not like this all the time. I’ve dealt with each of these issues over the last 20 years and as I’ve shared there are ways to relieve that stress as a welder.
So take some time to figure out where are things stressing you out as a welder and how can you deal with them now. Can you put systems or processes in place to identify and deal with them as they come up?
For example if a negative coworker is always talking to you what can do avoid them?
Understanding these stress points in your welding career will make it better for dealing with these situation so your job doesn’t get stressful.