The welding industry is wide open in terms of business models and niches. Once you have education and certifications in welding, you may want to run your own welding business out of your home. If you market yourself well and offer in-demand services, you can expect a median yearly income of around $41,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Starting as an Independent Contractor
Perhaps the cheapest way to get started involves marketing yourself as an independent contractor. You make yourself available to work on short-term jobs, typically for larger welding companies or for construction companies looking for experienced welders in your area.
As an independent contractor, you can gain real-world industry experience without needing to worry too much about running and marketing a business. You do market yourself, but mostly by sending out your resume and responding to job postings. It's a little different than marketing a business.
From there, you can start to build up your collection of welding equipment. Once you have the equipment, making the leap to a business owner is less cost-intensive. The networking you can do as a contractor is also valuable when starting your own business.
Becoming a Sole Proprietor or Corporation
You do have the potential to expand your business opportunities as a sole proprietor or a corporation. Once your resume includes relevant industry experience, it's easier to gain the trust of potential clients and to start welding at home for money. But now you have to choose whether you want to be a sole proprietor or to incorporate your business.
The main advantage of becoming an LLC (limited liability corporation) is that you cannot be personally sued by an unhappy client. Your personal assets, such as your home, are protected. Instead, your company's assets are on the line. Although being sued is never fun, you may appreciate the personal protection offered by an LLC.
Preparing for Home Welding Projects
Before you begin welding at home for money, make sure there are no zoning restrictions that would mean you could not operate a home welding business. Make sure you look up any local or state permits that you need for your specific line of work and check that your insurance is adequate for your new venture. It can't hurt to consult a lawyer to make sure everything is up to snuff.
You'll want to have plenty of space on your property in order to build a welding workshop away from your home for safety due to potential fire hazards and gas storage. You'll also want enough room for trucks and trailers to maneuver, just in case anyone hauls in large equipment, like a tractor, for welding.
Investing in Welding Equipment
Next, you need to ensure that you have the right equipment for the types of projects you plan to take on and the types of metals you'll typically encounter. Each welder has his or her own preferred method of welding for different projects, which include:
- Shielded metal arc welding
- Gas metal arc welding
- Gas Tungsten arc welding
- Flux cored arc welding
Each of these welding methods requires a different welding device to accomplish the job. You also need other tools to cut and grind the metal when needed. You need personal protective equipment (PPE) too, which includes:
- ANSI-compliant welding helmet
- Safety glasses to be worn under the helmet
- Fire-resistant welder's cap to be worn under the helmet
- Earplugs if there are loud noises and/or to prevent sparks and hot debris from entering your ears
- ASTM-approved boots
- Insulated and flame-resistant welder's gloves
- Long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Leather apron
If you have previously worked as an independent contractor, you should already have the appropriate PPE. Always check that it is in good condition.
Running Your Business
Now, you need to run your business like any other business. That means you need to keep organized records, market yourself and take good care of your clients. The welding is easy; it's the business upkeep that can be tricky. But if you love what you do, there's nothing better than taking on welding jobs at home.
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