Brandon Moore, a welder for Jacobs, Webster, Texas, won the gold medal in structural welding at the 2015 National Craft Championships (NCC)—but his story didn’t start there. In the first of a two-part series written by Brandon, hear his story about choosing a career in construction, his experience as a craft trainee and what winning the gold medal at the NCC means to him.
When I graduated college, I asked myself, “What’s next?”
I started working as a certified nurse assistant making $8.23 an hour, but as I was looking for possible career paths, I heard the construction industry was hiring with starting pay at $15 to $18 an hour with no prior experience necessary and nowhere to go but up. All you needed was a little bit of drive and a willingness to work hard.
So I packed my bags and found a job in Texas as a helper at an oil refinery. I watched my fellow workers, learning about the various crafts and possible career paths open to me—boilermaking, insulating, pipefitting, safety, electrical, etc.
I found my answer in welding.
The work suited me and I was fascinated by the welding process. I found that it was a craft that would always present a challenge and offer more to learn. Jacobs, the company that I work for, is partnered with Associated Builders and Contractors and the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation and they were more than happy to pay for my welding school, so I signed up as soon as I was ready to commit to a craft and haven’t looked back since.
I knew I made the right decision as I grew into my craft. While some people enroll in a class for a craft and find it’s not suited for them, I found that I was quite good at it, learning faster than most of the other students, mastering techniques in only a couple welds, and leaving each class with a lot more energy than I had when I walked in. I not only found my place in the lab, but my test scores were also in the top of the class. It was something that I enjoyed and excelled at—exactly what you look for in a career.
Then I got the opportunity to compete at the NCC. The prizes were great and all, and the recognition was nice, but being able to put that I was a gold medalist at the NCC on my resume will open more doors than I ever could have imagined. A potential employer sees that you won the national championship and you can get just about any job you please. It’s also a great confidence booster for those days when you might doubt that you deserve to call yourself a welder.
It’s been a challenging road but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it and I’m excited for what’s to come as I progress. I always want to keep learning—there’s always a new type of metal to work with or another welding process to master. But I don’t just want to stop with welding. Ideally, I will learn and master other trades as well. I want to see how far I can climb with the skills that I learn.