The Last Pass: Should welders join a professional organization?

3 pieces of advice have proved beneficial to a veteran welder's career

Welding steel parts in workshop. Group of workers standing around workplace. People working in engineering industrial production.

Greg Siepert says three pieces of advice have proved beneficial to him in his welding career. The first piece of advice he discusses is the value of joining a professional organization. vm / E+ / Getty Images

What is the best advice you have received regarding your career? Did you apply it immediately or did it take some time?

I want to share with you what one of my instructors told me, but unfortunately, I do not remember who said it and so I cannot give credit where credit is due.

However, I was told three things early in my career that have benefited me in multiple ways:

  1. Find the professional organization associated with your career field, join it, get involved, and read its magazines or journals.
  2. Actively build your network.
  3. Never stop learning in life (this includes finding and maintaining a hobby to keep your curiosity alive).

I will address each of these points in future columns, but I will address the first item in this installment. To some, my words will seem obvious and redundant, but I hope they encourage you to move forward and become engaged in the field.

For me, finding a professional organization for welding was easy. I typed in something along the lines of “welding professional organization” into a search engine (back then, it most likely was Yahoo) and found results. Unfortunately, I put off joining an organization until later in my career due to membership costs. Looking back, I wish someone had educated me about the options available to me, such as a student membership.

I joined the American Welding Society (AWS) years later when I sent in my application for my CWI. While attending a CWI seminar in Kansas City, I chatted with Mike Vincent from the AWS Kansas City Section. He pointed me in the right direction on how to get involved with my local section. I became active in the local Kansas Section and the district meetings, which ultimately led me to serve in leadership roles.

As my exposure to the AWS grew, so did my exposure to the vast spectrum of organizations supporting manufacturing and welding, including the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, International Institute of Welding, American Society for Nondestructive Testing, SkillsUSA, and the Future Farmers of America (from the supporter side instead of the student side).

Many of these organizations have provided me with training opportunities and educational support. I have toured facilities and seen manufacturing methods across multiple industries, from small shops to large-scale manufacturers. I have attended educational sessions that provided me with new things to take back to my classroom. I have learned about upcoming technology and training methods in other countries. And most important of all, I have had opportunities to learn from fellow instructors.

On another note, I want to thank those who have reached out and provided comments about the past two columns. If you have time and want to share more, email me your questions, comments, and ideas at

About the Author

Greg Siepert

Program Coordinator/Welding Instructor

Hutchinson Community College

1300 N Plum

Hutchinson, KS 67501