Once you’ve graduated from a good welding school, it’s best to get an apprenticeship where you can work under experienced welders, and get hands-on experience with welding jobs. An experienced welder can teach you so much, correct your technique, and give you advice from their own years of experience on the job.
If you’re just starting your career, you might want to work for a welding company before you decide to venture out on your own. Get some experience, get to know the industry, and familiarize yourself with the players in the market before you think about doing your own thing.
It’s never a good idea to rush into these things. Rigging up immediately after school or when you’re fresh out of an apprenticeship is probably just you setting yourself up for failure. Resources, credibility, and experience are pre-requisites for any business, and setting up your own rig truck is no exception.
No matter how ready you feel to handle your own welding truck, you have a lot that you still haven’t figured out. It’s not as easy a task as you might have anticipated. Ask yourself; do you have the right support to start up your own welding truck – emotional, financial, and physical? Do you have the capital to register a business, and buy the necessary vehicles and tools? Do you have enough experience or certifications to assert credibility? Is your networking strong enough to get you multiple clients and welding jobs? Is your current knowledge of the industry correct and not overly-optimistic?
If you have enough years of experience under your belt and have a superior understanding of welding and what it requires to start a welding truck yourself, then you should go ahead and pursue it. There are many people successfully running their own welding rig trucks, and if you think you have it in you, too, there is no need to hesitate.
How to Set Up a Welding Rig truck
Here is a complete checklist that you can consult before deciding if you’re ready to start up your own welding rig truck.
Count the Cost
Ascertain how much the entire set up is going to cost you and see if you can afford it. Most beginners don’t anticipate just how expensive it is to set up a welding rig truck. None of the tools and equipment are cheap, and you cannot compromise on the quality. You might also have to make modifications to the truck to hold the equipment you require.
You will need welding supplies like rods that you will have to keep stocking up on. Once your business is up and running, you will also need to spend on the maintenance and repairs of the machinery and the truck to keep everything in good shape – not to mention the cost of registering the business and getting insurance for yourself. If you have enough money of your own to invest, that’s great. If not, consider taking loans.
Buy/Modify the Truck
If you don’t own a truck at all, you might need to buy one. That’s one substantial incurring cost too. If you do own a decent enough truck already, you don’t have to get a new one necessarily; you can make-do with your current one with a few modifications and alterations. These modifications may include adding air shutoffs, radios, flags, etc., and these are no less expensive either.
Get the Tools and Machines
While the tools and machines that you choose to get largely depend on what type of welding services you’re offering, some of the basic tools to help you get started and that can take care of most of the welding work include air compressors, lighting systems, various types and sizes of grinders, pipe cutters, cut-off tools, saws, pipe stand, porta-band, chains, come-a-longs, clamps, and various rigging tools, such as slings, chokers, etc.
Register the Business
Registering the business takes time and money. There’s more paperwork than you would expect. You’ll need to decide on a name, pay a registration fee, and fill in a bunch of documents before you can proudly own and use the business name. Once the documentation process has been completed, your welding rig setup is legally recognized.
Network to Get Gigs
If you’ve worked before under employers, you might have acquired some contacts and learned how and where to get work from. Your previous networks and clients could help you get your first few gigs, as you struggle to make a name for yourself.
Take Care of Safety
Safety equipment is an absolute must in this line of work, and you cannot skimp on it. Welding masks, protective clothing, face shields, ear muffs and plugs are just some of the safety equipment you require. Taking care of your own and your employees’ safety should be your number one priority.
Keep the Upkeep
Once your business has taken off, you will realize how much you have to spend on the upkeep of your machines, equipment, and truck. Traveling through rough terrain and long distances will take a toll on your truck, and the equipment might need some work to keep them working at their best. Keep a schedule of regular maintenance work that needs to be done.
Maintain a good work ethic and work hard, and eventually, you will build a client list and credibility with your clientele. Credibility comes only with consistently good work and great customer service. Once you make a name for yourself, the clients will start to roll in.
Tips from the Experts
Here are a few tips for people starting their own welding rig trucks for the first time. It might be exciting to have your own business and do your own thing as an independent welder, but it can also be exhausting, as you’re solely responsible for anything that goes wrong.
- Establish some rules that will not be broken under any circumstances – These include a strict no-alcohol policy or a punctuality policy. These rules will keep you motivated and remind you that you cannot get away with bad practices just because you own the business.
- Recruit wisely – If you’re choosing an apprentice or novice to help you out with your projects, get someone who is open to learning, has the right work ethic, and is willing to listen to you and take criticism well.
- Avoid Distractions while working – Have a completely distraction-free zone while working. Not only can distractions prove to be dangerous in this line of work, but they can also cause you to make mistakes that can be hard to reverse, make you late on your deadlines, and cause you to lose out on clients.
- Be organized – There is a world of difference between being an employee and being an independent welder. While it feels nice to be your own boss, it also comes with a whole lot of responsibilities that you never had to bother with during your employment. Proper bookkeeping should be done, receipts and payments should be monitored, and proof of payments and contracts should be safely stored.
- Be prepared for all sorts of work – Independent welders get all sorts of projects, and if there are only limited services you offer, communicate that clearly. You can’t travel miles and miles, only to discover that you’re not equipped to perform all the services that the client expects of you.
- Maintain a good work ethic – A good work ethic goes a long way when you’re looking to build a reputation and a name in the market.
If you think you’re ready and committed enough to own and set up your own welding rig truck, then you should definitely go for it. As an independent welder, you can get more ownership of the projects you are doing; you can earn more profits, and even provide mentorship to budding welders and welding entrepreneurs.
Do you have to buy a new truck to set up your own welding rig?
Not necessarily. If you have a spacious truck with enough horsepower, you can customize it to fit in a welding bed and welding equipment.
What are some tools I will need to carry in my welding truck?
Frankly, it depends on the type of work you are planning to do. Some basic tools include an air compressor, various types and sizes of grinders, cut-off tools, Sawzall, porta-band, pipe cutter, pipe stand, and lighting systems, to name a few. You certainly want to include PPE, which includes safety glasses, welding jackets, and other body type protective clothing like face-shields, respirators. You should always have various types of filtering canisters that are suited to different applications, ear-muffs, or earplugs. Chains, clamps, come-a-longs, and various rigging tools such as chokers, slings, etc., are also necessary tools that you need to have.
What are the cons of becoming a rig welder?
There are many pros to being the owner of your own welding truck, but there are some downsides too:
- There is a lot of competition in the welding industry
- It needs a lot of financial capital
- There’s a lot of paperwork that needs to be done
- It is a dangerous business, and you need health insurance.