#WhyWeWeld: Bryn Otto
It’s no secret that every young person leaving high school faces an important choice: whether to go into work, or to study further. Since the decision impacts heavily on one’s future and finances, all options require serious consideration, especially in the context of which field to enter.
For many young people, especially those who want to escape the confines of a traditional classroom while engaging in a technical and challenging field, welding is a great option. This was the case for Bryn Otto, an 18-year-old welder and student based in Nebraska.
“My interest in welding began three years ago as a sophomore in high school,” Bryn tells YesWelder. “I had no clue what I wanted to do for a living, but I knew that I didn’t want to go to a four-year college.”
The appeal of welding lies in its broad applications as a skill crucial to the advancement of our society, enabling everything from the manufacture of important goods to the creation of extraordinary art. Young people may be attracted to the field’s flexibility and a diversity of experiences offered to young welders. “There’s many routes to take in metal fabrication,” Bryn explains, adding that possible career paths and work opportunities for welders include “custom [fabrication], underwater, pipeline, boliermakers, art, etc.”
And with these many potential career paths comes a variety of entry routes into the trade. Beyond welding academies and community colleges, one can enter the field through on-the-job training and apprenticeships, as Bryn tells us: “My high school connected us welding students with local apprenticeships and it really set us up and prepared us for the real world more than a classroom ever could.”
While welding apprenticeships have been around as long as the trade itself, an especially unique element of working as a welder in the twenty-first century is that the work doesn’t necessarily end in the fabrication shop, even for younger welders like Bryn. Social media and e-commerce have generated opportunities to make this kind of work, traditionally something that happens beyond public view, primarily in weld shops, on pipelines and construction sites, something more visible and interactive.
Bryn is an impressive example of a public figure in the growing online welding community, having amassed over 36-thousand followers on TikTok, and founding the “Surgeons of Steel” welding collective, a group of welders who share their work online. Today’s youth is not only generally skilled at producing and sharing content online, they are monetising it too — and the trades are no exception to this growing phenomenon of youth entrepreneurship, powered by social media.
“Social media is a big possibility for young welders to advertise their business,” says Bryn, who also started a metal art shop on the e-commerce platform Etsy. “Social media can make or break someone, but with the right use it can absolutely benefit a young welder that has goals in place.”
It is clear that welding offers many opportunities, but it is also true that such a technical trade involves learning curves — including the need to gain a holistic understanding of the work. “There’s much more to it than just slicking out a bread, it’s the understanding of the process . . . that really [sets] you above other welders,” Bryn explains, “As well as being able to measure, cut, fabricate from beginning to end.”
While Bryn’s previous apprenticeship involved fabricating parts for farming equipment, he has now started at a community college in order to gain that all-round understanding of what it means to be an outstanding welder: “I personally plan on taking a route that is often under looked by young welders which is the inspection route. I am currently going to a local community college for my welding technology degree and from there I plan on getting my NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) degree and after that get my CWI (Certified Welding Inspector) and being able to certify other welders, and possibly teach welding eventually after a decade or two in the field inspecting welds!”
Bryn's first ever welding competition
Of course, any young person looking to get started in life has many consequential decisions to make. If there is one thing to learn from young welders like Bryn, it is that the right combination of ambition, hard work and a strong gameplan can only help those starting out today to get ahead tomorrow.
Thank you to Bryn for his input. Be sure to check out his TikTok, Instagram, and Etsy.
I think this awesome what your goals are in life as well as helping others achieve endless opportunities
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