I’m sure it is tempting to jump right into the industry just after you finished welding school but trust me, you need to take a deep breath first. At this point, you don’t have much insight on how to set up a welding rig truck, so you’re most likely to either fail or overspend while doing so.
You have to acquire and modify a truck, gather all the welding and safety equipment, and then register as a welding service provider. Budget calculation is an important prerequisite that’ll keep away from spending aimlessly.
After setting up, you have to start networking for gigs and work your way up from there.
All of this might sound overwhelming, which is why I simplified things. Have a look below:
Topics Covered in This Article
- What is a rig welder?
- A Definitive Guide On Setting Up A Welding Rig Truck
- Expert tips for success
- Take it steady
What is a rig welder?
Before we jump into how you can set up a welding rig truck, I need to give you a teeny bit of idea about the world of rig welding. Rig welders work on oil rigs and are key players in developing infrastructure which is necessary for oil extraction, transportation, and processing.
Not just oil, sometimes they reinforce vital structures for natural gases as well.
Most of these rigs are in isolated or offshore areas, and you need extensive traveling with loads of equipment on your back. So, having a rig truck helps your case.
A Definitive Guide On Setting Up A Welding Rig Truck
If you’re new to welding and still trying to find your feet around all the different types of welding jobs, I don’t blame you for being confused. This is one of the advanced activities of this trade, and someone who is just out of welding school isn’t probably familiar with it on a field-level basis.
So, it’s pretty normal if the question “How do you set up a welding rig on a truck?” comes to your mind. I’ll show you precisely what steps you need to follow:
1. Budget calculation
You need to assemble a lot of stuff if you want to set up a welding rig truck. And like it or not, money will be involved here. I strongly suggest you sit down with a pen and paper to figure out your budget and whether or not you can afford one.
The equipment you need and the tools you’ll use both are expensive, and so is maintaining the truck itself. On top of that, there are perishable materials that you’ll have to replenish every now and then, like electrodes.
You could get some of these on a sale or through bargaining but I have doubts on its quality, that’s why you should keep a close eye if you’re buying anything like that.
And finally, there are insurance and business registration fees. Plus, you should always have some funds for a contingency plan.
So, as you can see, you’ll be spending quite a fortune. If I ask you to jump from a ledge with a blindfold, you won’t do it, right? It’s the same case here, and you can’t just invest so much money without thorough research.
Once you’ve ironed out all the details and came up with a decent budget, you’re set to proceed to the next part.
2. Preparing a truck
A big chunk of your investment will go on to prepare a truck for the welding rig. If you don’t own a truck, then there’s also the cost of buying one. In that situation, you’d also have to find out how much does a welding truck cost and expand your budget accordingly. See, how important it is to plan your expenses?
On average, it could cost you somewhere between $10k to $30k. It depends on how big your truck is going to be. And that, in turn, depends on the amount of equipment you’ll be carrying. If you’re planning to do large-scale jobs, you might need a dually for a welding rig, and those are really expensive.
You have a significant headstart if you already own a truck; in that case, you just have to modify it to your needs. You’d need a radio, air shutoffs, and flags. Don’t get the wrong idea; one of these also puts a dent in your wallet.
After this step, you’re almost one-third done with setting up the truck for welding gigs.
3. Assembling the equipment
Okay, so you’ve done your math and prepared a truck for your operations. Now it’s time for you to gather all the necessary machines and tools you need for your craft. But don’t just start blindly buying every piece of equipment, as what you need depends on the services you plan to provide. So, give it a proper thought and make a list.
But let me be a sweetheart and mention a few essential tools that would definitely come in handy:
- Welding machine
- Hand torch
- Measuring tape
- Weld leads
- Barrel torch
- Pipe cutter
- Air compressor
- Rigging tools
After you’re more familiar with the job, you can get another barrel hose, a spirit level, some hole pins and jack stands, etc.
I’m expecting that you’ll need these almost all the time. Having these around will be a great convenience. They’ll come in handy, trust me.
4. Making your business official
See, there is a certain order of things. If you think that you’ll just put together a truck, get a few tools and go on saying, “Hey! I’m a rig welder!” and assume you’ll get piles of work, then you’d be wrong.
The first step of getting work is to get your services acknowledged. For that to happen, you gotta register your business as a professional welder. This is the most tedious part of all unless you love paperwork because there will be mountains of paper in front of you.
Don’t get scared! You can easily do all the paperwork if you ask any of your friends to help you in this regard.
There are the following things you have to accomplish:
- Get yourself a brandable name. You’re in it for the long haul, make yourself a brand otherwise you’ll be far from the top. Don’t worry if you have to change it later, but it’s necessary to have a vision. I’ll give you a tip- relate your business name with something you love.
- Register your business. This is where you have to deal with a ton of paper, to the point it’s almost exhausting. It’d be excruciating at times but doing this is necessary because this way, you’re securing your line of work. Registration fees vary in different states and cities.
- After you’re done with paperwork, you have to wait for the paperwork to be processed. There isn’t much to do here but wait, and when it’s done, you’ll be the newest hotshot owner of a rig welding business.
5. Building connections
Whenever we set foot on unchartered territories, one of the first things we try to do is- get familiar with others. In life, having people who got your back is always an advantage. And in the welding business, it is one of the stepping stones for your success.
Let me explain; if you are on good terms with a veteran welder, then they’ll be an asset for your career. They’ll show you the ropes, let you in on some trade secrets, and might even help you land a few gigs at the beginning so that you can gather reps in this industry. Basically, they’ll be your wingmen.
This is why I firmly believe you should put some time into networking as soon as possible. Alongside offline meetups, you can also build your connections through several social platforms like Linkedin, Facebook, Reddit, Google business, Twitter etc.
You’ll only get work if people know about you; networking is the fastest way to make that happen. It’s never a bad thing to have friends. Receive a helping hand, get on your feet and help someone else in need; keep that cycle going.
6. Gathering safety gear
As soon as you land your first welding gig, you need to review the job thoroughly and find out about it’s risks. Later, you have to make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment at your disposal.
Whatever may happen, please do not cut corners on safety. You can always earn more money, but you can’t buy back a life. What kind of safety gear you need is mostly job-specific, but a few are needed in most scenarios. I’ll list them for you:
- Face shield
- Safety boots
You have to keep your eyes open while you get these stuff because what a welder uses is different from other craftsmen [for example, a woodworker]. The difference being, a welder’s gear has to be able to tolerate high temperatures and if possible, be fire resistant.
Safety has to be your number one priority at all times.
7. Keep your machines operational
You won’t understand how important this part is unless you’ve started working. When your business takes off, then you’ll find yourself working your tools and machines, even your truck.
You’ll be spending a lot of hours to keep them up and running. That’s not all; it’ll demand sacrifices from your wallet too! Remember I asked you to keep maintenance costs on your budget? This will come in handy here.
Nobody likes maintenance costs, but you need to have it sorted in order to keep your system at its best.
8. Build reps
You have 90% of the things by now. The final magic ingredient is- hard work! Keep on working diligently and persevere. Good work ethic and politeness might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, these go a long way.
A castle isn’t built on a day. If you do it right, your reputation and credibility will slowly grow, and eventually, you’ll become a powerhouse in the industry.
Expert tips for success
Setting up your rig truck and business is just the start; you have to sustain it as well. You’ll be surprised to know what tricks the experts followed when they were a novice that made them a star today. Believe it not, their secrets to success are not really anything hidden on a treasure map.
Have a look at these simple tips and tricks to have a better welding career:
1. Keep things organized
You’re on your way to starting your own business, and when it launches, your entire life will change. Naturally, you’ll have to adapt to that lifestyle. One of the critical things you’ll need to incorporate at that time is to keep your things in order.
I’m sure being your own boss has a nice ring to it, but that brings its own set of responsibilities. You keep track of every invoice, receipt, and any other financial dealings at the very least. Also, you need to keep your contracts and proof of any kind of payment somewhere safe.
A smart business owner will have the entire business at their fingertips. That’s the kind of person you should aim to be.
2. Be prepared for any work
As an independent welder, the volume of work you get depends on your skill and experience [and a little bit of luck]. However, you’ll have more variety of jobs to choose from as union welders are limited to jobs of their specialty. You’ll find yourself doing one thing today, a totally different thing on another.
In such a lifestyle, the worst thing that can happen is going to the worksite and finding yourself under-equipped for the job. Which is why you have to prepare for various kinds of work.
You don’t have to load yourself up with EVERY kind of job but you should have some level of preparation for projects which are related in nature. If you can’t pull off a project, communicate that as well. The more specific you are about what you can and can’t do, the more clarity your client has.
3. Recruit smartly
When your business starts to grow, eventually, you’ll need a helping hand. You’ll find yourself expanding your crew and taking in both experienced and novice welders. Remember, quality over quantity. When you’re recruiting, you should look at someone who communicates well, follows instructions properly, has a good work ethic and integrity. Physical fitness is also essential.
4. Minimize your distractions
While you’re out working, you have to keep your distractions as low as possible. Welding is a serious profession, and you’ll often find yourself in risky situations. One lapse in concentration, and you’ll be risking your life.
Let’s consider that you’re at no risk of fatality, but even so, you are still risking injury. Or, you might make a mistake that could lead you to miss your deadline.
Basically, there are no merits of being distracted on the job.
5. Have a set of rules
When you’re under someone, there’s always someone breathing down your neck and keeping you in line. That’s something you won’t have when you’re the boss of your own business. Such people often get complacent, and their standards start to fall.
If you want to have a well-sustained business, you have to bound yourself to a certain set of rules to maintain your productivity. For example, you can establish a punctuality policy or a no-alcohol rule.
Such an approach will definitely help you keep your focus.
These are the simple philosophies that the ones at the top incorporated into their lives. Yes, they look bland, but their effect is massive. Just give them a try and see how it transforms your business.
Take it steady
No matter how excited you are to start your own adventure, it is always best to take baby steps. Right after finishing welding school, you should seek an apprenticeship under an experienced welder.
Even if you learn how to set up a welding rig truck, there’s still many things a novice will lack at the beginning; like experience, connections, resources, and most importantly- credibility. So, you need to be patient and rise up steadily.