Meet Matt Krause
Matt Krause, aged 22 from Houston, TX, graduated from the Tulsa Welding School in 2012.
Thanks for your time Matt; what made you choose a career in welding?
I knew I wasn’t going to go to university and sit through four years of classes. A few months before graduating high school I met a guy. He’d never been a welder, but he’d got some certifications under his belt and become a weld inspector. Three years out of school, according to him, he was making $80,000 a year. He said if I didn’t want to go to university there’s a lot of work out there, if I don’t mind getting dirty. As an 18 year old, that $80,000 obviously sparked my interest.
So how did you decide on TWS?
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Around the same time a friend of mine, Cody, had a conversation about careers with his cousin who owns a welding and fabrication shop here in Houston. That got him thinking about welding. When he and I next spoke he said, “I’m thinking about becoming a welder” and I said, “So am I!”
They’d arranged for an HS Admissions Representative from TWS to meet Cody and his family. We asked them to come to our house too. We talked about it, and all our parents talked it through. It seemed to make sense; there seemed to be a lot of work out there. Our parents agreed to cover our living expenses if we knuckled down and got it done. So we both enrolled and moved up to Tulsa for seven months.
What was the favorite part about the program, and why?
I liked how it was really fast paced, and how good the instructors were at keeping you on your toes. As you’d start to perfect what you’re learning, they’d switch you on to something else. That’s how it is in the real world; you don’t get a ridiculously long time to finish a job when you’re working. You need to focus on doing a good job, but doing it fast. The school did a good job of teaching us that.
How long did it take you to find work after graduating?
I had a job within about 10 days. A guy call me for a weld test about three days after I got home, but I busted that one. A week later I got a job with an ambulance manufacturing company here in Houston. I worked there for six months. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was a foot in the door. I got to work with some guys who’d been welding a long time. They were pretty good and taught me a lot.
Where did you find those job opportunities?
Craigslist. At the time there were a lot of jobs posted there. I found three of my first weld tests there.
What did you do with your first paycheck?
It was direct deposit; when I saw it in my bank I thought there’s no way I’m spending this! It wasn’t much, but I had a lot of fun making it. I couldn’t believe I’d got paid that much money to do what I did!
Three and half years on, where are you now?
My skills are worlds ahead from where I started. I’m making quite a bit more money too. I told myself that I’d try my best to only take a job doing TIG welding. It was my favorite process in school. The owner of the company I’m working for now, it’s quite small place, was a welder at NASA for six years; he’s real good at what he does and he’s a real believer in TIG welding. I’ve been there almost two and half years
I knew when I walked in the door it wasn’t an average shop; I knew I had to be a cut above the average to shine. I actually failed my first weld test here, but he told me to practice and come back in about a month. I practiced and went back and passed and now hold four certifications.
What kind of stuff are you working on?
We do a bunch of different stuff, so being able to adapt is important. We get a lot of random stuff come in. Our biggest customer is a pretty well known machine shop and most of their customers are off-shore operations, so we do a lot of stainless steel stuff for underwater use. I was itching to learn how to TIG weld stainless steel! We get jobs come through that are a lot of fun.
What are your future plans?
I’ve been pretty good at saving money over the last couple of years, so I’ve just bought a used diesel truck, a dually. I’m now trying to get a welding rig together with all the tools I need. I want to go out and do this for myself. I’ll try to get a few side jobs to start, maybe build a little client base. Once everything is set up and works well, then I might take off and try and double my paychecks. My goal is to make it further north where it’s a little cooler. I can’t stand the weather here in Houston.
What was your dream job when you were a kid?
I was one of those kids who asked their parents, “Who makes the most money in the world?” They told me lawyers so I said, “I want to be a lawyer” There’s no way I could ever be a lawyer! Honestly I don’t think I ever had a dream job, I just wanted money in my pocket and to drive a nice corvette one day!
Do you feel you’re on your way to becoming a specialist in your field?
I think so. With some more work, and trying my best to learn new things, there’s no reason why one day I couldn’t own a shop and do certain things that most people can’t, you know? There’s guys in my shop that haven’t been welding as long as me, and I learn things from them. They experiment, and when things work great, they share it. We all do. Anyone can become a specialist, it’s just how bad you want it.
How have you changed over the last few years?
I definitely gained a work ethic. I wake up every day and get to be an active part of society. There’s a sense of pride that you’re doing something cool that not a lot of other people are doing. Some of the people I grew up with are sitting in classrooms still, not making any money.
All power to them because they wanted to go to college. But it’s cool to be able say I was a teenager and already paying taxes. A lot of people I know who have college degrees are back home saying, “What do I do now?” Well I know what I want to do and I’m doing it already. I’m on my way!
What’s your favorite aspect of your new trade?
What I enjoy most is knowing all the different things I could do as a welder. I could go to diving school and become an underwater welder; I could go work on a pipeline in Alaska; I could build race cars and roll cages. I can do all sorts of things and go anywhere because I know how to weld.
What advice would you give to new students who are just starting out?
If you want it, stick with it and don’t let anything get in your way. And practice. Take every chance you have to practice your welds so you don’t come up short on your tests. The more you can do the better.
What do you do for fun?
I’m a big second amendment supporter, I shoot a lot of guns. I only owned one gun before TWS, now I have nine. I also like working on cars too. Plus I’ve got a great girlfriend who I enjoy being around as well!
If you were a millionaire for a day, what would you do?
I’d buy my parents a nice lake house first, and then I’d hire a bunch of friends, pay them real well, and build a really sweet car!
Let’s finish with some quick fire questions?
- Football or baseball? Baseball.
- Ford or Chevy? Ford.
- Pizza or wings? Pizza.
- Win the lottery or find a perfect job? Perfect job.
If you’re a TWS graduate and would like to share your success and be an inspiration to others, please email [email protected] to be considered for a Graduate Connection interview, please include details such as your graduation date (month/year), program and campus name (Tulsa/Jacksonville/Houston).