Skilled Trades Careers

SkillHero Spotlight: Cal (Welder & CTE Instructor)

DateMarch 18, 2024
Cal Manning, Welder & CTE Instructor

Cal Manning (@cal.manning), a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Welding Instructor at Haun Welding Supply and Haun Specialty Gases, has years of experience in both the field and classroom. He believes a career in the trades isn't just about getting a job; it's about doing something that matters, with skills that are in demand and essential to our world.

This blog post is a part of our skilled trade professional spotlight series. Check out our post on Instagram spotlighting Cal. In our interview, Cal shared about the value of trade education, the power of a good mentor, and how the welding scene is constantly changing. You can also check out this Q&A on our LinkedIn account. Let’s dive in!

Q&A with Cal, Welding Instructor

SkillHero: Could you share a bit about your journey into welding? What initially drew you to the trade and what aspect of being an instructor do you find most rewarding?

Cal: I started welding when I was about 14 and fell in love with it in high school. I knew early on that a traditional desk job wasn't for me. After high school, I dove straight into a trades training program and then worked across various sectors, including construction and sales. But what truly lights my fire is teaching welding. There's nothing quite like seeing a former student thriving and supporting their family through the skills you've taught them.

SkillHero: What are the biggest advantages of trade programs for young individuals? How do these programs shape their futures?

Cal: These programs are crucial. Without them, many students might never discover trades like welding as a viable career path. When I was in school, the push was always towards college, but not everyone fits that mold. Trades offer a tremendous opportunity for those willing to work hard. You gain a skillset that's invaluable and in high demand.

SkillHero: Speaking of valuable skills, what challenges do your students face, and how do you help them navigate these obstacles?

Cal: The biggest challenge is often communication and finding the best way to connect with each student. Since we're a private school, we have the flexibility to tailor our curriculum to meet students' needs, starting with the fundamentals of welding and building from there. It's all about making those connections and helping students see their potential.

SkillHero: That's a great approach. Can you walk us through the fundamentals you emphasize in your welding classes?

Cal: We begin with the basics—safety, setup, rod and wire selection, and polarity. From there, we progress to hands-on welding, teaching students to weld in flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead positions. The real learning, though, happens when we start working on projects. That's when students really begin to apply what they've learned and hone their skills.

SkillHero: How do apprenticeship programs fit into the picture? How do they prepare your students for the workforce?

Cal: Apprenticeships are key. They offer students a chance to apply their skills in the real world, under the guidance of experienced professionals. In our area, there's a lot of construction and new industries emerging, so there's a tight-knit community working to prepare these students for future opportunities.

SkillHero: That community aspect is so important. With welding offering various career paths, how do you guide your students in choosing the right specialization?

Cal: It's all about where they see themselves in the future. Whether it's pipe welding, structural, or even artistic welding, there are countless paths they can take. The trade is always evolving, with new technologies and techniques emerging, so staying open and curious is crucial.

SkillHero: It's clear the welding trade is advancing. From your perspective, how is it changing, and what does the future hold?

Cal: The field is definitely evolving, with advancements like laser welding and robotic welding becoming more common. However, there will always be a need for skilled welders to oversee these technologies. It's an exciting time, with endless possibilities for those entering the trade.

SkillHero: Lastly, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in welding or any skilled trade?

Cal: My advice is simple: work hard and stay curious. Seek out those with more experience, learn from them, and never stop exploring your craft. The trades offer a rewarding career for those willing to put in the effort.

At SkillHero, we're all about connecting folks with a rewarding career in trades, and Cal's story is exactly why we do what we do. His experience and outlook really highlight the importance of what we're aiming for: empowerment through learning, the strength of community, and the vast opportunities in skilled trades. SkillHero Banner

Feeling inspired by Cal's journey and thinking about starting your own in the trades? SkillHero is here to help guide you from the get-go. For starters, check out our blog posts on becoming a welder, what a typical day as a welder looks like, and how to create a stand-out welding resume. Then, sign up for SkillHero for free, dive into the opportunities, and kickstart your career in the trades: