Failing a welding test isn't the end of the world, or your career, it's merely the beginning of it.
So how should we deal with failing a welding test then?
New welders need to be familiar with having their skills tested over and over again in our industry. One of the main ways companies recruit welders is by having them take a weld test prior to employment, there really isn't any other way to know if you are or not qualified to do the job. So how should we deal with being so close to being hired yet not having passed the welding test that would have sealed the deal between you and the company?
Let's go over a short list of the ways we need to deal with failing the test.
Tip #1 - Accept the results.
Welders are stubborn by nature, we want to believe that somehow something happened that caused us to fail the test. (QC didn't like me). The truth is, it's a lot better to recognize that we have failed the test, and ask the lab (or company) to tell you what was the reason for the failure. Many times welding labs, inspectors and companies in general will be happy to show you the failed bend straps (or failed xray films) which will give you a clear answer as to what happened.
Tip #2 - Ask for feedback.
Like part of the previous tip says, asking for feedback from the lab or testing company will yield great results as far as knowing what you did wrong and how to avoid it the next time. I've seen welders who sometimes do not even finish their weld test and storm out of the test unhappy or disappointed. If you are able to recognize that your test has no shot of passing, you can at least stay to finish and just use it as more practice for future testing situations.
Tip #3 - Analyze the results, and get back to the drawing board.
Once you know the reason for your failed test, it's time to head back to the drawing board. This is why I always encourage my students to purchase a personal welding machine. Practicing at home and working on your weaknesses can help you strengthen your weaknesses and pass the next welding test without any further hiccups.
Tip #4 - Put the failed test behind you.
It is natural to feel uneasy when the next call for a test comes in. Flashbacks of the previous failed test may still haunt you and cause you to not believe in your skill or ability. It is important for you to realize that mistakes happen and if you have followed tips 1 through 3, you will now have a solid plan on how to tackle the next test and hopefully mentalize yourself to understand there is not reason to be afraid or walk in nervous.
Tip #5 - Stick to your testing strategy.
Very often I see welders (especially young ones) who will go in to take a test with a solid strategy, a strategy they have been using to practice, and then completely ditch it for something outlandish right when they're about to take their test. This is common when you go into a welding lab and you see other welders taking the same test but using a different strategy. If you have been practicing your test a certain way, it is always best to commit to your original strategy and not try new things.
Passing a welding test is probably the most satisfaction a welder can have during their professional career. Remember that having a strategy is always helpful and always remember that failure is simply part of welding. The sooner you embrace it, the quicker you can fix it and move on. By the way, if a welder tells you they 'ain't ever failed a welding test' they probably haven't been welding very long. Until next time.
About the author: Luis Alejandro is the owner and one of the instructors at Southern Arc Welding Services Ltd. Co.. He enjoys family, reading books on history, and writing to share his knowledge about the many situations welding can place us in.