Interested in Becoming a Welder? These are the Best Welding Helmets

Welding can be a rewarding career for many and a great side gig or hobby for others.  Finding the right welding helmet is important no matter what type of welding you do.  There are lots of different styles available, so it’s important to know what to look for so that you can make sure you find the right one for you, no matter how often you’ll use it.

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A helmet’s primary function is to protect your eyes from sparks, molten metal, and potential damage from the ultraviolet and infrared rays of the welding arc.  Secondarily, a helmet also protects your head and face from burns.  When it comes to head and face protection, the type of welding you do should be your guide.  If your work involves a lot of tight-space or overhead welding, find a helmet that covers as much of your head and face as possible.  You can get away with less coverage if you only engage in workbench-type welding.

A welding helmet lens, or eyeshield, can be adjustable or fixed in terms of darkness level.  If your welding jobs are consistently the same, you might be able to get by with a fixed darkness lens in a shade appropriate to your type of work.  Most welding helmet lenses are universal and removable, so you should be able to swap out different lenses if you need to.  Adjustable darkness lenses can either be self adjusting or manually adjustable.  You should opt for an adjustable lens if you do many types of welding that subject your eyes to a variety of brightness levels.  Self-adjusting lenses are the most convenient for situations where you experience frequent light changes during the course of a single job since you don’t have to take the time to adjust the darkness level yourself.  Many self-adjusting models allow you to set the sensitivity and delay, giving you more control over how quickly or slowly your lens reacts to changes in light.

Another thing to think about when looking at welding helmet lenses is the clarity you’ll get.  Some lenses tend to be a little blurry and offer a night-vision type of view, which can make close inspection of your work hard to do without removing your helmet.  Also be sure to understand how any lens works in your usual work lighting.  Some models are better suited for lower-light applications, while others are designed for brighter outdoor welding.

If you opt for a model with manual controls that you’ll need to access “on the fly,” make sure you find one with exterior controls.  These are easier to reach, but are also more exposed to sparks and more likely to be damaged if the helmet is dropped or handled carelessly than interior-mounted controls.

When it comes to comfort, especially if you intend to wear the helmet for long periods of time, weight is a huge concern.  Usually, you should look for the lightest helmet that meets your needs.  A difference of as little as a pound can feel like so much more when it’s worn on your head for long periods.  Given the usual position for welding, this extra weight on your head can lead to serious neck strain and even some back problems.  I say “usually” because some helmets are built in such a way that their weight is so well distributed that the helmet actually feels lighter than models that weigh less.  Your best bet will always be a helmet that, when you hold it in your hands, feels well balanced and lighter than you expected.

The last feature to consider is whether or not you need a helmet with a facemask that can be lifted up.  If your work involves frequent stops and starts, you’ll definitely want a facemask you can raise so that you don’t have to keep taking the whole helmet off and putting it back on.  Some masks have to be held in the flipped-up position; others can be locked in the upright position, which can be super convenient.

Whatever your budget and intended use, you should be able to find the perfect helmet now that you know the basics. For the best welding helmet brands, click here.

Great Ways to Make Money Without College

We’ve all heard that if you want a really good job, you’ve got to have a college degree.  While it’s true that, on average, college graduates do still make more than non-grads, at least for the first 10 years or so after graduation, the gap isn’t nearly as big as it used to be.  Also, more and more college graduates are starting their adult lives with so much debt that loan payments eat into the “extra” money they earn over non-college graduates.  In today’s world, many employers do require degrees for positions that used to be available for anyone with a good work ethic who was teachable.  The good news is that there are at least as many employers who are starting to realize that a college education doesn’t necessarily outweigh real-world experience.  In addition to such employers, there are a number of other ways to make a decent living without a college degree.

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Starting a rental service out of your home can be a good way to make money.  If you have equipment like a pressure washer or power tools, consider renting them to homeowners at a rate comparable to (or maybe just a little less than) your local home improvement store charges.  Quite often, you can find used equipment at garage sales on or Craigslist to bulk up your own inventory.  If you live in an area where TV or movie filming happens, you might even be able to rent your house, vehicle, bike, camper, or antiques to a production company.

If you love the outdoors, consider turning that passion into a career.  If you’re an avid hiker, camper, or white-water rafter that knows all of the best wilderness spots around, you could use that knowledge to organize retreats and guided adventures.  If you pride yourself on your survival skills, you could make money teaching those skills to others.

If you consider yourself a tech expert in terms of social media, you might be able to sell yourself as a social media consultant.  Many of today’s larger companies have a dedicated social media team, but a lot of smaller businesses don’t.  Offer your paid services as a consultant who can show small business owners the power of advertising and connecting to current and potential customers via social media.

Real estate is an area that’s been a moneymaker for many people for many years.  If you have enough up-front capital, you can partner with experienced developers or speculators.  You can also now find real estate crowdfunding sites to help you get your foot in the door.  Before sinking any money into any investment, make sure you do as much homework as you can to ensure that your investment partners are legit.

Lastly, and perhaps most solidly, consider a career as a skilled tradesman.  Welders, electricians, and plumbers (among others) will always be in demand.  Always.  These are jobs that simply cannot be replaced by technology.  Most skilled trades offer apprenticeship programs that allow you to be paid while you learn.  A job as a skilled tradesman guarantees a steady paycheck.  An affinity for the work and a commitment to learning and growing could earn you certification as a master of your craft, a designation that comes with a paycheck many college graduates would envy.

Why Integrating Schools is Important

Legally speaking, American public schools must be integrated, meaning that no student is turned away based on skin color.  Once upon a time, simple integration was seen as the answer to the problem of minority students receiving an education that was far inferior to the education provided to white students.  Over the years, though, the idea of integration as a way to level the playing field and improve racial equality in America has proven to be easier said than done.  Today, since so many neighborhoods are still separated by race and economics, many schools reflect these divides.  Unfortunately, these divides have resulted in most of our worst-performing schools being located in poorer, largely minority neighborhoods.  This lack of diversity and still-lopsided playing field in terms of public education is a problem that we must find a way to remedy or risk falling further behind the rest of the world in terms of the ability of our young people to succeed in an increasingly diverse world where quality education is critical, as is the ability to confidently face a world where we’ll meet and work with people from all races and economic backgrounds.

Multi-ethnic children standing in front of school bus.

The first step in correcting the problem is acknowledging it.  The focus can’t be only on a school’s demographics; it also needs to be on academic quality.  In other words, just saying that a school has a racially-diverse student body isn’t enough.  Instead, focus needs to be on making sure that all children have access to a high-quality public education.  Too often, the best performing schools are in mostly-white, higher-income neighborhoods.  There is absolutely no reason that the United States should not commit whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all public schools offer the same quality of education.  There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that higher-income white students are any more likely to achieve academic success than lower-income minority students.  The reason that so many test scores seem to say otherwise is due to the quality of the schools, not the ability of the students.

Many argue that redrawing school districts to force a more diverse student body is the solution.  Again, though, this won’t benefit all students.  Any minority students sent to higher performing schools will surely benefit, but those left at or sent to lower-performing schools will remain below par or quickly get there.  Many charter schools, including some in racially diverse and lower-income areas, have proven that race and financial class don’t have to be factors that affect a student’s chances to learn and succeed in school.

Finding ways to make all public schools racially diverse and first-class in terms of education offered is the best, maybe the only, way to ever really level the playing field for all Americans.  Additionally, students of all races who come from racially-diverse, high-performing schools tend to have an easier time adjusting to college or university life, as colleges and universities tend to be very racially and culturally diverse.  Those who go straight to the workforce from high school also benefit because they are already completely comfortable with the racial diversity that they’ll face “in the real world.”

In short, if we want an America where every child has an equal opportunity at academic success, we need to find a way to ensure that no school is allowed to offer its students a lesser-quality education simply because those students are not white and/or come from low-income households.