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ASU-Beebe Alumni Wade Jones Welds Across the Country
Posted Date: 3/29/24

By Charlene Chambers, Public Relations Coordinator

Arkansas State University-Beebe alumni Wade Jones has been ‘letting the sparks fly’ since he earned his certification in welding technology in 2016.

While Jones was a junior at Beebe High School, he toured the Searcy campus and was impressed with the technical programs offered.

“It was between being a diesel mechanic or welding,” Jones said. “Nobody in my family had been a welder. It was all new to me but I was determined to learn all about it.”

After graduating high school, Jones enrolled in the welding technology program. Jones said the program at Searcy provided the hands-on foundational learning he needed.

“They taught all the basics of pipe and plate welding. It was a great place to hone my skills and figure out which type of welding I wanted to do,” Jones said. “Once you have the basics of welding, you can get the experience and continue learning and growing in your welding skills and knowledge.”

Jones said he received technical certifications from the ASU-Beebe Searcy campus in both pipe and plate welding and started out working for local companies doing structural welding.

“Those first jobs I learned more about welding all types of metal, but it really wasn’t the type of welding I wanted to do,” Jones said. “A friend had joined a union as a welding helper and said if I joined, they would send me to jobs in pipe welding.”

Jones followed his friend’s advice and joined the Local Union 798 based in Oklahoma. Through this union, he has worked for contractors in the pipeline and natural gas industries across the country and the union provides all benefits, including healthcare and retirement, as well as tools and supplies needed for the jobs.

“I remember my first welding job working with a welder who gave me the opportunity to move into a helper position,” Jones said. “While working as a helper, I was always reaching for perfection on everything because to get a call from other welders to work with them is a big honor.”

Jones worked as a helper for five years, starting in 2017, and is now a journeyman welder. Jones said in order to move up from a helper to a journeyman position, welders must pass a welding test. To prepare for the test, Jones said he practiced seven days a week.

“You have to pass the inspection for bead, cap, cutting strips and the bend test – these should be perfect and there is no room for error. You need perfect scores,” Jones said.

Jones said his daily job duties include reading the blue prints, taking measurements and whatever is needed by the welder for that particular job.

“After preparing the job, the welder comes in and welds everything together,” Jones said. “The welder is expected to know all areas of the job and should be a perfectionist in the quality of his work. Those are the ones that are called on for jobs.”

Jones said there is more to being a welder than just knowing how to weld.

“You must be on time, don’t miss opportunities and provide quality work. Also, you need to be personable and willing to do what is asked, be easy to get along with or you probably won’t be called back. It is also about relationships and your work ethic,” Jones said.    

Jones said his high school football coach taught him responsibility and discipline within the team.

“Coach always said ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.’ Even though this quote was used in football, it is the same with welding. You should rely on practice and not be forceful,” Jones said.

So far, Jones’ welding career has taken him to 18 states.

“I have enjoyed traveling and seeing the country,” Jones said.

Jones said he also likes meeting people who are passionate about welding, such as the 72-year-old welder from Texas. “He was the model for what a welder should be. He had the skills and passion,” Jones said.

Jones and his wife, Stephanie, are newlyweds and she plans to travel with her husband to the jobs.

“Her family has worked in the welding industry for years and she is certified and has a labor union book,” Jones said. “It is a lifestyle, and you have to be dedicated.”

Jones has leaned on his faith many times over the years and said his dad gave him great advice he has used often: “Be patient and stick with it.”

In 2016, Jones received the ‘Outstanding Student Award’ for the ASU-Beebe Searcy campus.

ASU-Beebe Alumni Stories is a project of the alumni association with the goal of sharing and preserving the ASU-Beebe historical and educational experiences of former students.

If you are an alum and would like to share your story, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at (501) 882-8855.  

The welding technology program trains students for entry-level positions in various industries in the most commonly used welding processes, including gas tungsten arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding and flux-cored arc welding. The curriculum used for the welding program centers around the National Center for Construction Education and Research in Welding (NCCER), allowing students to earn NCCER credentials. In addition, students can earn certification through the American Welding Society.

For more information about programs offered at ASU-Beebe, call (501) 882-3600 or view the website at   

Founded in 1927, Arkansas State University-Beebe is an operationally separate, two-year institution of the Arkansas State University System. With campuses located at Beebe, Heber Springs, Searcy, Little Rock Air Force Base and online, the college offers associate degrees, certificates and noncredit training for business and industry.

Pictured: Wade Jones (third from left) is presented the Outstanding Student Award he received in 2016 from welding instructors (from left) Matthew Dunn, Terry McKinney and Dr. Cheryl Wiedmaier, dean of the Division of Career Education.

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