Ovie Cade’s nontraditional career path stands in stark contrast to the current norms. While his fellow high school graduates went off to universities in the hopes of landing a job after four years of study and student loans, he began work as a shop-helper for a company in Houston.
The company offered him welding training opportunities if he did well. It only took 30 days and they made good on the promise. He began hands-on training in the evenings after work.
“The rest is history,” he said, recalling generous advances and raises over the following three years. “I was making ends meet while others were spending years in school.”
He said he felt valued, as quality welding was, and still is, in high demand.
While the pay was attractive, he said there was more to the career than money.
“The more you get involved with welding, the more you find it’s a science and a career,” he said. “Welding is a well-respected job and welders are needed.”
Cade is a self-proclaimed man of “small stature,” which he said made him even more valuable, since he could crawl into tight spaces to weld where others couldn’t.
He gained experience with myriad materials in diverse environments, including structural welding, fabrication for vessels, refineries, piping systems and more in his decade as a welder, then served as an instructor for community colleges in Houston during the last 12 years.
“I have my talents, skills and abilities and knowledge of the trade. I have more than 22 years of welding experience along with my knowledge and education,” he said. “I think I’m going to be very effective.”