I was a self taught welder myself. Self taught as in ,hired out as a helper and ask as many questions as possible. Got with a good welder that showed me right from wrong. I am not trying to tell you to be union or non -union either. I was a non-union welder when I was on the firing line and non-union inspector now. Had I bought a book many years ago I would have had a tremendous retirement. On the jobs that I inspect on they are about equal as of now. Up north there are more union jobs than in the south.