DRPIPE nailed it, i have this saying, i also use it in investing in the stock and bond market, "if you want to make money, then follow the welding rod", basically go to the locations booming in the energy business, search out the better corps. involved, then apply, once started as a welder, things will fall into place, this is one of the trades that are quickly noticed by the higher ups when there is an employee with exceptional skills and work ethics, many times there will be in house training available, far more valuable than being in the class room. work goes in cycles, right now this country is ready for a huge domestic boom in fossil fuel exploration, it would be a shame to miss out on the open door opportunity of this cycle, sitting in a class room. also as stated by our union guys, getting into the right union may suite you just fine. my opinion is to get your foot in the door now, you have enough skills, the work is there, go do the research as where to go. good luck to you, I wish the very best for you and your family. Kevin