At age 24, Anthony Bartlett’s military service was nearing its end and he found himself considering his next steps. In the U.S. Army Bartlett worked in satellite communications, providing Internet and phone capability to Army users; he was a network person in a tactical setting and served in Korea, Afghanistan, and finally at Fort Lewis in Washington. At Fort Lewis he learned about the NACE Foundation Workforce Development Program through the USA Cares veteran assistance program, a NACE Foundation partner.
Bartlett knew nothing about corrosion or that there is an entire industry of professionals dedicated to corrosion control, but the NACE Foundation introduced him to occupations in the field of corrosion control and ways he could translate his military skills into a new career. “The program seemed well catered to people in the military with backgrounds like mine, it’s a good transition,” says Bartlett. “Every job in the military requires strong technical skills, whether it’s with computers or machines, it all translates really well. In some cases there are corrosion jobs that require lots of travel which most veterans are used to and can easily handle; and the technical work, often in an outdoor setting, is just like what I was used to in the Army.”
Bartlett applied and was accepted into the NACE Foundation program in the summer of 2011, he was assigned a mentor, NACE member and volunteer Jonathan Loomis of Farwest Corrosion, who provided guidance and support. His first step was to take the NACE Basic Corrosion course in July; then in early 2012 he took, and passed, the weeklong NACE Cathodic Protection Tester (CP1) training course.
“The basic corrosion course experience was eye opening. It introduced me to something I didn’t even know about,” says Bartlett. “It’s very in depth; there was so much to learn in both classes. I enjoyed it.” One of the things Bartlett discovered in his classes, and now appreciates most about the industry, is that “it seems like there’s a never ending amount to learn and there’s always a challenge and that keeps me motivated.
During the weeks Bartlett attended his classes he met other students who were already in the corrosion industry. “It broadens your base by meeting others and everyone brings a different perspective and experience,” he says.
After taking Basic Corrosion, he said it was “impressive to see the level of skill across all industries” among his classmates, some of whom have been in the corrosion profession for more than 30 years. After his Basic Corrosion course, Heather Lowry, Program Manager of the NACE Foundation, encouraged him to attend the 2011 NACE Central Area Conference in Dallas, where he went to the career fair and was recruited for a pipeline integrity survey position. “The only hard thing was the fact that I had no exposure and no background in corrosion. It was difficult to understand what the actual jobs were specifically,” he says. “The day-to-day duties were unclear. Every position is obviously different, but it’s hard to know where to start.” Loomis helped guide him through career options and his first position in the industry consisted of 80% travel; being away from home was something Bartlett was used to from his Army experience, and he enjoyed the work. For the next few months Bartlett traveled around the U.S. to survey pipelines and spent about a month on the road and then one week at home followed by another month away.
Within a few months Bartlett took the CP1 course, which provided him with new skills to build his resume. Right around the time of Bartlett’s CP1 Exam, Loomis found out about an opening with his own employer, Farwest Corrosion, and helped Bartlett acquire a position as a corrosion technician.
When asked what he likes most about working in the field of corrosion control Bartlett says, “I like it because it challenges your brain, but you’re still working physically; it’s not purely a construction job where it’s all physical, and it’s not purely a laboratory job where it’s all theoretical. Your mind is challenged, every day is different. I go to different pipeline companies every day so it’s constant new exposure.
As a new member of NACE, Bartlett finds he uses his membership mainly for downloading and reading standards and reports. “They’re in-depth and good learning tools,” he says. “The corrosion conferences are very helpful,” he adds. “When I went to the Western States Corrosion Conference I took the rectifier course to broaden my skills. I learned a lot and got a good opportunity to network with more corrosion professionals. As my experience grows my involvement with the association will likely grow too.”
Reflecting on the program Bartlett says, “I don’t see this as just as a training program, it’s also a networking resource throughout the program. The resources of the NACE Foundation, and the mentors, are vast. They have all of the right contacts to help move a career along.” Now with two NACE courses and more than a year of professional experience behind him, Bartlett says his long-term goal is to keep learning everything there is to know and continue getting CP certifications.
“If it wasn’t for this program I have no idea what I’d be doing right now,” says Bartlett. “When I came out of the military I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was thinking about getting a civilian position in satellite communications, but other than that there didn’t seem to be anything translatable. At age 26, Bartlett has a bright future. “Entering the military was a way to get into some kind of field because I had no idea and no direction” he says. “I’m capable of hard, mental, physical, challenging jobs and I knew satellite communications would suit my abilities. I have a direction now and it goes much further out than a couple of years and I’ve never had that before.