Who Wants to be a Welder?

welderThere are many unique jobs to go into, and welding is one of them. Welding is not only a skilled trade, but as cited by the American Welding Society, welding is a STEM field.

Do you like working with your hands? How about working with metal? Are you good at critical thinking, foreseeing potential problems, working systematically, and identifying the best course of action for a given situation? Are you safety-minded? Are you physically strong and healthy? Then you may have what it takes to be a welder!

A welder is a trained, skilled tradesman who specializes in joining metal, usually through the application of heat. Welders may work with brass, steel, stainless steel, or aluminum. They may use hand-held or remotely controlled welding, flame-cutting, soldering, or brazing equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.

Welding was invented during the Bronze and Iron Ages in Europe and the Middle East as part of their efforts to manipulate iron into useful shapes, such as swords. The welding technique—which involved interlayering relatively soft and tough iron with high-carbon material, followed by hammer forging—produced a strong, tough blade.

Today, welders have varied employment opportunities. They may work in building construction, manufacturing, the automotive industry, shipyards, and even crafting. The basic skills of welding are similar across industries, so welders can easily shift from one industry to another, depending on where they are needed most. For example, welders who are laid off in the automobile manufacturing industry may be able to find work in the oil and gas industry.

As the economy rebounds, many new jobs for welders are projected in manufacturing industries that produce fabricated metal products and transportation equipment. The nation’s aging infrastructure also will require the expertise of welders to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings.

Types of Welding

  • Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)
  • Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
  • Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
  • Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
  • Electron Beam Welding (EBW)
  • Atomic Hydrogen Welding (AHW)
  • Plasma Arc Welding (PAW)

Types of Welders

  • Construction Welders
  • Manufacturing Welders
  • Structural Steel Welders (Ironworkers)
  • Sheet Metal Workers
  • Boilermakers
  • Industrial Maintenance Welders
  • Rig Welders
  • Pipefitters
  • Motorsports Welders
  • Shipyard Welders
  • Military Welders
  • Underwater Welders

Job Titles

  • Welder – Welding is the most common way of permanently joining metal parts, by melting the base metals and fusing them to form a permanent bond. Because of its strength, welding is used in shipbuilding, pipelines and refineries, automobile manufacturing, the construction of buildings and bridges, and aerospace applications.
  • Brazer – Brazing joins metals by melting and flowing a hot molten filler metal into the joint, often used to connect thinner metals that the higher temperatures of welding would warp.
  • Solderer – Soldering is similar to brazing, but the temperature used to melt the filler metal is lower. Solderers tend to work with small pieces that must be positioned precisely, such as computer chips and electronic circuit boards.
  • Cutter – Instead of joining metals, cutters use the heat from an electric arc, a stream of ionized gas called plasma, or burning gases to cut and trim metal objects.
  • Welding Machine Operator – Welding and brazing machine operators set up, operate, or tend welding, soldering, or brazing machines or robots that weld, braze, solder, or heat treat metal products, components, or assemblies.
  • Welding Inspector – Welding inspectors use visual tools as well as electrical instruments to check and ensure the quality and safety of connections and bonds between metals.

Similar Jobs

  • Assemblers and Fabricators – Assemblers and fabricators assemble finished products and the parts that go into them.
  • Blacksmith – A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging, hammering, bending, and cutting the metal.
  • Industrial Mechanics and Maintenance Workers – Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery.
  • Jewelers and Precious Metal Workers – Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, construct, adjust, repair, appraise and sell jewelry.
  • Machinists and Tool and Die Makers – Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.
  • Plumbers – Plumbers install and repair piping fixtures and systems.

A high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training, is typically required for anyone to become a welder, cutter, solderer, or brazer. You will need to undergo specialized training at a vocational school or community college. You might also be able to enroll in an apprenticeship or internship program. Another route is to join the U.S. Armed Forces and complete its training program. The median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers was $42,490 in May 2019.

Homeschooler Brendan Crotty used his skills in blacksmithing and welding for a STEM project related to metallurgy.

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