Structural Welder Job Description
Structural welders weld metal on structures and tools of all types. These professionals also perform repairs on metal pieces to prevent structural fatigue. Structural welders generally work daytime weekday hours and work for private and government businesses, both as full-time employees and on an independent contractor basis. Structural welders are supervised by the job or company foreman, and sometimes travel is required for this job because structural welders must physically go out to structures and projects that need welding.
Structural Welder Duties and Responsibilities
Structural welders weld pieces of metal together as their core duty, but many responsibilities and daily tasks are included as part of the job. In addition to welding, structural welders complete many regular duties.
Inspect Completed Projects
Structural welders inspect planned and existing projects and tools for flaws that may compromise structural integrity.
Structural welders must perform regular maintenance on metal projects to ensure that they remain safe and strong.
Structural welders look for potential problems in welded projects and structures, and identify weaknesses before they create structural integrity issues.
In some companies, structural welders are responsible for training other welders and apprentices.
Maintain Safety Standards
At all times, structural welders must follow and maintain all safety standards and avoid cutting corners that may compromise the safety of structures.
Structural Welder Skills and Qualifications
Structural welders understand how to work with metals to create safe, supportive structures and tools. In addition to candidates who have welding skills and training, employers seek out candidates who display the following experience and abilities:
- Reading blueprints and schematics – structural welders must know how to read blueprints, schematics, and design drawings of all types.
- Measuring abilities – structural welders must know how to work with and read measuring tools of all kinds, from basic rulers to calipers.
- Manual dexterity – structural welders have to be good with their hands, because even one mistake can cause serious injury or accident.
- Mathematics – structural welders perform complex mathematics to calculate how much weight metals can withstand, and understand geometry to design and create safe structural elements, which makes strong math skills an essential requirement of this job.
- Physical ability – structural welders must climb, crawl, and weld in a variety of positions that include laying down, sitting, and standing, so people in this position must have the physical ability to successfully perform these tasks.
Tools of the Trade
Structural welders work with many types of tools regularly to perform their basic job functions.
- Welding equipment (welding torches, wire brushes, chipping hammers)
- Safety equipment (face shields, gloves, welding aprons)
- Metals (carbon steel, angle iron, base metals)
- Handheld tools (torque wrenches, clamps, hand files, vice grips, pliers)
Structural Welder Education and Training
Structural welders need a high school diploma or equivalent, along with some form of apprenticeship welding training and/or education obtained through a trade or vocational school program. Structural welders must also pass a full background check and drug screening.
Structural welders receive some on-the-job training to become familiar with the tools and equipment used in the course of the job. This training period varies by company, but usually spans two or more weeks.
Structural Welder Salary and Outlook
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that ironworkers received a median annual salary of $50,830 in 2016, or $24.44 hourly. Ironworkers install structural metallic elements and reinforce iron and steel to support buildings, roads, and bridges, the same duties performed by structural welders. In 2016, there were 90,300 jobs available in for ironworkers. Through 2026, available ironworkers jobs are expected to increase by 13 percent, a rate that is faster than the national average.
Structural welders usually receive health and retirement benefits from their employers, as well as paid vacation leave and paid sick days. Worker’s compensation benefits are also included as a standard part of this job.
Find tips, tricks, and educational and career opportunities for structural welders with these helpful books and websites:
American Welding Society – use the AWS website for information about certification programs and educational opportunities, to find books and publications, and make use of resources that help structural welders advance in their chosen career.
Welder Industrial Training: Objective Question Answers – this book is full of questions and answers for structural welders that provide information about welding tools and practices to help professionals master the ins and outs of this career and learn all the basics of structural welding.
Ironworkers – the Ironworkers Union website is full of information about structural projects, standards of excellence, basic and advanced safety standards, and career opportunities for structural welders and other types of ironworkers.
Structural Steel Fabrication Practices – use this reference guide for practical information that welders need, such as how to work well with varying types of metal. This guidebook also contains important calculations regarding structural weight of metals that structural welders work with on a regular basis.
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