Welder Job Description
Simply put, welders join metals together. Such ability makes their services valuable to a plethora of employers, including ones in construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, and aerospace. Because of this diversity, workplaces vary significantly. Some welders work indoors on plant floors, while others handle outdoor assignments. Conditions can be dirty and noisy, and inclement weather can be pesky. Safety is a major concern since welders are exposed to hot materials and intense light. They also are at risk for problems from repetitive motions. Most welders work full time in either eight- or 12-hour shifts. In places where production is constant, welders may work at night.
Welder Duties and Responsibilities
While the nature of the employer’s business plays a large role in determining what a welder does on a daily basis, some tasks are common to most who take on the position. Our perusal of job postings reveals the following core activities as common to the profession:
Welders pay close attention to the information they are given on blueprints, sketches, and the like. What they produce must match what was expected in order to ensure quality, safety, and function.
At the heart of welding is melting and fusing metals together with heat. This might mean joining certain pieces together to construct a traffic pole or bonding steel beams to create a super-solid bridge. After carefully laying out the elements to be cut or bonded, welders use torches and similar high-heat producers to perform the physical act.
Inspect Welding Work
Welders examine their work to ensure it measures up to quality control specifications. An inadequate job could have disastrous consequences, such as a part breaking off of an automobile. They also look at the materials being used to be sure they’re up to standard. For instance, they may check that steel components were properly painted in order to prevent rust.
Since this profession has a high rate of illness and injury, safety must be top of mind. In addition to wearing proper attire, welders follow governmental guidelines, such as ensuring proper air circulation by setting up a portable ventilator. Companies oftentimes provide safety checklists that welders are expected to maintain daily.
Welder Skills and Qualifications
Being a welder involves certain physical abilities. Besides a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination, welders do a good deal of bending and lifting. Other factors critical to success include:
- Attention to detail – accurate, precise work ensures a job well done
- Math aptitude – a good grasp of numbers and calculations is needed to make correct measurements and ensure alignment
- Self-motivation– work is oftentimes performed alone, so being able to focus and produce without supervision is valued
Tools of the Trade
As they perform their job, welders may use these items:
- Safety gear (such as heat-resistant gloves, welding helmets, safety goggles, safety shoes)
- Torches (various types depending on what materials are being connected)
- Holders (such as welding magnets and clamps that keep pieces in place)
- Computer-aided design software (to see design and specs)
- Welding robots (programmable tools that automate the welding process)
- Blueprints, diagrams, and similar instructional material
- Hand and power tools
Welder Education and Training
At minimum, welders hold a high school diploma or the equivalent. Aspiring welders often take technical education classes during high school to learn basic skills and see if they enjoy this type of work. Job prospects increase for candidates who pursue postsecondary studies at vocational institutions, especially if they become certified. Knowledge of robotic welding may particularly attract the attention of hiring managers. All new hires should expect a significant period of on-the-job training to become well-versed in their employer’s procedures. Experienced welders sometimes go on to careers as welding inspectors or shop foremen.
Welder Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for “welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers” as about $40,000. Workers in the lowest 10 percent make roughly $27,000, while the highest 10 percent earn upwards of $63,000. Geographic location can greatly affect earnings in this profession.
Approximately 404,000 Americans were employed in the above-mentioned category in 2016. The BLS projects this figure to rise to about 427,000 by 2026, an increase of 6 percent. The need for welders to help repair the nation’s aging infrastructure is a prime factor in this growth. Note, too, that many current welders are reaching retirement age, and new workers will be needed to take their place.
Still have questions about becoming a welder? We’ve put together a list of great sources of further information to help with your decision-making:
American Welding Society – this organization is a go-to place for everything related to welding. From career considerations to spotlights on women in the profession, you’re sure to learn something new on its website
Welding Journal – published since 1922, this industry magazine keeps welders up to date on the latest trends and technologies
Welding for Dummies – learn about the different types of welding and the techniques used for various projects in this easy-to-understand entry in the popular yellow and black book series
Careers in Welding – this guide put out by the Institute for Career Research examines what welders do and how to find your niche among the many environments in which the services of welders are needed
Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs – the Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, created this website to encourage young people to explore the industry as a possible career choice. Find information on summer manufacturing camps, scholarships, Manufacturing Day, and more
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