What Does it Take to Become a Welder?

Is a Career as a Welder Right for You?

Take a look around you. It’s highly likely that you’ll spot at least one item that was put together by welding. Cars, bikes, bridges, buildings, planes, and boats are examples of things that are welded. Welding is the most common way to join metal parts[1].

Welders are the people who work to join metal and to create the vehicles, buildings, and infrastructure that make the modern world run. If you enjoy working with your hands, are detail-oriented, and have an interest in technology, a career as a welder might be the best option for you. Learn more about the career path and what it takes to become a welder.

What Welders Do

Welders work in a wide range of industries and areas, including automotive, aerospace, fabrication, engineering, oil and gas, and construction[2]. Depending on the area a welder works in, they might be responsible for building cars or planes, assisting in the construction of a robot, or putting together a bridge.

The exact responsibilities and techniques a welder uses on the job vary based on the industry they work in, the conditions they work in, and the type of metals they are joining. A welder can join metals together using any one of a 100 different processes, the most common of which is arc welding. With arc welding, a person uses electrical currents to produce heat and fuse metals together[1].

In 2016, the vast majority of welders worked in manufacturing (61%)[1]. Job environments for welders range from outdoor settings, including sometimes working on scaffolding, as well as indoors, usually in confined areas.

To be successful as a welder, a person should have a variety of skills. Some of these skills can be taught and developed in a training program while others are innate:

  • Physical strength and stamina. Welding can be a physically demanding job. It requires lifting metal, which can be quite heavy, as well as stooping, bending, or standing in one position for long periods when working.
  • Spatial skills. To successfully join metal together to create a three-dimensional object, a welder needs to be able to accurately interpret a diagram or blueprint.
  • Manual dexterity. Good hand-eye coordination is a must-have skill for welders.
  • Technical skills. A welder needs to be able to operate welding equipment.
  • Attention to detail. The work welders do is precise, meaning a welder needs to be detail-oriented.

The Job Prospects for Welders

Job growth for welding professions is expected to be about average over the next 10 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job opportunities will grow by about 6% by 2026[1]. Although welders do work in a variety of fields and industries, the job skills are largely transferable, meaning that you can begin a career as a welder in one area and switch to a different industry with ease.

As technology changes, and the need to repair and replace aging infrastructure increases, it is likely that more and more opportunities for welders will open up. It’s also likely that people with the most up-to-date training and certification in the field will be the ones more likely to find work as welders.

As of May 2018, the median salary for welders was $41,380, slightly higher than the median pay for all occupations[1].

How to Become a Welder

You don’t need a college degree to become a welder. In many cases, you can begin your career in welding after earning a high school diploma and completing a post-secondary career certificate in Welding Technology.

After earning a certificate, you can take the Certified Welder exam from the American Welding Society. The certificate program takes 14 months.

Depending on where you find work as a welder, your employer might pay for the cost of the exam. Many employers also offer on-the-job training that goes beyond the skills taught in a certificate program and that will help you learn exactly what you need to know to succeed in your career.

Does welding sound like an appealing career to you? Learn more about what it takes to succeed as a welder and how to develop the skills you need to get started in the career. Orange Technical College offers welding technology certificate programs at our Westside and Mid Florida campuses. To learn more and for details on how to apply, contact us for more information today.

Sources:

  1. “Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, updated April 12, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm#tab-1
  2. “Why Welding?,” Careers in Welding, https://www.careersinwelding.com/why-welding/

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