What Do Welding Careers Look Like?
Welding careers have some of the most easily accessible training programs, along with a consistent rate of growth. Our world is continuing to evolve around us and as we move forward to newer technologies, our need of metal workers will increase as well. Almost everything within sight of you, all the time, is created with the help of welding processes. Construction sites, freight transportation, agriculture, mining construction, highways, and aviation are all made possible with the skill set of professional welders. Becoming a welder just requires a little bit of research, along with being willing to fully commit yourself. One of the flexible parts of becoming a welder is being able to choose your location, and when you are able to work or train.
Steps To Become A Welder
Becoming a welder requires just a few things, and how quickly you decide to get it done is up to what fits with your current lifestyle. The usual comprehensive program is at least a few months but sometimes can just take weeks, giving you time to really learn the basic skills necessary. At the end of your course, you will prepare to challenge the welding certification exam. The certification will depend on the state you live in. Some states may not require welders to be certified; however, it often makes you a more competitive applicant for welding jobs.*
After completing the basic certifications for welding, the training doesn’t stop. Many welders finish their training programs and begin an apprenticeship to improve their skills and get more on the job experience. This period of 3 to 5 years, depending on the job, is what cements your position in the company. The companies that offer these programs are looking to make an investment in an inexperienced welder, hoping that they will stay with the company for a long period of time. At the end of your apprenticeship, the company you work for will look for you to pass a turnout exam, proving your capabilities as a journeyman welder. As you look to become a welder explore the options for welding jobs, remember that there are an endless amount of possibilities to get a good welding job.
8 Types of Welding Careers to Consider
All of our Welding Career stats below come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a great resource to learn more about any career!
Along with the different kinds of welding processes, there are a variety of jobs that work in different industries and rely on different types of welding. One of the most common welding jobs is being an ironworker, a tradesman who erects the structural steel frame of metal buildings, stadiums, hospitals, wind turbines, tunnels, and bridges.** The welding process used most often is SMAW or Shielded Metal Arc Welding. They unload and place materials, machinery and operate aerial lifts. The ironworkers also finish the exteriors of the buildings with concrete, and perform industrial maintenance. These professionals usually have to complete three to four years of an apprenticeship to become a journeyman ironworker.***
Pipes are used in every building, ship, and commercial vehicle construction. This process involves measuring and using angles to make sure that the whole system will fit correctly. Pipefitters install, fabricate, assemble, and maintain mechanical piping systems. The welding processes used are MiG, TiG, and SMAW welding. The different types of piping systems include: industrial, commercial, and marine heating/cooling systems, as well as steam, ventilation, hydraulics, chemicals, fuel and oil. The requirements to become a pipefitter vary, but most include a four to five year apprenticeship.****
Slightly more complex then creating the piping system itself is creating a pressurized container that holds the fluid or gas needed. Boilermakers are used to repair and create commercial steam and hot water boilers used for heating and domestic hot water in commercial building and multi-family dwellings. These boilers are referred to as pressure vessels, a storage tank that has been designed to operate at or above 15 psi. To become a journeyman boilermaker you have to complete an apprenticeship that is about four years long, and have a certification that teaches you to sign each weld on a pressure vessel with a specific stamp.***** These welders use GTAW, SMAW, and GMAW welding processes.
Sheet Metal Workers
One of the most versatile forms of material, sheet metal, is used in almost every welding job. It comes in sheets or coils and is used in the construction of car bodies, airplane wings, medical tables, electric machines, transformers, and roofs for building. These welders have an apprenticeship program of about five years, with four to five weeks of class a year.****** They learn forming processes such as: bending, curling, deep drawing, expanding, hydroforming, laser cutting, perforating, stamping, and water jet cutting. Any object that requires a metal shell probably requires a sheet metal worker. These welding processes are also commonly used in automotive welding. The techniques are used to reshape the body of the car, as well as work on the suspension and frame. They use GMAW and GTAW welding processes.
Welding educators have years of experience and are in high demand by large companies with an internal welder training department as well as at training schools. Most jobs involve office work and offer a better work environment than the construction and industrial work. Being an instructor requires a well-developed skill set but usually pays less then construction or industrial work. Most places hiring recommend having a bachelor’s degree, but experience often makes a bigger impression.
A welding engineer is in charge of some of the more complex aspects of welding. An effective engineering program provides training in four cross-disciplinary areas: welding materials, design, processes, and nondestructive weld evaluations. Having a well-rounded education prepares the student for work in the modern industry. Usually this requires a four-year program, completed at an accredited school.******* Students finish the program with a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering or Materials Science. Having the ability to create and read construction plans, as well as having a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of actual welding processes, allows for an individual to work quickly and efficiently.
Welding inspectors must be on site to check the work being performed. This ensures that a steel structure being erected will hold the weight required. The inspectors use methods involving macro etch testing, fillet-weld break tests, guided bend tests, and hardness testing. The methods make sure a weld is developed to become as non-destructive as possible. The inspectors work to confirm the presence, location, and coverage of the weld. Along with the different welding processes, welding inspectors have different certifications for the different welds. This must be renewed every three years, and usually there are welding inspector programs to help prepare the welder for the test and familiarize them with the inspection tools.
Welding in a high-pressure, dry or wet, environment is the difference between hyperbaric welding and normal welding. While there are many techniques available, many are not applicable because of the presence of water. Most underwater welding repairs involving marine or offshore structures are carried out in shallow depths. The advantage of underwater welding capabilities is that it saves money. This is due to the fact that the structure does not have to be pulled out of the sea, this saves time and dry docking costs. Underwater welding is also an important technique for emergency repair. The damaged structure can then be transported to a dry docking environment for more permanent repairs or scrapping.
The higher pressure affects the capability and efficiency of the welding process used, changing the temperatures present and the arc behavior as the gas flows differently. Wet underwater welding exposes the diver and the electrode to the water. This means they use a special waterproof electrode that is similar to equipment used for dry welding, but the electrode holders are heavily insulated.
The biggest hazard of underwater welding is the risk of electric shock to the welder. To create safety standards, the welding equipment must be adapted to a marine environment, properly insulated and the welding current must be controlled. Because the workers are also divers, there is a risk of decompression sickness or long-term cognitive and possibly musculoskeletal effects. This program takes at least twenty weeks to train for, if not longer; however, trained underwater welders often have much higher salaries and more job opportunities.********
Endless Welding Career Opportunities
Having the personal ambition to search for where metal is being shaped and thinking outside of the box will create more job opportunities for you as a welder. Improving yourself and having a reputation or working hard will make it easier to choose where you want to live, how much risk you are willing to take, and what job you want to take. This was a small list of the industries that require skilled professionals to keep progressing and growing as a business. The possibilities for welders are endless and will continue to grow and transform as new technology and innovations create new industries.
All of our Welding Career stats come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a great resource to learn more about any career!