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Welding Jobs: Opportunities & Outlook

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Ever thought about becoming a welder? If you love creating new things, working with your hands and problem solving, this could be the perfect career path for you.

Welding is the process in which two or more parts are united by means of heat, pressure or both. It is most usually used on metals and thermoplastics but can also be used on wood. This process is used across a wide variety of industries.

Keep reading to learn all about what welders do, potential job opportunities in the field, salary, career outlook and more:

What Is Welding Used For?

From theme parks to motor vehicles to railroads and trains, welding is used to create important components of things we use in our everyday lives. Some of the many industries that utilize welding include:

  • Automotive maintenance and production
  • Manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • Pipe welding/pipe joints
  • Railroad track repair and construction
  • Construction and infrastructure
  • Shipbuilding
  • Underwater welding
  • Farm machinery manufacturing

The 4 Common Types of Welding

When it comes to welding, no two projects are alike. Different types of welding are used based on materials and desired outcome. There are over 30 different types of welding.

However, gas metal arc welding (GMAW), shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) are the four methods most commonly used.

Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)

Also known as MIG welding and wire welding, gas metal arc welding (GMAW) is one of the most common welding processes. In GMAW, an electric arc is formed between the metal and a wire electrode, applying heat to the metal pieces. This action melts and fuses the parts together to form a permanent bond.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

Also referred to as flux shielded arc welding, manual metal arc welding and stick welding, shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) can be used for both repair welding and production, and can be used in all welding positions on all ferrous metals.

In SMAW, the weld is formed with a flux-coated electrode, which is a metal stick or rod held in an electrode holder connected to a power source. Electricity passes through the electrode and touches the base metal. Meanwhile, the flux forms a gas that shields the electric arc between the electrode and the metal being welded.

Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

In flux-cored arc welding (FCAW), an electric arc unites a continuous filler metal electrode with the base material. As the welding process happens, the shield gas provided by the flux protects the weld pool from oxidation and other atmospheric elements.

After the FCAW weld is completed, there is “slag” that must be removed. Slag is a layer of byproduct, which the welder chips off to achieve the desired look. Welders need to account for time to remove this slag to make the metal look great after the weld.

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)

Also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) is a form of welding responsible for securing some of the world's most important equipment and machinery.

During the welding process, a non-consumable tungsten electrode is used. The weld puddle and tungsten are cooled and protected with an inert shielding gas such as helium or argon, just like in GMAW welding.

While GMAW uses a continuously fed wire that also acts as filler material, the tungsten electrode heats up the objects enough so they can form a bond. GTAW welding enables the joining of objects without the use of filler although a filler metal is commonly used.

GTAW can be used for direct metal-to-metal welds and results in neater, spatter-free welds generally free of defects.

What Does a Welder Do?

Welders fabricate and put together metal parts using various types of methods and machinery. Once bonded together, welders smooth and polish the metal surfaces.

Prior to the welding process, welders study blueprints and project specifications in order to calculate the dimensions of the parts to be joined. They inspect materials and structures, monitor the welding process, and maintain the machinery and equipment they use to perform the job.

Safety is an incredibly important part of this job, so welders must have an understanding of proper systems and procedures to maintain a safe work environment for themselves and those around them.

Welder Job Description

  • Read and interpret project blueprints, plans and other instructions
  • Create templates and work aids
  • Perform various types of welding based on the project at hand
  • Install light fixtures, vents, metal sheeting, fans, ductwork and more
  • Use precision measuring tools to inspect angles and grooves
  • Work with labor crews to complete installations efficiently
  • Repair equipment when necessary
  • Conduct tests to check weld quality

    Welding Job Types

    Welding serves industries worldwide, which creates a wide variety of jobs in the welding industry. Some common career paths pursued by welders include:

    Underwater Welder

    The need for welders both on land and underwater is great. Underwater welding is a specialized career path that requires specific training. These welders often receive instruction in diving and are required to pass a physical exam.

    They perform fitting and rigging, underwater cutting with heavy equipment, and non-destructive testing and inspection. These professionals often work in the naval, shipyard, oil and gas pipeline industries.

    Welding Machine Operator

    Machine operators operate and tend to welding machines that bond components together.

    Some job duties and tasks that come with this career include entering operating instructions into a computer to start welding machines, following production schedules and specifications, positioning and adjusting fixtures using measuring devices, observing welding machines throughout the welding process, and inspecting workpieces to ensure specifications are met.

    Motorsport Welder

    In motorsports, almost everything in the vehicles used is created through the process of welding. Therefore, welders play an important role in motorsport racing teams and pit crews.

    They travel with the team and are responsible for repairing and maintaining vehicles to ensure they are running smoothly. This is a great career path for someone who loves to travel and has a passion for racing.

    Military Support Welder

    Welders build, repair and maintain the metal weapons, facilities and vehicles used to support U.S. troops. Welders who choose to use their skills to support the military often work at military bases or travel overseas.

    Shipbuilding and Repair Welder

    Welders in the ship and boat-building industry build, inspect and repair ship welds on military vessels, research vessels and cargo ships. They often are on contract and travel from one shipyard to another in different ports across the world. Contracts for these types of welders can be anywhere from several months to several years.

    Onboard Ship Maintenance

    Many cruise lines and passenger ships have welders who live on the ship as members of the crew. These welders monitor the ship and perform any necessary repairs while out at sea. It’s a big responsibility but can be a rewarding and enjoyable career for those who love to travel and be on the water.

    Construction Welding Technician

    Welding plays a big role in the construction industry. Welders who choose to go the construction route often work in civil engineering projects that use metal I-beams to construct large commercial buildings and highway bridges. This career isn’t for the faint at heart since these welders can work hundreds of feet in the air!

    Manufacturing

    Manufacturing includes any industry that uses metals to create products from landscaping to agriculture to mining. This opens up a wide variety of opportunities to skilled welders with hands-on experience. Going into manufacturing can be a great way to pursue a career in an industry for which you’re passionate.

    Welding Inspector

    Welding inspectors ensure welding work is safe and meets the correct specifications. They ensure the jobs they inspect are free of any visual and structural defects, and check for cracks, undercuts and spatter.

    It’s their job to ensure the right method and equipment is being used for the job at hand. They inspect various welding jobs, arrange mechanical testing appointments, check welding specifications and create reports.

    Technical Sales Representative

    Technical sales representatives act as liaisons to manufacturers, distributors and customers. They stay in the know about new technologies that can increase reliability, efficiency and quality in the welding process, and communicate this information to their contacts.

    They also offer manufacturers technical support and guidance when it comes to the right application of welding technologies. Responsibilities include providing solutions and recommendations to clients, submitting bid packages, mentoring clients on welding machines and products, and troubleshooting welding-related issues.

    Welding Project Manager

    Welding project managers demonstrate leadership abilities. They oversee projects from planning to execution and are responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly throughout the process.

    They define projects, develop work plans and manage employees, as well as the budget. This type of career is great for someone with strong teamwork skills, the ability to lead and inspire, and a passion for this industry.

    Where Welders Work

    When considering any career, it’s important to research working conditions. For welders, there isn’t necessarily one clear cut path to follow for a career. There are many options. From working in an indoor manufacturing facility to the top of a large commercial building, welders find themselves working in all kinds of different settings. Some include:

    • Construction site
    • Farm
    • Automotive repair shop
    • Aboard a ship or boat
    • Shipyard
    • Manufacturing facility
    • Repair shop
    • Racetrack
    • Oil rig
    • Military installation
    • Welding shops
    • Factories using robotics
    • Aerospace plant

    How Much Do Welders Make, and What is the Job Outlook?

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers was $41,38026 in May 2018.

    When it comes to job outlook, employment of welders is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 202613, about as fast as the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The basic skills of welding are similar across industries, so, depending on the need, most welders can shift from one industry to another. Job prospects vary based on a welder’s skill level. Job prospects are expected to be good for welders trained in the latest technologies.

    How Do You Become a Welder?

    A high school diploma or GED along with technical training is often required to become a welder. While high school courses and on-the-job training can prepare you for this field, attending a specialized program such as the Welding Technology training program at Universal Technical Institute can prepare you to become a welder in less than a year.

    UTI’s 36-week Welding Technology program gives the hands-on training needed to prepare for a career in industries from automotive fabrication to aerospace.

    Students learn about the procedures and equipment required for gas metal arc welding (GMAW), shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW).

    They also learn how to weld in the flat, horizontal, vertical and overhead positions used for plate and sheet metal, and the fixed, rolling and overhead positions used for pipe.

    Developed in conjunction with Lincoln Electric, UTI’s Welding Technology program includes 12 hands-on courses to prepare you for a career.

    Learning from passionate instructors with real-world experience, you’ll train in facilities equipped with the same tools and technology used by welders in the field today.

    Welding Technology programs are offered at three Universal Technical Institute campuses: UTI Avondale (Arizona), UTI Rancho Cucamonga (California), and UTI Dallas/Ft. Worth (Texas).

    UTI’s Welding Technology programs start every six weeks, allowing you to start preparing for your career sooner.

    Want to Learn More About the Welding Technology Program?

    If you're interested in learning how you can register for the Welding Technology program Just click the link below or call (800) 834-7308 to speak with one of our friendly Admissions Representatives.