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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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
GTAW can be used for direct metal-to-metal welds and results in neater, spatter-free welds generally free of defects.
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.
Welding serves industries worldwide, which creates a wide variety of jobs in the welding industry. Some common career paths pursued by welders include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers was $44,190 in May 2020.26 This means half of welders earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area.
When it comes to job outlook, there is a projected average number of annual job openings of 43,40042 for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers, according to the BLS.
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.
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 campuses in Avondale, Arizona;
Long Beach and Rancho Cucamonga, California; Lisle, Illinois;
Bloomfield, New Jersey; and Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, Texas.
The program is scheduled to begin in early 2022 in Mooresville, North Carolina; and Austin, Texas.
UTI’s Welding Technology programs start every six weeks, allowing you to start preparing for your career sooner.
If you’re interested in learning how you can register for the Welding Technology program, click the link below, or call (800) 834-7308 to speak with one of our friendly Admissions Representatives.
1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
26) Estimated annual median salary for Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. Entry-level salaries may be lower. UTI programs prepare graduates for careers in industries using the provided training, primarily as welding technicians. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as a technician, such as certified inspector and quality control. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (51-4121) is $34,399 to $48,009 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2019 data, viewed June 2, 2021, https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageSpecificOccupations#). North Carolina salary information: The U.S. Department of Labor estimate of hourly earnings of the middle 50% for skilled welders in North Carolina, published May 2021, is $20.28. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $16.97 and $14.24, respectively. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020. Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, viewed June 2, 2021.)
42) For Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an annual average of 43,400 job openings between 2019 and 2029. Job openings include openings due to net employment changes and net replacements. See Table 1.10 Occupational separations and openings, projected 2019–29, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, viewed June 3, 2021. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
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