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A Day in the Life of a Welder: Duties, Salary & More

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A Day in the Life of a Welder: Duties, Salary & More

Welding is part engineering, part working with your hands and a whole lot of creativity and precision all rolled into one.

Welders take strong metal materials, melt them down, then create brand-new structures and parts with them for things people worldwide depend on, from buildings to airplanes. Welders are responsible for making sure bridges can support cars, rockets can carry astronauts, cars don’t fall apart and collapse, and ships ride smoothly on ocean waves.

Welders work in all types of industries and environments, from government defense and construction to manufacturing. If you enjoy hands-on work and love to build things, a career in welding could be for you.

You can use this guide to learn the answer to, “What is welding?” — plus get information on a welder job description, welder salary and job outlook, and how to become a welder.

What Is Welding?

Welding is the act of fusing metal parts together through heat application. Welders can complete tasks like:

  • Fabricating vehicles, including cars, ships and space vehicles
  • Repairing tools, water tanks and piping
  • Completing construction tasks
  • Manufacturing farm machinery

Welding is an integral part of the world’s biggest industries. Wherever heavy-duty metal materials are used, welding can be found.

There are various types of welding. They include:

  • Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW): Flux-cored arc welding is a type of welding process in which a continuous hollow wire electrode is fed through the welding gun.
  • Gas metal arc welding (GMAW): Also known as wire welding or metal inert gas (MIG) welding, gas metal arc welding is one of the most common welding processes, using an electric arc to apply heat to metal pieces.
  • Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW): Gas tungsten arc welding, or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to heat up objects so they can bond.
  • Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW): Shielded metal arc welding is also known as stick welding, flux shielded arc welding or manual metal arc welding. It’s a manual arc welding process that uses a flux-coated electrode to form the weld.

These different welding processes are used for different types of applications. For example, FCAW is often used outdoors because it doesn’t require an external shielding gas. Depending on the type of material being produced and the environment it’s produced in, a welder will have to decide the most efficient and effective process to use.

Welder Job Description

A day in the life of a welder can be exciting and challenging because there are always new projects and related solutions. Generally, welders:

  • Join and cut metal parts
  • Fill seams, indentations and holes in metal products
  • Study sketches, specifications and blueprints
  • Calculate dimensions of parts to be welded
  • Inspect materials and structures for welding
  • Use power supplies and torches
  • Maintain welding equipment and machinery

The work of welders is physical — and hot. Welders must constantly monitor their work to ensure clean welds and avoid overheating. They must employ safety procedures at all times and be detail-oriented to complete high-quality work.

Welders have career mobility, since welding is used in an array of industries. Welding can be found in sectors focused on pharmaceuticals, theme parks, railroads, gas pipelines, motor sports, oil rigs and robotics.

Some welders also aspire to move into management and lead other welders. Experienced welders who have leadership qualities like communication, empathy, vision and direction can move up the welding ranks to achieve higher positions.

There are also welders who are entrepreneurial and create their own welding businesses. Whatever the industry and wherever you want to take your welding career, there are options.

How to Become a Welder

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most employers prefer to hire welders who have been through training or credentialing programs. One such program is the Welding Technology program offered by Universal Technical Institute (UTI) at locations around the country.1

The BLS reports it’s helpful for welders to take courses in blueprint reading, chemistry, mechanical drawing, metallurgy, physics and shop mathematics. It’s also recommended that welders understand electricity and computers, since welding operators are becoming increasingly responsible for programming robots and computer-controlled machines.

During the 36-week welding program at UTI, students learn GMAW, SMAW, FCAW and GTAW welding techniques. Courses cover welding safety, welding principles, engineering and fabrication, pipe welding, and welding applications. Students learn how to weld in positions including overhead, horizontal and vertical, and how to work with sheet and plate metal.

UTI’s Welding program is available at campuses in Avondale, Arizona; Long Beach, California; Rancho Cucamonga, California; Lisle, Illinois; Bloomfield, New Jersey; Austin, Texas (campus coming early 2022); Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; and Houston, Texas. Welding school prepares students to test for certifications, which some employers may also require. The American Welding Society’s Certified Welder program offers certification.

Welder Salary & Job Outlook

Welders are employed throughout the country, with the BLS reporting the highest number of welding jobs being in Texas, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana — states with a significant manufacturing presence.

The median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in May 2020 was $44,190, according to the BLS.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.

Get Welding Training at UTI

If building some of the world’s most important machines, vehicles and infrastructure sounds like an appealing job to you, start welding training at UTI to learn the skills needed to succeed. Classes start every six weeks.

Learn about the UTI Welding Technology program and request information online to see if welding school is right for you.

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