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Career Information and Opportunities

Occupational Summary

Welders plan how to do a welding project by following blueprints, specification sheets, or work orders. They select and gather the necessary materials and lay them out. Then they begin to weld the parts together. Welders control the process by setting up the equipment and holding a welding gun (electric arc) or torch (gas), and concentrating the heat against the surfaces to be joined. A bond is made as material from a metal rod or wire melts to join and fill in the weld. Setting up the welding equipment involves hooking up cables and operating a power generator or power source, or hooking hoses to pressurized gas bottles. After they have finished, Welders inspect the welds to make sure they meet certain standards. Workers may weld on metal that is flat, horizontal, vertical, or overhead.

Welders often make repairs on metal parts, equipment or structures. They study the damaged area and the type of metal used, and determine the best way to fix it.

Specialized welding techniques are becoming more common because of quality control demands in manufacturing. Semiconductor and other specialized industries must have piping with welds that to do not contaminate gases and fluids used in the manufacturing process.

Some workers do welding on a production line. In most cases, they use welding equipment that has already been set up by other workers. Some production line workers may set up and run automated or robotic welding machines. They watch the machines closely to make sure the welds are done correctly.

Related Occupations

Placement in the industry may include construction companies, machine shops, manufacturing firms, marine welding, metal art sculpture or products, railroads, repair shops, shipyards, steel companies, trucking or transportation companies, institutions or corporations, or welding firms. With more training, unskilled, entry-level welders can advance to skilled positions and take on more commplex tasks. Some may become supervisors, inspectors, or technicians. A small number of welders open their own welding and repair businesses.

Aluminum Welders work specifically with aluminum which takes special techniques, equipment and skills. Most workers are certified.

Welding Inspectors examine work and reject any that show below standard processes. They earn slightly more than Welders.

Welding Technicians test and analyze samples of work and write reports. They supervise, control machines and test equipment. They earn slightly more than Welding Inspectors.

Some Welders are also Commercial Divers. Other occupations include apprentice welder or assembler, arc or combination welder, experimental welder, gas welder, pipe fitter, ironworker, ship repair, welder fitter, structural metal or boilermaker welder.

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Suggested Links

Washington Association of Building Officials

American Welding Society

Lincoln Welding Equipment

Divers Institute
Divers Institute of Technology

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Miller Welding Resources