Welding is one of the oldest professions, dating back to the Iron and Bronze Ages.
It was very simple welding but still applied the concept of solidifying two pieces of metal together with heat.
More modern types of welding appeared in the 19th century, and it is a skill that is needed in many applications today.
What are the most common welding jobs, and how can you get one?
Common welding jobs include pipefitters, auto welders, sheet metal workers, fabrication and manufacturing welders, and many more. With proper training, many job opportunities await.
Welding is required in many industries today.
Welders are continually sought after for a variety of jobs. If you are interested in welding, there are many applications and positions to apply your skills.
Welding as a profession will continue to be needed, and it is even suggested that the need for welding will grow with increased technological advances.
The Most Common Welding Jobs
The most common welding jobs depend on the size of a project, the type of welding, and the industry in which the welding is used.
Because so many things in our society require the strong cohesion of metal – cars, buildings, bridges, piping, and more -welders are needed in many forms.
Common welding jobs:
- Auto welders
- Sheet metal workers
- Fabrication and manufacturing welders
Piping is incredibly important to bring water, chemicals, air, gas, steam, and many materials to all sorts of locations.
Our society is dependent on piping to operate effectively. Pipefitters assemble, install, fabricate, repair, and maintain pipes.
Pipefitters usually work in indoor settings and are in constant demand as pipes are needing to be built and maintained consistently.
This means that there is consistent work in this field. Pipefitters also earn more than many other welding jobs due to demand.
With the continued production of oil and gas, pipefitting is a growing industry that will only continue to rise over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Unless we eliminate the use of vehicles and cars, there will always be a need for automotive welding.
Welding car parts together is very important in constructing cars and having these skills will open many employment opportunities.
This job is particularly concentrated in auto repair. Auto body shops are consistently busy because car accidents are an unfortunate but common occurrence in our lives.
Welding is often required to fix these damages and return cars to their original condition.
Sheet Metal Workers
Sheet metal has applications across a number of industries.
Sheet metal workers are hired to design, construct, and fabricate sheet metal for a variety of reasons.
Most commonly, sheet metal workers are hired for heating, cooling, and ventilation work or repairing drainage and roofing projects.
Any building with air ducts will require sheet metal workers to forge the materials together as well as maintain them.
Anything that requires sheets of metal to be used will require a sheet metal worker.
Being a sheet metal worker requires skilled welding abilities as well as an ability to read and construct blueprints for various jobs.
Fabrication and Manufacturing Welders
A career in fabrication and manufacturing is a very broad but common career path for many welders.
Often, they are working on welding projects to create metal components for larger manufacturing processes or products.
Fabrication is the making of an item whereas welding refers to the skills used to make the product. This can make for cool projects where certain shapes and structures are created.
With a more generalized field such as this, welders are open to a greater variety of projects and job opportunities.
This also means that their welding techniques and skills will be comprehensive and expensive.
A boilermaker is a welder that can fabricate using plates and tubes, specifically.
They often install, fabricate, and repair large vessels that contain liquids and gases. These vats are used in many applications, like buildings, factories, and ships.
They serve the purpose of providing heat or storage to a variety of industries. This is just another avenue that welders can specialize in.
Other Welding Jobs
In addition to these common welding jobs, there are also other positions a welder can hold.
These positions require welding skills and technical knowledge and allow for more variety in career fields.
Some of these include:
- Solderers and brazers: Like welding jobs, but these professions use alloys as metal fillers for the fusion of metal materials
- Cutters: This profession involves cutting metal and materials to specific specifications to be welded. They use heat to make these cuts.
- Welding machine operator: Instead of welding by hand, these welders will use machines. This is a high demand job but is mostly concentrated in large manufacturing companies.
- Welding inspectors: This field requires a lot of welding knowledge and the ability to inspect others’ welding work. This must be done to ensure high-quality work before production can continue. This job does not require current welding but requires a significant amount of experience to ensure a job is being done correctly.
The Job Duties Of a Welder
The duties of a welder will vary based on the specific industry or role they assume, but welders do have specific roles and duties that they all adhere to.
- Proper welding technique
- Ability to read and comprehend maps and plans
- Good communication skills to complete jobs
- Attention to safety and regulation
All welders should be able to weld small and large pieces of a variety of metal materials.
Knowing the different techniques of welding is key to understanding and properly completing projects.
Welders should know how to read blueprints, instructions, and take measurements for said welding plans. Welders should also be able to repair and maintain welding projects.
They should be able to identify poorly done work and fix it. They should also be familiar with using machinery and specialized tools related to welding processes.
How To Get a Welding Job
There are many steps you can take to getting a welding job.
The best way to get one is through strong skill sets and versatility. Having a good foundation in welding and experience in a variety of fields will make you a more appealing candidate.
Developing a wide range of skills will be impressive to employers.
Do not become too comfortable with one type of welding as this will only stunt your ability to learn more and limit potential job offerings.
To find a welding job, there are many avenues you can take in your search:
- Join a welding association
- Accept apprenticeships
- Search on job boards
- Cold call employers
Welding associations are a great way to find jobs since they serve as strong networks.
Other welders will have knowledge of potential job opportunities with companies as well as work they need to contract out themselves.
Having other welders and resources will be very helpful in finding out where to look for jobs and which jobs are worth looking into.
Beyond a job search, welding associations allow for learning opportunities, training, and events to engage in with people in your industry.
As a new welder, getting an apprenticeship under an experienced welder is a great way to build your skills and hopefully turn them into a full-time job.
Apprenticeships may have low pay, but they can lead to greater opportunities.
Your boss will not only serve as a teacher but will be able to recommend you for positions or hire you themselves.
Search on Job Boards and Cold Call Employers
Like searching for a job in any industry, it may be helpful to look at online job postings for welding work.
Simply sending an application may not be enough, so follow up with a phone call to express your interest.
Because so many people are likely seeing the same posting, you’ll want to set yourself apart.
If the contact information is available, try contacting them to talk over the phone or in person. Showing initiative will leave a great first impression.
Try to set up an interview or a meeting to discuss employment opportunities. Many times, companies will ask for a welding test to ensure you are proficient.
Offer to take a welding test when you speak to them to show you are eager to work.
Do You Need a Welding Certification To Work?
Most employers do require certification for you to work on a welding job.
Certification is important to make sure you can successfully complete a job and know the proper safety measures to take.
It depends on the employer whether certification is required. However, companies that require certification are looking for qualified candidates that can safely and efficiently complete a job.
Additionally, companies with certified workers tend to be safer and better-paying jobs. It is worth your while to seek out companies that require certification.
Most employers look for 5 things when hiring welders:
- High school diploma / GED
- Technical and on the job training
- Certification from a school or job site
- Understanding of metalworking techniques and tools
- Passing a welding test to show your skill
While not all employers will require all these things, many will.
The key components are certification and proper training and experience. Certification can be acquired through technical school and training or by passing a test.
The AWS Certified Welder Program is a performance-based test for which you need no prior certifications or courses.
If you pass the test, you are a certified welder, regardless of previous education and practice.
Those who pass the test have most likely had some form of training or experience as the tasks you are tested on are not the easiest.
Welding certifications also need to be renewed regularly to ensure skills are up to date, especially as technology continues to progress.
Certification renewals range from six months to three years. Employers will check to make sure this certification is up to date before hiring.
The certification costs between $150 to $300. This does not include additional costs associated with training and schooling.
How Much Money Can You Make As a Welder?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a welder is $39,465 per year in the United States.
It is important to note that this number will fluctuate based on the location in which you work. Standards of living and expenses in each state will impact salaries.
The better skill set and specialization you have can lead to a higher salary. Certification and work experience will also impact your ability to make additional money.
AWS Certified Welders earn closer to $45,000 per year given their education and experience.
On the highest end, welders can make up to $150,000-$200,000 for very specialized welding jobs.
Some specialized high paying jobs include:
- Underwater welding
- Commercial piping welding
- Military support welding
- Nuclear power plant welding
These jobs require significant welding experience and are very, very specific. Because not many welders possess these skills, they are exclusive positions that are paid accordingly.
More common welding jobs will waiver in the $30,000 – $50,000 range. Entry-level welders will make around $25,000 per year.
Most welding jobs are in structural and architectural welding, with stick welding being the popular technique.
Welding jobs can be found all over the United States but are more heavily concentrated on the coasts. This also creates opportunities for welding related to shipbuilding.
If you are interested in going into welding and want to know what skills will pay more, consider gaining training and experience in:
- Robotic welding
- Pipe welding
- Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
- Fluxed core arc welding (FCAW)
- Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding
- Arc welding
- Aluminum welding
Many welders do not make welding a lifelong career. Many go into management and inspection for higher pay or the desire for a leadership position.
These can be viable options that require the same knowledge and experience, just with different applications.
Is Welding a Growing Profession?
Welding will always be a needed profession as almost all aspects of industrialization and daily life require welding skills.
Ships, bridges, piping, cars, and many other applications are necessary for society to function.
It is estimated that welding will continue to grow by 6% as a profession by 2026. This is about average compared to the growth of other industries.
Two specific welding industries are expected to see massive growth. They are robotic welding and arc welding.
Robotic welding is expected to grow rapidly, which may cut the need for general welding jobs.
However, there are many jobs that a robot cannot perform.
Still, more specialized welding jobs will always be needed.
With the continued retirement of welding professionals and the growth of welding needs, there will always be a need for more qualified welders.
Arc welding is the fastest growing welding industry.
Gas metal arc welding will continue to grow at the highest rate.
The welding industries that can involve automation will grow the most as efficiency and productivity will be the highest.
The growth of the welding industry may require less manual welding jobs but will focus more on automation and skilled positions for the work that a robot cannot complete.
The industry of welding is growing; therefore, the profession will as well. It will just require more education and skill to get these jobs.
There will always be welding work; it will just be more specialized!
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