So you want to be a Welder? You realize you work with liquid fire and hot metal all day, with a helmet that makes you look like a killer cyborg from the future, right? Oh, that’s why you want to be a welder in the first place? Well, okay then.
All kidding aside, welding is hard, dangerous work. You need to be very well-trained, conscientious, reliable, and responsible, unless you want to end up severely injured, disabled, or out of work because you hurt someone else. It all starts with the training.
You have a couple of options here. You can find an employer that offers on-the-job training or you can enroll in a technical/vocational school or community college. Some employers will favor a formal education completed before you apply, so make sure you find out the qualifications before starting the job hunt. The Armed Forces also offer on-the-job training, so keep that in mind as an alternative.
If you go the school route, you will be looking at coursework in the following:
- Mechanical drawing
- Computer tech classes (some modern welding machines are fully computerized)
- Shop mechanics
- Blueprint reading
After you are awarded an associate degree or a diploma you will have the opportunity to earn your welding certifications. Upon passing you will officially be a Certified Welding Fabricator. The most basic certification is offered through the American Welding Society (AWS). Different rank certifications are also offered the further you get into the field. Specialties such as Certified Welding Inspector or Certified Robotic Arc Welding are also offered through AWS.
You will be joining metal to metal, filing in holes, cutting sheets of metal and of course working with very hot material; after all how do you think one can manipulate metal! Lots of sparks here! You will have to wear heavy duty safety equipment – heat resistant gloves, eye protection, safety shoes. Let’s face it, you’re gonna look like a freak. That’s half the appeal right?
Welders, cutters, brazers and solderers often work outside, and must be prepared for unpleasant weather. They may have to lift heavy machinery or other objects and occasionally will have to work high off the ground. (Fear of heights? You may want to skip this profession!)
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers was about $36k in May of 2012. Of course wages vary depending on level of experience, soil set, and size of company. The potential becomes much higher if you work for a large manufacturing company.
The BLS projects that this field will grow 6% between 2012 to 2022. This is slower than the average for all occupations. As of 2012 there are approximately 357k Welders, Cutters, Solders, and brazers employed in the United States. The best way to set your self apart in this field is to up your skill set. Stay up-to-date in your training as industries like this will change often. Also those willing to travel or relocate may have the most success.