Should I Become a Brazer?
The brazing process is similar to soldering. Brazers join pieces of metal together by first heating the pieces and then placing a solder-like filler substance on the joint. Finally, they allow the heated metal to melt the filler and seal the joint. Brazers are not the same as welders, since brazers use heat and filler to bond joints together, whereas welders melt metals at high temperatures to fuse them together. However, it is not uncommon for brazers to also be trained as welders. Working with extremely hot materials can be hazardous, and brazers must use protective gear to ensure safety.
|Degree Level||Equivalent of high school diploma required; certificate, associate degree or apprenticeship recommended|
|Degree Field||Metalworking or metalworking technologies|
|Certification||Optional certifications are available|
|Key Skills||Able to follow directions, knowledgeable of metalworking safety protocols and comfortable working with others, able to use computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided drafting (CAD) software, familiar with brazing techniques and materials, able to use metalworking robotic devices and other metalworking equipment|
|Additional Requirements||Possess physical strength for moving equipment and metal, willing to wear safety gear at all times and comfortable doing repetitive tasks|
|Salary (2014)||$40,040 yearly (mean for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers)|
Sources: U.S. Department of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Complete an Apprenticeship or Vocational Program
Information from the BLS shows that many metal workers, such as brazers, join the metalworking industry by first entering apprenticeship programs. There are not many apprenticeship programs directly in brazing, but there are programs available that encompass multiple metalworking trades, including brazing and welding. Steamfitter apprenticeship programs, for example, train individuals to monitor and fix piping systems, such as those used for transporting water, sewage, chemicals and gases.
Each apprenticeship program provides training in the classroom as well as hands-on instruction with common career tasks. Steamfitter apprenticeship programs discuss topics such as blueprint reading, pipe layout, installation, metal fabrication, brazing, gluing, welding and bending. In most cases, it takes several years to complete a steamfitter apprenticeship program, and apprentices are normally paid for the work they provide.
Another option for prospective brazers is a vocational certificate or associate degree program, which typically can be completed in about two years or less. Most certificate and associate degree programs that include training in brazing also include instruction in welding, metal cutting, blueprint reading and computerized metalworking tools. Some degree programs include career specific training, such as brazing procedures in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry.
Step 2: Obtain Technical Training
According to the BLS, the metalworking industry has become more technologically advanced, and industry professionals might therefore need specialized training. Metal workers can learn about CAM tools, CAD software programs and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines. Apprenticeship programs may not provide training in these technical fields. Likewise, not all certificate or associate degree programs cover technical training.
There are CAM/CAD/CNC certificate programs available, and many can be completed in 18 months or less. Coursework topics may include CAM/CAD/CNC modeling, programming and real-world applications. These certificate programs also include several mathematics courses, since professionals need a mathematical understanding to utilize this level of technology.
Step 3: Become Certified
Certification is not required to start a career as a brazer; however, the BLS notes that it's preferred by a growing number of employers. Certification in brazing is limited, but there are metalworking certification programs in welding, some of which require professionals to prove they can both weld and braze metals. For example, the American Welding Society (AWS) offers the Certified Welder Program. To be eligible for the program, individuals must prove they have had ample training and experience with welding, brazing and other metalworking tasks.
- Maintain professional certification. Organizations that provide certification programs usually have certification renewal or certification maintenance requirements. For instance, every six months, the AWS requires certified welders to show proof of welding employment. Professionals also have to pay fees to renew certifications with the AWS.