Welding Career Options, Job Duties and Salary Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a welder. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about career options, job duties and professional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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A welder takes various metal components and uses intense heat to fuse them together to form a final product. Thus, they must have the strength and skills to manage welding equipment. After completing a postsecondary training program they can be employed in numerous industries, including construction, steel, aerospace and motor vehicles, each of which may depend on their level of expertise.

Essential Information

Welders operate and maintain the machines that fabricate and repair metal structures, equipment and machinery. Welders are qualified for positions in a variety of fields based on their skill level and experience, including shipbuilding, automotive, construction and manufacturing industries. Many welders complete a postsecondary training program; they may also participate in on-the-job training. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who hold voluntary professional Certified Welder or Certified Welding Fabricator credentials.

Required Education Postsecondary training
Certification Voluntary professional certification through the American Welding Society sometimes preferred
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $38,150 for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options in Welding

Welding is the application of heat to permanently join metal parts to repair and fabricate metal structures, machinery and equipment. Welding positions are classified depending on the training and types of welding machines that a welder can use. Skilled welders have experience using multiple welding machines including the arc welder, TIG (tungsten inert gas) welder and MIG (metal inert gas) welder. Skilled welders are found in automotive, construction and aerospace industries.

Unskilled welders typically do repetitive work which requires little or no special skill, such as work on assembly lines. Unskilled welding positions can be found in shipbuilding, manufacturing and steel industries. Due to the nature of the work and the industries where welding is employed, a welding career can be hazardous.

The American Welding Society (AWS) provides a number of career resources for all types of welders. Welders can find job opportunities, internship programs and continuing education resources through the AWS. The AWS also offers voluntary professional certification programs.

Job Duties

Welders fabricate and assemble metal structures and equipment through the use of welders, cutters, shapers and measuring tools. Welders produce metal products according to customer or employer specifications. They use multiple welding machines to repair and maintain metal equipment and structures of various sizes. Welders read and interpret diagrams, sketches and blueprints to determine operations, required materials and timeframes for projects.

Welders set up, operate and maintain welding equipment. They understand and implement personal and company safety measures by wearing specialized goggles, helmets and gloves. Communication skills are essential to work with team members and converse with customers and clients.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected employment opportunities for welders to have a slower than average increase of 4% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Opportunities are expected to be better for welders who've been trained to work with advanced equipment due to the difficulty employers are facing finding qualified workers.

Welders willing to relocate to different states may find more job opportunities. Salary ranges for welders vary by welding skills, industry experience and employer; the median annual salary was $38,150 as of May 2015, per the BLS.

To be a welder, you need experience, a sharp eye for detail and a strict adherence to safety, as their work can be quite complicated and hazardous. Even though the job growth for welders is slow, there are still opportunities available for skilled workers, with an expected salary of around 38,150.

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