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Welder Career Guide

A welder is a skilled tradesman. Their job it is to fuse materials, such as aluminium, stainless steel and brass, together. To become a welder, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training. To further advance their skills and improve their job prospect, welders may take additional courses over their career.

Welding is an essential part of everyday life. From cars to high rise office buildings, airplanes to rockets, pipelines to highways, none of it would be possible without welding

David McQuaid

Welder Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Welder Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Welder field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33693 Welder Male 38 $43,000 Silverhill, AL 01/01/2010
33595 Nde Technician Female 34 $70,000 Sorrento, LA 01/01/2010
32628 Welder/Painter/Fabicator Male 27 $23,000 Anderson, SC 01/01/2010

Overview

What a welder actually does

A welder is a skilled tradesman whose job it is to fuse materials, such as aluminium, stainless steel and brass, together. Welders may work in auto-body shops, the construction industry, factories, or a variety of other industries. Regardless of where they work, or who they work for, their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Reading blueprints and drawings to plan layout and procedures
  • Determining the appropriate welding equipment or method based on requirements
  • Operating angle grinders to prepare the parts that must be welded
  • Setting up and aligning components that need to be welded together
  • Welding components together using the correct technique
  • Repairing machinery using welding techniques
  • Testing and inspecting welded surfaces and structures to discover flaws or issues
  • Maintaining all equipment in a perfect condition

Why they are needed

Welding is absolutely necessary to a variety of products and infrastructures. From cars to high rise offices, airplanes to rockets, pipelines to highways, the unique skills of a welder is essential to create these. They play a huge role in society by helping to build the things that are essential to our everyday life.

Pros and cons of a career as a welder:

Pros:

    • There is a variety of opportunities within the industry. For example, welders can become self-employed, work in different sized organizations or progress to more senior and specialist roles with more responsibilities
    • Welders who work hard and are skilled can make a very good income
    • There are also a variety of different career paths available (formal education, on the job training and apprenticeships)

Cons:

  • Welders can work long hours, especially to meet a deadline or when bad weather conditions are predicted
  • Welders may have to work in all kinds of weather conditions, such as the freezing cold, heavy rain, extreme heat or high winds
  • The process of welding materials typically involves using high heat to cause materials to melt together, which puts welders at risk of burn injuries.
  • Welders might get ‘arc eye’, which is when the cornea becomes inflamed as a result of repetitive ultraviolet light exposure.

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of welders is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This employment growth is expected as the nation’s aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings.

The job prospects are best for those welders who are trained in the latest technologies. Those who do not keep on top of the latest industry trends may face strong competition for jobs.

Career paths

The most common career path to becoming a welder is to achieve a high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training.

Most welders will achieve their high school diploma from technical education courses or postsecondary institutions, such as vocational–technical institutes, community colleges, and private welding schools. In addition, various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces operate welding schools.

To further advance their skills and improve their job prospect, welders should consider taking courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, physics, chemistry, and metallurgy. An understanding of electricity is also helpful, and knowledge of computers is gaining importance as welders are becoming more responsible for programming robots and other computer-controlled machines.

Although numerous employers are willing to hire inexperienced entry-level workers and train them on the job, many prefer to hire workers who have been through training or credentialing programs. Even entry-level workers with formal technical training still receive several months of on-the-job training.

Courses leading to certification are offered at many welding schools. For example, the American Welding Society offers the Certified Welder designation. Some welding positions require certification in specific skills, such as Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Robotic Arc Welding.

Example Job Titles for Welder

Below is a list of common job titles in the Welder field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers was $42,490 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,240. The top paying industries were speciality trade contractors, where the median annual salary is $46,630, repair and maintenance ($42,100) and manufacturing ($40,990).

It is important to not that the median income for welders will vary with their experience and skill level, the industry, and the size of the company they work for.

Autonomy and Flexibility

The level of autonomy and flexibility for a welder will vary depending on the amount of experience they have and the size of the company they work for. For instance, a welder with 10 years experience will have more control over their decisions than an apprentice. Similarly, a self-employed/contractor welder is likely to have more flexibility than those who work for a large company. However, the downside to this is that they will be responsible for forming and managing relationships with builders and suppliers to ensure materials are available at affordable prices and that ongoing work is available.

Locations and commute

In order to have the best job prospects, welders should be willing to relocate. According to Zippia, the best states to be a welder in 2020, based on annual salary and number of job opportunities, are:

  1. Wyoming, where the average annual salary is $36,360
  2. New Hampshire, where the average annual salary is $41,918
  3. Nevada, where the average annual salary is $49,260
  4. Arizona, where the average annual salary is $40,043
  5. Rhode Island, where the average annual salary is $42,871

The worst states were Washington, Arkansas, Idaho, South Carolina and Georgia.

Work environment

The largest employer of welders is manufacturing, which employs 63% of all welders in the United States. Speciality trade contractors make up 6%, self-employed workers make up 5% and repair and maintenance welders make up 4%.

Welders may work outdoors in all types of weather conditions and on scaffolds or platforms. They may also work indoors in confined areas. Welders are often exposed to hazards such as sparks, extreme heat and intense light. They will also have to lift heavy objects and work in awkward positions such as bending down or reaching overhead. Due to this, there is a risk of injury on the job. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set out a number of guidelines and policies to keep welders safe (e.g., wearing protective gear and making sure the environment is well ventilated).

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Welder careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Welder career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Welder.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

There has been no scientific exploration into exactly what personality types will make a successful welder. However, the Myers Briggs personality type of ISTP, or otherwise known as ‘the craftsperson’, is likely to be a successful welder. This is because these types are able to tackle problems in their immediate environment, with an innate mechanical ability and they enjoy building and fixing objects. ISTPs are typically very attentive to detail, independent, adaptable and self-directed, which are key skills for welder.

Accomplishment and mastery

As welders can learn advanced skills in a relatively short space of time during technical and on the job training, there is high skill accomplishment and mastery. After gaining experience in the occupation, welders may then have the opportunity to advance to become a supervisor, job superintendent, or estimator or to start their own business. This increases the amount of accomplishment and mastery.

Meaning and contribution

As welders have a unique set of skills that helps them to build many of the things that are essential for everyday life (cars, offices, homes, roads, bridges), there is a lot of meaning and contribution in their work.

Life fit

Most welders work full time, and overtime is common. Many manufacturing firms have two or three 8- to 12-hour shifts each day, allowing the firm to continue production around the clock if needed. As a result, welders may work evenings and weekends.

Who will thrive in this career?

One of the most important things a welder can be is physically fit and strong. A key part of their work requires them to work in confined spaces, stand for long periods of time or lift heavy materials. In order to be able to do this, welders must show excellent stamina and health. Similarly, welders must be brave, as they often work with hazards.

Those who can work well as part of a team and communicate will with others are likely to thrive as welders, as they will often need to communicate with other construction workers and clients. Finally, the ability to pay attention to detail and work well under pressure will help you to thrive as a welder. This is because welders will need to follow blueprints and work to deadlines. As they are working with many hazardous materials, attention to detail is essential to avoid injury.

Who will struggle in this career?

Similarly to what is mentioned above, you are are likely to struggle with working as a welder if you are physically unfit or don’t have the nerve to work in confined, and potentially hazardous conditions. If you prefer to work alone or do less practical/technical work, then you may struggle as a welder due to the team environment and the hands-on nature of the work.

Requirements

Skills and talents

Aspiring welders will learn all the skills they need through formal and on the job training. However, it is also important to have skills such as:

  • Physical fitness and stamina, as welders will spend a lot of their working day lifting heavy materials, standing and/and kneeling in confined spaces
  • Mathematical skills, because welders will need to follow blueprints and ensure that they measure and order the correct amount of materials
  • Communication skills are key as welders need to be able to communicate with clients and other construction workers,
  • Dexterity, as welders need to be able to carefully and accurately weld materials together
  • Detail orientation, as materials need to be welded together to the exact millimetre
  • Critical thinking, as welders must be able to problem-solve when issues arise in a project (for example, if the wrong materials are ordered or are cut to the wrong size)

Education

Most welders will need a high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training. A high school diploma can be achieved from a technical education courses or postsecondary institutions, such as vocational–technical institutes, community colleges, and private welding schools. In addition, various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces operate welding schools.

To further advance their skills and improve their job prospect, welders should consider taking courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, physics, chemistry, and metallurgy. An understanding of electricity is also helpful, and knowledge of computers is gaining importance as welders are becoming more responsible for programming robots and other computer-controlled machines.

Certifications

Although numerous employers are willing to hire inexperienced entry-level workers and train them on the job, many prefer to hire workers who have been through training or credentialing programs. Even entry-level workers with formal technical training still receive several months of on-the-job training. Courses leading to certification are offered at many welding schools. For example, the American Welding Society offers the Certified Welder designation. Some welding positions require certification in specific skills, such as Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Robotic Arc Welding.

How to Become

Summary

A welder is a skilled tradesman whose job it is to fuse materials, such as aluminium, stainless steel and brass, together. Welders may work in auto-body shops, the construction industry, factories, or a variety of other industries. Over the next few years, there is expected to be many exciting job opportunities within the industry

Immediate action

Although not a necessity, welders may have better employment opportunities if they have experience in the construction industry. Based on this, if you want to become a welder, we recommend looking for some local construction labor/worker work.

Education and learning

Most welders will need a high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training. To further advance their skills and improve their job prospect, welders may take additional courses over their career.

Skill development

Welders will learn all their skills through their formal, technical and practical training. They will also continue to develop their skills throughout their career, which allows them to progress to more advanced positions (e.g., management, contractor).

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Welder careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33693 Welder Male 38 $43,000 Silverhill, AL 01/01/2010
33595 Nde Technician Female 34 $70,000 Sorrento, LA 01/01/2010
32628 Welder/Painter/Fabicator Male 27 $23,000 Anderson, SC 01/01/2010

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