Currently there are over 30,000 welding positions available on careerbuilder.com. The United States Department of Labor states, “Job prospects should be good for skilled welders because employers are reporting difficulty finding enough qualified people.” Over 400,000 people are currently employed as welders in the US.
When choosing a career there is much to consider. You may wonder if increased automation will eliminate welding as a career. You want to know about the job outlook, working environment, wages, and opportunities for advancement.
The outlook for welders in manufacturing (where 2/3rds of welders are employed) is projected to experience little change in the next decade. Because welders are versatile and so important to the process, their future is fairly secure. Basic welding skills transfer across industries and welders can easily move from one industry to another.
Job prospects vary with skill level. Welders trained in the latest technologies will have greater chances of finding work as will welding school graduates.
Training and Advancement
Training may vary from a few weeks to several years. The average welder starts out learning how to weld in small shops. He (or she, but we’ll use the masculine form) uses older equipment and is taught by a rushed welder who would rather do it himself than train you his time-tested secrets. This form of training may not be as thorough or universally applicable than formal education by an effective teacher.
A welder with the right training can enjoy a career with decent pay and benefits. The right raining may come in the form of community college, welding school, technical college, or vocational education center. Some welders were trained during their time in the military. Opportunities to experience different types of welding (processes, equipment, and applications), will help you to better compete in today’s job market.
Helpful courses include blueprint reading, math, drawing, physics, chemistry, metallurgy. Electrical and computer knowledge is beneficial as well. General and specific certifications are available. Some employers are willing to pay training cost for employees.
Nature of the Work
Welding is the process of using heat to permanently join metal parts. Welding is necessary in shipbuilding, car manufacturing and repair, aerospace, construction, power plants, and refineries. The industries are as varied as the application. There are over 100 processes currently in use. Arc welding is the most common and simplest form.
Skilled welders work from drawings, blueprints, templates, and specs. They call on skills and knowledge to determine how to best join parts based on metal type and position of weld.
Welders may work indoors or out. Some jobs may be in confined spaces. Outdoor welders may find themselves on scaffolding high abouve the ground. They may need to lift heavy objects and be good at balancing, bending, stooping, or standing. Some work may be done overhead. Most welders work full-time, 40 hours a week.
Welders are exposed to risk from hot materials and intense light (from the arc). Safety equipment includes safety shoes, goggles, masks with protective lenses, gloves, and other devices designed to prevent burns and eye injury. There is a risk from fumes. Welders must work in ventilated areas to reduce risk of inhaling gases and particulates.
Some welders may make $10 an hour while others make $100. If you’re willing to keep up with the latest advancements and possibly relocate or switch industries there is a lot of potential for welding as a career.