While the majority of people don’t pay an ounce of attention to how large metal objects such as equipment, vehicles, buildings, railings, amusement park rides and other steel structures are created, the truth is that most of them are fabricated and then sometimes repaired down the line by highly-skilled welders. Picture the bright flash coming from your welding torch as you work on your future employer’s high-value product.
Got you curious about a career as a welder?
Types of welding:
Types of welding jobs:
Frequently, a welder will acquire basic skills on the job or in a trade school (see career paths below) and then acquire greater expertise within a specific welding type based on his or her employer. As an example, some companies may work with heavy steel while others work with thin sheets of aluminum.
There are several possible paths to become a Welder.
High School Diploma or GED: Often times, it depends on the position and the amount of training that an employer is willing to provide. For some entry-level positions a high school diploma may be all that is necessary.
Trade School: For other positions, you may need to invest your time in a preparatory course, usually available from local colleges or technical/vocational institutes. Within these programs, you’ll not only learn specific welding technologies such as MIG, TIG, arc, and gas welding, but also the essential skills required to become a welder. Understanding of blueprint reading, metallurgy, and safety are often key skill sets.
Certification: Welders do not necessarily need to be certified, however more and more employers think it’s valuable. When you graduate from a local college or technical/vocational institute you will be granted an AWS (American Welding Society) certification. This certification can help advance your career to positions like 6G Welder or Certified Welder.
Other Paths: Some welders transition to even more specialized fields, like Underwater Welder, Aerospace Welder, or Welding Inspector. For those with business savvy, you can go into business for yourself or work your way up into managerial positions in established companies.
The path is really up to the ambitions of the individual.
A lot of interest in the welding field has to do with its attractive pay. Because welders have strong demand, if you are good at your job, then job security can be nearly guaranteed. According to government statistics, median pay is $40,240 per year; the average hourly wage being nearly $19.35/hr. Entry-level to somewhat experienced welders can expect to make $14/hr to $18/hr, depending on geography and previous experience. For more experienced welders, the rate rises to $19/hr to $24/hr.
If you see your career path clearly, you’ll see that you are only as valuable as you are irreplaceable. To enhance this quality, it helps to cross-train on the job and learn many types of welding (or even other forms of fabrication, such as machining) to enhance your value to your employers. During the Great Recession, we watched construction take a major dive and then make a strong recovery. In time another downturn will come, and the more flexible a construction welder’s skills are the easier it will be for him or her to transition to the next position. Many employers understand this and are willing to train their workers, but they will also absolutely hire the person who has the skills closest to their needs or retain the worker that can cover more functions within their operations.
Xemplar Workforce Soutions provides career resources as well as recruiting services to top professionals and the companies that employ them in manufacturing, transportation, energy, automation/robotics, industrial services and many others. We enable machinists, mechanics, welders, fabricators, electricians, installers, quality control techs, service techs and other related tradespeople to find great opportunities and achieve their greatest potential in their fields. Learn more at www.xemplar.com.