You’ve probably seen welders before: they wear a big mask or helmet, wield a welding torch, and work with metal. If you’re interested in jobs where you work with your hands, learning how to become a welder is a fantastic step in your career search.
What Is a Welder?
A welder is a tradesman who concentrates mostly on joining and fusing different materials. Certified welders use a mixture of cutting-edge welding equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Certified welders use multiple skills to repair, maintain, and bring together structures and objects. Welders have worked on many items and structures you come into contact with daily.
What Does a Welder Do?
Fuses Materials Together
While you may think welders only bring metals like steel and iron together, they also work with many other materials. Different types of welding include cutting, plasma arc welding, and electric arc welding.
Welding requires workers to operate torches to rid metals of rust, fuse steel with steel, and more. When not using welding technology, welders dedicate time to ensuring plans and equipment are laid out and assembled correctly.
Essential Welder Skills
High Level of Dexterity
Although it may seem like welders stay relatively stationary during work, they need a surprisingly high amount of dexterity. Welding requires a deft hand to operate both cutting and welding torches.
Operating this equipment is dangerous and further physical prowess is needed to operate them under heavy personal protection equipment.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that working with things like scalding hot metal would require a heightened level of safety awareness and caution. As is the same with many hands-on careers, a large part of the job’s successful execution lends itself to robust safety measures.
A good mix of caution and common sense will make welding jobs move smoothly to completion. Injuries and hospital visits can result from not following safety measures.
Eye for Detail
Tying into the other skills, work as a welder requires you to have a discerning eye. Welding work is dependent on correctly reading and interpreting blueprints, plans, and more. Welding requires you to know about the essential compounds of what you’re fusing and the different effect materials have on one another.
Welder Salaries and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers earn an average of $42,490 per year.
Things are looking solid for welding work. There is a projected job growth of three percent, about as fast as average. There will always be a need for welders, whether building things from fusions or repairing bridges and structures.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Welder?
The career path for welders can vary in length. Today’s norm for welding educational requirements is for candidates to have at least their high school diploma or GED.
Would-be welders need to complete certificate programs and have valuable work experience in a welding program. Welding work is, first and foremost, a trade. This can involve trade school or community college classes and degrees.
Overall, this ranges from a few months to several years.
How to Become a Welder: A Step by Step Guide
Let’s see exactly how to become a welder in four steps.
Step 1: Get Your High School Diploma
This is the first requirement for consideration into many welding programs and community college majors. You need to show future employers that you have the basic skills to carry out a demanding job like welding.
Step 2: Get Your Degree in Welding
This isn’t a universal requirement, but earning a degree in welding can go a long way. A degree in welding usually requires around 12 to 18 months of study at various trade schools and community colleges.
If you can afford a degree and the time to learn, a bachelor’s degree can make your resume stand out.
Step 3: Apprenticeship or Work Experience
Put your skills to the test by searching for workshops or entry-level welding jobs. Earning a coveted apprenticeship can give you invaluable on-the-job training and give your credentials an impressive bump.
Step 4: Earn Your Welding Certificate
After you have some substantial work experience under your belt, it’s time to earn your welding certificate. This advertises to the world that you are a dedicated welding professional.
There are various options for earning your welding certificate. It would be best to consider joining the American Welding Society, which boasts well over 73,000 dedicated, certified welders.
The American Welding Society also gives certifications to would-be welders. Its Certified Welder program requires no prior credentials, only experience. The candidate must display a proficient level of expertise with welding technology.
Should You Become a Welder in 2020?
If you see yourself as a hard worker, someone who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty and earn immense satisfaction from a job well done, you should become a welder.
Whether you are right out of high school or trying out new career paths, welding work is always needed. Learn safety measures, chemistry, and start building and repairing.
Is welding work dangerous?
Yes. Welding work is extremely dangerous if the individual is not adhering to safety measures. There are many pieces of PPE that a certified welder must wear to remain safe while completing a job.
What’s the difference between a welder and a cutter?
While usually lumped into one field, welders and cutters are strikingly different. Welders use their intimate knowledge of metals and materials to fuse them using electricity and heat.
Where welders mold and fuse materials, cutters trim and cut. They use heat and electricity to cut and trim objects and structures to more specific measurements.
Do I need to be physically fit to work as a welder?
Yes, it would help if you were in good shape physically. Welding work requires the individual to operate machinery and equip PPE for long periods. Much of welding work is a test in endurance, dexterity, stamina, and strength.
How do I become certified with the American Welding Society?
You need to register and take an exam. This exam measures your work as a welder and your approach to the various safety measures in place. After you complete and pass the exam, you will earn an American Welding Society Certified Welder Certification.
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