The purpose of this article is to highlight the key aspects of the welder job description. Continue reading for a detailed outline of the main duties, qualifications, skills, and job prospects for welders.
A welder’s job is to assemble and fabricate structures made of metal. Using equipment such as welders, shapers, cutters, and other measuring tools, a welder is responsible for producing products according to employer or customer specifications and standards.
Job Overview: What Does a Welder Do?
Welders are responsible for providing the foundation for strong infrastructure. They operate equipment to join mechanical structures or parts with great precision. Architectural designs, repairs, and fixtures are just a few examples of what welders can create. On top of using various welding techniques, welders are also expected to lift and carry heavy objects, and work under harsh conditions including dirty environment, air contamination, intense noise, and restricted movement. Compensation averages at about $18 an hour.
Welder Job Duties
- Joins, designs, fabricates, and repairs equipment, structures, and various types of metal objects using an array of welding techniques such as MIG and TIG welding, electric arc, and oxygen-acetylene.
- Analyzes blueprints, plans, and drawings to determine measurements, plan layout, and sequence of welding assignments.
- Determines the best equipment and welding method based on the specific job requirements.
- Recommends supplies and materials, and estimates the cost of materials and labor.
- Operates drill presses, grinders, power saws, and other hand tools.
- Inspects and tests welded structures and surfaces to discover flaws.
- Uses and maintains equipment responsibly as to not compromise safety.
Welder Job Essential Skills
• Reading Comprehension. A welder must be able to read and comprehend company policies and procedures, as well as codes and specifications to prepare for projects. Reading and understanding safety manuals and operating procedures is also an important part of the welder job description.
• Document Use. Due to documents being an essential part of any welding project, a welder must be able to examine project documents and determine what lines and pipes are located in the work place, and what their contents are. This also applies to interpreting diagrams and tables on blue prints to determine engineering requirements.
• Knowledge of Materials. Welders must possess a strong understanding of metals and equipment, and show proof of experience using them.
• Numeracy. Welders are expected to use a lot of numbers regarding measuring, checking bills, estimating weights, calculating costs, and solving spatial problems.
• Writing. Writing skills are needed to successfully complete invoice reports for employees and material use, complete daily logs, complete incident reports, and outline safety guidelines.
• Communication. Exceptional communication skills are a must for welders. They must be able to clearly discuss assignments and explain welding designs to customers, give directions to those picking up and dropping off materials, and compare measurements with a partner when calculating a building or structure.
• Working with Others. Welders should be able to work independently and with other people as well. They are responsible for orienting new employees, informing and demonstrating how to perform a task to other workers, and participating in formal discussions about work processes that bring improvements.
Becoming a Welder
A high school diploma or equivalent in combination with vocational or technical education is typically required to become a welder. Taking courses in blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, and shop mathematics contributes to formal technical training. While many employers are willing to hire inexperienced workers and give them on-the-job training, those who have been through training and credentialing programs are still preferred.
Qualifications and Training
Depending upon the type of welding work one wishes to do, there are several different certifications welders can obtain. Certifications through the American Welding Society (AWS), American Petroleum Institute (API), and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) offer various pathways towards specific job opportunities.
Some states’ welder job description requires a welder license in addition to the certification, such as those of New York or Los Angeles. Those looking to work on a state or federal government project must check with their employer for specific welding certification or licensing requirements.
As stated before, taking certain courses in high school such as chemistry and metallurgy contributes to technical training. Attending vocational or technical schools that offer hands-on training and experience is ideal for those looking to get into the field of welding.
In the welding field, it’s important to stay up to date with procedures and training. One can easily do this by retaking practical tests periodically, completing company-specific training, attending informational sessions to learn about new products and methods, and pursuing learning on their own.
Welding is much more complex than many people realize. Due to this, it would be very hard to find a job in this field without some experience or background knowledge. Even veteran welders will receive several months of on-the-job training when hired.
One of the best ways to accumulate experience and knowledge of welding is through training, internships, and vocational schools. Even courses taken in high school can count as experience. Welders are needed in all types of industries. That’s why many employers are willing to give in-depth on-the-job training to those with little experience. However, those who have gone through a certification process are preferred.
Working hours for welders are similar to those of other trade areas. Early mornings and late nights are often required as projects tend to be put on a tight time line and budget. Welding can be a strenuous profession. Depending on the project, welders can work up to 70 hours per week. Hours are usually somewhat regular, and overtime is common.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment in this field is expected to grow 4% by 2024. This number is below average due to the fact that welders can easily shift from one industry to another. The basic skills needed for welding are similar across the industry. The overall job outlook for welders trained in the latest technologies is good. However, those not up-to-date with training may face strong competition. Reports show that as of May 2016, welders make an average of $39,000 annually.
A career in welding is a demanding one. Welders must be good with numbers and able to understand documents and codes. Still, employers have shown that they are willing to work with those who have little experience and train them on-site. While long hours are often required, this profession does compensate for the hard work with the nice salary.