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How to Become a Welder

Welders operate various types of machinery, equipment, and tools to manufacture and repair metal structures, parts, and products. They work in a wide range of industries, including construction, manufacturing, and automotive. Welding requires keen attention to detail and the ability to interpret designs, blueprints, and schematics. Welders must adhere to all safety procedures and maintain welding equipment and machinery in proper working order. 

Welders need to plan layouts, measure parts, and test and inspect welded surfaces to ensure the stability and strength of the finished product. They also must follow guidelines to meet company or client requirements. As a welder, you must always follow safety regulations and wear protective gloves, masks, and shoes. 

Do you like putting things together? Are you handy with tools and machinery and have excellent attention to detail? If so, a welder might be a perfect career choice for you. 

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is in need of strong and hardworking welders who will help us fulfill orders for our customers. We are looking for someone who is able to take accurate measurements, decide which equipment to use, and then properly use the equipment to build according to a blueprint. Primary responsibilities will include setting up and operating welding processes while achieving and maintaining established quality and productivity standards. Your work is crucial to our success, so if you are reliable, have a great work ethic, and will arrive on time, you would be a great candidate for this position. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Examine blueprints and sketches 
  • Maintain equipment and machinery
  • Weld components in various positions 
  • Operate various machinery following safety protocols

Education and experience

This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Many employers prefer technical or on-the-job experience as well as certifications. 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Physical stamina and strength 
  • Manual dexterity
  • Knowledge of technical and mechanical terminology, processes, and equipment 
  • Detail-oriented and ability to handle potentially hazardous conditions
  • Ability to comprehend instructions, drawings, and blueprints 
  • Thorough understanding of welding processes 

Preferred qualifications

  • Pass 6G Butt and Tee Branch welding tests
  • Must test to API 1104 certification
  • Ability to read and interpret blueprints and mechanical drawings
  • An understanding of API 1104 certification standards and procedures

Typical work environment

Most welders work outdoors and may be working in all sorts of weather. They often work high off the ground and may be asked to lift heavy objects or stand in an uncomfortable position.  It is not uncommon that you will be asked to work overtime as projects run behind on deadlines. This can be an extremely grueling environment, especially during intense summer and winter seasons.

Typical hours

Welders work during regular business hours in a manufacturing environment. Many may work outside and risk hazardous conditions and injury. They may have to lift heavy items and work in awkward positions. For these reasons, Welders must take preventative action by wearing protective clothing. 

Available certifications

There are many certifications available to increase your experience, knowledge, and opportunities in the welding field. Companies are looking for a reliable and certified welder, so institutions offer different certifications to help. Check out the following: 

  • Certified Welder (CW) Program. This program has no prerequisites and tests welders on their knowledge of course of action for welding structural steel, petroleum pipelines, sheet metal, and chemical refinery welding industries. Tests must be taken at an AWS-Accredited Testing Facility. Certification credits are transferable. This program offers the opportunity for welders to obtain new skills and certifications and learn new skills for different types of welding work. 
  • Certified Associate Welding Inspector (CAWI). This credential allows young welders to work alongside a Certified Welding Inspector to inspect if welding work is acceptable. Once achieved, it’s valid for three years. This credential allows someone to gain the experience they need to become a Certified Welding Inspector and gain hands-on experience, while still having someone with even greater experience at their side. There is a fundamentals exam on information such as destructive testing, fabrication in math, and safety in welding, as well as a hands-on portion of the examination.
  • Certified Welding Inspector (CWI). A certified welding inspector is responsible to inspect a weldment and determine whether or not it is acceptable according to a specific code or standard. They will ensure the quality of work and that a weldment is built safely. Certified Welding Inspectors handle qualification records and must be detail-oriented because they may catch mistakes others before them may have missed. This is a prestigious credential and is highly regarded because of the experience and knowledge required. The exam is a three-part exam that includes a fundamentals portion, a practical exam, and an open-book exam using the codebook.

Career path

This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers may prefer job candidates with technical or on-the-job experience as well as welding certifications. Welders have the opportunity to advance to positions such as welding engineer and robotic welding technician. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 51-4121

2020 Employment418,200
Projected Employment in 2030452,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 8% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift34,100 increase

As technology advances, the applications for welding grow and therefore, will increase the demand for welders. The American Welding Society offers certifications and opportunities for education and professional development.