Welders use hand-welding or flame-cutting equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations or seams of fabricated metal products.
Welding, soldering and brazing workers need good eyesight, hand-eye coordination, and manual dexterity, along with good math, problem-solving and communication skills. They should be able to concentrate on detailed work for long periods and be able to bend, stoop and work in awkward positions. In addition, welders increasingly must be willing to receive training and perform tasks required in other production jobs.
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Welders can advance to more skilled welding jobs with additional training and experience. For example, they may become welding technicians, supervisors, inspectors or instructors. Some experienced welders open their own repair shops. Other welders, especially those who obtain a bachelor’s degree or have many years of experience, may become welding engineers.
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Training for welding, soldering and brazing workers can range from a few weeks of school or on-the-job training for low-skilled positions to several years of combined school and on-the-job training for highly skilled jobs. Formal training is available in high schools and postsecondary institutions, such as vocationaltechnical institutes, community colleges and private welding, soldering and brazing schools. Some employers are willing to hire inexperienced entry-level workers and train them on the job, but many prefer to hire workers who have been through formal training programs.
Courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, physics, chemistry and metallurgy are helpful. An understanding of electricity also is very helpful, and knowledge of computers is gaining importance, especially for welding, soldering and brazing machine operators, who are becoming more responsible for programming robots and other computer-controlled machines.
Because understanding the welding process and inspecting welds is important for both welders and welding machine operators, companies hiring machine operators prefer workers with a background in welding.
High school diploma or equivalent plus vocational training, OJT or an AAS. Certifications: AWS/ASME.
Some welding positions require general certifications in welding or certifications in specific skills such as inspection or robotic welding. The American Welding Society certification courses are offered at many welding schools. Some employers have developed their own internal certification tests. Some employers are willing to pay training and testing costs for employees while others require workers to pay for classes and certification themselves.