What is a Welder?
A welder is a skilled tradesman or tradeswoman who joins metal together and fills or repairs holes in metal through the use of intense heat or gas. They can work in many manufacturing industries including Automotive, Aerospace, Defense, Ship Building, Medical Device, Architectural, Oil and Renewable Energy, Radio Communications etc.
A College Degree is Not Needed
Those who want to finish school quickly will be happy to know that welding is just a short trade program that you go through and doesn’t require excessive years of college. Some companies even offer welding school as part of the job and they will advance those who complete the course into better-paying positions within the company. Many careers working in shipyards or even offshore for companies in the U.S. offer training services for employees and it’s a great opportunity for those who want a steady job, but also for those who may want to take the trade with them and start their own welding business one day.
There are Different Types of Welding Techniques
Despite what the movies portray, welding is of course a serious job. It is used to join pieces of metal together and is a very skilled trade. So what are the different types of welding and what are they used for in industry?
MIG Welding (GMAW)
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) is one of the easier types of welding for beginners to learn. MIG welding a GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) process is actually two different types of welding. The first uses bare wire and the second flux core.
Bare wire MIG welding can be used to join thin pieces of metal together. Flux core MIG welding can be used outdoors because it does not require a flow meter or gas supply. MIG welding is usually the welding of choice for DIY enthusiasts and hobby welders who don’t have the money to spend on expensive equipment.
Very similar to MIG is MAG (Metal Active Welding) also a GMAW process. The only difference it uses an “active” gas vs an “inert” gas when heating.
Stick Welding (Arc Welding)
Stick, also known as Arc welding, is doing it the old fashioned way. Stick welding is a bit harder to master than MIG welding, but you can pick up a stick welding equipment for very little if you want to have a go at home. Stick welding uses a stick electrode welding rod.
TIG Welding (GTAW)
TIG is also known as GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding)
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding is extremely versatile, but it is also one of the more difficult welding techniques to learn. TIG welders are skilled individuals.
Two hands are needed for TIG welding. One hand feeds the rod whilst the other holds a TIG torch. This torch creates the heat and arc, which are used to weld most conventional metals, including aluminum, steel, nickel alloys, copper alloys, cobalt and titanium.
Plasma Arc Welding
Plasma arc welding is a precision technique and is commonly used in aerospace applications where metal thickness is 0.015 of an inch. One example of such an application would be on an engine blade or an air seal. Plasma arc welding is very similar in technique to TIG welding, but the electrode is recessed and the ionizing gases inside the arc are used to create heat.
Electron Beam and Laser Welding
Electron beam and laser welding are extremely precise, high energy welding techniques.
Spot welding (also known as resistance spot welding) is a resistance welding process. This welding process is used primarily for welding two or more metal sheets together by applying pressure and heat from an electric current to the weld area.
It works by contacting copper alloy electrodes to the sheet surfaces, whereby pressure and electric current are applied and heat is generated by the passage of current through resistive materials such as low carbon steels.
Gas welding is rarely used anymore and has been largely superseded by TIG welding. Gas welding kits require oxygen and acetylene and are very portable. They are still sometimes used to weld bits of car exhaust back together.
Orbital welding is a specialized area of welding whereby the arc is rotated mechanically through 360° (180 degrees in double up welding) around a static workpiece, an object such as a pipe, in a continuous process. The process was developed to address the issue of operator error in gas TIG welding or (GTAW) welding (see above), to support uniform welding around a pipe that would be significantly more difficult using a manual welding process, and to ensure high quality repeatable welds that would meet more stringent weld criteria set by ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineering). In orbital welding, computer-controlled process runs with little intervention (once setup) from the operator.
Welding is a Career In-Demand
Welding is a profession that is always going to be needed in manfacturing as long as there is a piece of metal that needs to be joined to another piece in order for something to work correctly. Whether you’re searching in one industry or another, they will continue to have jobs in many sectors across the country.
Welding Salary is Bigger Than You Think
Unlike some other trades that many people find to have low earning potential, welding comes with a large potential. You can earn as much, or even more, as a lawyer or doctor does. This is a fact that so many overlook when considering a career. Some of the top-ranking welders work in the military, underwater, or pipe welding sectors, earning as much as $100,000 to $200,000 per year. Sure, you will also find welding positions that start with a much lower salary, but as with any job out there, with hard work and dedication, there is always a way to work your way into a higher paying position.
Forget Sitting at a Boring Desk All Day
Instead of sitting at a desk day-in and day-out, you get to get your hands dirty on the job every day. This means you don’t need to worry about time moving slowly or being bored while you’re working. This is an ever-changing career and one that will keep you busy each day once you are established in the welding field. You could be working on a rail car one day then moving to a pipeline or even off-shore the next. Whatever metal object needs to be welded, you will be called to handle the job efficiently and effectively.
The job outlook for welding is very promising. Many manufacturers are looking for skilled welders and you can consider it one of the more secure jobs available. Striving towards safety awards and bettering your skills can also be high on your list. Welding may not be the choice for everyone, but for those interested, it can be a lucrative, rewarding career to have. Essentially, welders build the world we live in.