Welding Careers – Learn How to Weld as a Hobby or a Career
I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
Welding is Necessary, A Bit Scary Looking, and Fun to Do??
Welding is everywhere around us from the houses we live in to the cars we drive to the buildings we work in.
What is Welding Used For?
Welding joins two pieces of different types of metal together to make one. Different types of welding machines exist to heat the metal to their melting points and combine them by applying a metal filler to create a very secure mechanical joint in which the weld is as strong as the surrounding metals. Welding differs from soldering and brazing in that soldering uses lower temperatures (<840°F) to connect two pieces of metal—usually for an electrical connection—while brazing is a cross between welding and soldering.
The welding process can be explained in three parts:
- Welding arc process is a continuous electric spark that is produced between the metal and the machine. The arc from the spark completes the electric circuit and is used to melt the metal. The welding arc temperature can produce heat up to 6500°F.
- Filler metal is used during the arc welding process to reinforce the welding joints. Filler comes in wire or stick electrode form. Welding wire is either solid or flux-cored; comes in different spool sizes; and varies in thickness, diameter, and type of metal. Welding stick electrodes are metal rods which are determined by the type of metal being welded, the welding process, and the machine. Like welding wire, stick electrodes vary in composition and diameter.
- Shielding gases are inert or non-inert and serve to protect the welded area from oxygen and water vapor while the filler metal melts and hardens. Shielding gas can be delivered either from a gas cylinder or from chemicals added to the filler metal which are released as it melts. All flux-cored wire and stick electrode welding are done without a gas cylinder.
An Overview of Welding Instruction Manual
With a little practice, you too can perform some small welding projects in your garage with inexpensive equipment for sale. Smaller, handyman projects around the house can be learned in an afternoon. For the non-hobbyist, it is important to attend a welding school program to obtain a degree or certification to start your welding career.
Typically, you will be working with steel that measures anywhere from 1/4″ to 1/16” in thickness. Smaller jobs can be done using basic MIG welder equipment such as a cheap 110-volt arc-welder, oxygen acetylene welder kit, or a 110-volt wire feed welder. While welding equipment is available to rent, because it is relatively inexpensive you may want to consider purchasing you own. A MIG welder machine costs a bit more than a small 110-volt arc-welder or the largely outdated oxygen acetylene kit; however, you can also purchase good quality used equipment.
How does Welding Work?
In its most basic sense, welding attaches two pieces of steel together. You are essentially melting them together using a steel rod to add additional metal to reinforce the joint. The steel is combined in one of two methods:
- MIG welder technique or arc-welder technique which both use electricity from the rod or the wire
- Oxygen acetylene welder process uses heat to melt the steel together from the flame
Good Welding Technique
Good welding technique requires a very steady and smooth motion to create an even combination of the metals while maintaining their integrity. You cannot simply melt the rod on top of the steel because it won’t be strong or permanent. Like most things in life, it takes practice to get the best results.
Welding Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Beginners
- Practice with the Same Material: When practicing, use the exact same materials, same wire, and same equipment to familiarize yourself with the process and outcome. Different materials will be handled differently during the process.
- Same Orientation: Perform the test in the same orientation you will be using, such at vertical or horizontal. Of course, welding in the flat position is the easiest and most preferred. Welding tables are the most comfortable due primarily to gravity and because you are working with a molten pool or metal. If welding vertically, you need to master controlling the puddle so gravity doesn’t disrupt it. It is widely recommended that newer welders first master the flat position before moving on to more challenging orientations.
- Firmly Position Your Work: Tack your materials in place so they don’t move around when you start laying a bead of steel. In fact, before laying the actual bead, run a couple of practice beads before laying the actual weld to ensure you are positioned to do so smoothly.
- Fillet Technique: Fillet weld is the process of combining two pieces of material at a perpendicular angle. This technique requires more time and expertise to ensure a successful outcome. You may want to spend more time laying the pool toward the top of the weld—as opposed to the bottom—as gravity will draw the molten material downward. For proper fillet weld design strength, you want an equal distance on both perpendicular pieces of metal without sagging in the middle.
- Wire Feed and Stick Out: A very important factor with flux core techniques or MIG is the “stick out.” This is the area between your contact tip and the end of your wire. Typically for a MIG wire types, you will use between 1/4″ to 3/8” stick out. If you use an overly long wire feeder, you run the risk of losing power or your shielding gas will be blown away.
- Indoors vs Outdoor Welding: It is widely recommended to do MIG welding indoors and flux welding and stick welding outdoors because the flux produces a lot of smoke. The only exception is if you have a very good ventilation system in your shop.
- Careful Tank Handling: Filled acetylene tanks should never be laid on their side as this could result in the materials mixing and diluting the acetylene gas. If the tank has been on its side, always store the cylinder in an upright position for at least 12 hours before use. The oxygen tank does not require this because it is filled with compressed gas. Even without the upright rule, it is important to remember that this gas is stored under tremendous pressure and care must be taken to prevent valve breaks or punctures to the tank to reduce the possibility of a dangerous projectile. These tanks are constructed from one single piece of metal and not seam welded, and must be regularly inspected and discarded if compromised.
- Ventilation: Ventilation is critical as the welding produces a lot of fumes and smoke. Never weld in a closed room. Ideally, you want cross ventilation when welding with a door on either side of your work area.
- Producing Tremendous Heat: Fire safety is extremely important because welding produces considerable heat. Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Fire Safety: Welding fire safety questions to ask yourself:
- Is there anyone else around you?
- Do I need a fire extinguisher or someone with water nearby?
- Are there any oxygen tanks nearby?
- Do I have a butane lighter in my pocket that can cause a dangerous spark?
- Is there any paper or other flammable materials in the area that can catch fire?
- Check Fire Extinguishers: Fire extinguishers need to be checked regularly. Make sure they are charged and recently tagged for certified operation.
- Safety Starts with Your Equipment: For optimum equipment safety, know your equipment. Make sure there are no frayed wires or leaking tanks. Thoroughly inspect your equipment and lines before starting work.
- Know Your Surroundings: Shop safety is #1! Think about your safety and anyone else around you.
- Protect Your Eyes: If you’ve ever seen a photo of a welder, you will notice they are wearing either dark goggles or a dark mask. Nobody should ever stare directly at the flame or the arc because their brightness can cause serious eye burns and long-term damage.
- Wear Proper Safety Clothing: To protect yourself from splattering conductive metal during MIG welding or arc welding, you should wear special TIG welding gloves, a facemask or other welding-approved eye protection, and flame-resistant clothing.
Welding Safety Training Checklist–10 Welding Protective Gear/Clothing You Need
- Safety Goggles to protect your eyes from sparks are absolutely important. There are several different options so find something you like and wear them! You can’t replace your eyes.
- Goggles (#5 shade) for gas cutting and gas welding. They do make sunglasses.
- Auto Darkening Welding Helmets for ARC with at least a #10 shade depending on welding amperage. Most helmets have auto-darkening lenses that adjust when you start welding. Without this protection you can severely burn your retinas, causing significant pain for at least 12-24 hours. Be sure to adjust the welding helmet sizing and tension so it doesn’t fall off when you lean forward. It is recommended to start with the tint set at 10 and adjust from there. If it’s too bright then go down to 9 and if it’s too dark go up to 11, and so forth.
- Heat Protective Clothing & Equipment that can withstand high temperatures and sparks. Welding generates very harsh ultraviolet light requiring you to ensure that all of your skin is covered to prevent burns. The sparks are molten steel between 2600° and 2800°F that can easily burn through skin, nylon, and other thin materials.
- Full Leather Welding Jacket that covers your shoulders and arms is highly recommended. Leather is the preferred material, followed by wool, and then cotton that has been treated with fire resistant chemicals. Synthetic materials are not recommended because they are made out of petroleum and can melt and burn. While arc welding sparks aren’t overly painful, you are exposed to radiation so protect yourself.
- Jeans are good to wear as they are thick and comfortable.
- Steel Toe Boots are recommended to prevent falling sparks from damaging footwear.
- A Cap is optional but makes the welding shield more comfortable on your head and protects against any sparks which may fly over the shield.
- Welding Gloves are a necessity. These should be either good leather gloves or welding gloves that protect against high heat steel welding or heavy cutting. TIG gloves are preferred because they are relatively light and don’t impede your fine motor skills for the welding process.
- Welding Ear Plugs for protection against loud noise are optional but recommended if you are grinding or in a shop with a lot of other noise.
Welding Supplies Online Stores
Welding supplies online stores can provide everything you may want or need such as machines, gloves, helmets, goggles, grease, and related equipment. These stores tend to be less expensive than big box retailers. If you are an Amazon Prime Member, we suggest clicking here.
Five Basic Types of Welding Joints
- Butt Joint—two flat pieces of material which are side-by-side.
- Lap Joint—two pieces of material placed on top of each other which also overlapping along a portion of the edge
- Tee Joint—two pieces perpendicularly placed against each other, with the edges meeting in the middle of a component or plate
- Corner Joint—the pieces intersect each other on a 90-degree angle, thus forming a corner
- Edge Joint—two pieces placed side-by-side and the adjacent groove is melded together
AWS Welding Symbol Chart–Used for Communication
AWS weld symbol charts are used to provide “how-to” information on each job’s drawings. Like symbols for architects, there is a welding symbol guide so the designer and the welder are on the same page during the project. While initially a bit difficult to learn initially, with practice they will become second nature. It’s helpful to first focus on the symbols you will use regularly. You can see the welding symbol chart here.
Different Welding Types Explained – Oxygen Acetylene vs MIG vs TIG vs Flux Cored
Oxygen-Acetylene Welding Basic Tips and Learn TIG Weld Basics
Original welding techniques were developed using pure oxygen and acetylene gas. MIG and arc welding is easier to understand once you get the hang of oxy-acetylene. TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas, which is formed when you hold your metal filler in one hand and the torch in the other. Though TIG welding is slower than MIG welding, it makes a very nice weld. Unlike the MIG, the TIG is better suited for thinner materials like aluminum.
A portable oxy-fuel rig can be used for other projects besides cutting steel. Most shops have portable oxy-fuel rig setups because they serve other purposes such as:
- Heating parts for forming
- Scarfing to remove excess material by burning it away
- Strengthening and repairing worn parts
- Pre-heating and post-heating during certain welding procedures
As the illustration (which?) shows, oxy-acetylene welding kits are comprised of one tank of acetylene and one tank of oxygen, sold in a set. The oxygen tank valve is factory installed and should never be removed, tampered, or changed. Due to the immense pressure of the contained oxygen, these tanks are equipped with a pressure relief valve if the tank exceeds safety levels. The tank also has a regulator that tells you the current pressure and amount of gas remaining in the tank. The regulator also regulates the working pressure to the torch that is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).
The torch handle is connected to two long hoses which lead to their respective regulators mounted to each tank. The torch body basically serves as the mixing chamber for the two gases. Torches are color-coded respective to their gas hose colors. The torches have a threaded end for different attachments such as a welding tip or a cutting tip.
Over time, the holes on the welding cutting tips can get clogged which results in tip overheating and possible malfunction. To reduce the risk, using a filing set to clean the holes and file the tip is highly recommended. Never attempt to clean the torch tip immediately after a job while it’s still hot.
Like starting a grill, when opening tank valves, make sure both are initially closed, and then slowly open them one at a time. During this process, stand off to the side in case of a pressure failure and potential flying debris. Turn the torch valve approximately one half turn and then move the regular wing nut either direction so the line pressure reads 5 PSI. Perform this process for each line.
Starting the flame requires an ignition source such as a striker. First test the striker a few times to verify sparks are produced before engaging striker at the nose of the torch to light it.
To properly shut down the system, do the following:
- Shut off the oxygen needle valve on the torch
- Close the gas needle valve, leaving the oxygen needle valve open
- Close both the acetylene cylinder valve and oxygen cylinder valve
- Squeeze the oxygen lever on the torch until all the gauges read zero
- Open the gas needle valve on the torch to bleed the remaining gas from the line
- Close both the gas needle valve and oxygen needle valve
- Unwind the regulator screw on each regulator until loose without letting them fall off
When practicing, use scrap metal and either a number 2 or 3 welding cutting tip. Your goal is to make a small wet patch of metal on your practice scrap and then to melt the metal rod in the puddle to create a bond between the two pieces. If your liquid metal isn’t hot enough, the metal rod will simply get stuck in the pool and won’t bond the two pieces together. If it’s too hot, you could create a hole in your project or simply melt it away. This puddling technique applies to all types of welding.
How to Oxy Fuel Cutting Basics
It is strongly recommended to use soapstone to trace your cutting lines because they can withstand high temperatures and are visible during the cutting process. You should also ensure you have proper footing to be able to make smooth and steady cuts. To start, hold the torch halfway over the edge until you see the metal turn a light orange color. This means the steel has reached its kindling temperature and when an oxygen stream is introduced into the process, a chemical reaction occurs between the heated metal and oxygen to burn—or cut—the steel. The oxy fuel process can cut steel up to ten inches thick!
4 Types of Welding Flames
In order to weld correctly, you need to have the correct flame. The two valves on the torch handle control the mixture of acetylene and oxygen. Generally, you want a neutral flame that comes after the carbonizing flame disappears from the outer cone to the inner cone. A neutral welding flame is preferred which looks well defined and clear. This is generally achieved while starting with an excess of acetylene which starts creating a feather like flame then balancing it out with additional oxygen. In the end, you tend to have a one-to-one ratio of acetylene to oxygen. To provide complete combustion, it will acquire additional oxygen from the air around.
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The positioning of the flame allows you to control the heat during your project. The outer cone’s temperature is approximately 2300°F (1260°C), while the inner cone tip is approximately 5850°F (3232°C). It is easier to work with a lower flame and temperature because it offers less variability than higher ones.
This video provides an overview of the different types of and uses for different flames
Flux Cored Arc Welding Basics
Flux cored arc welding basics are similar to the MIG welding process in that this type uses a wire fed process. While the same machine is used for MIG welding, the primary difference is you don’t need a shielding gas to protect the weld because it is already provided within the flux core. In a sense, flux cored arc welding is actually closer to stick welding.
Stick rod is a steel rod with an exterior flux coating. When the rod melts, it burns the flux which creates a shielding gas to protect the weld puddle. This process is great for outdoor projects like a fence or a gate.
Flux cored welder vs. stick welder have the following differences:
- There is no need to drag around large, heavy gas tanks
- The polarity is changed from DC positive for a MIG setup to DC negative
- The gas shielding cup is replaced with a protective cover
- Flux burning produces considerably more smoke
- Flux is better for heavier welding unlike thinner sheet metal which often creates holes through the material
Arc welding vs. gas welding requires you to adjust the heat by changing the amperage settings. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: plugging the hot lead into the various receptacles, or changing the dial settings. Thin metal is more difficult to weld and requires trial-and-error with small rods and low amp settings. Generally, 1/4”and 5/32”metal rods require about 100 amps vs 1/8” metal that requires only about 75 amps.
Unlike gas welding, arc welding requires you to simply scratch the rod (electrode) across your metal work, similar to striking and lighting a match. To establish an “arc”, you melt the rod and the metal you are welding simultaneously. Once the sparks begin to fly, you can begin to move the arc over the weld away from your work. At this point, you should, ideally, start to hear a crackling sound. The electrode will stick to your work if you’re too close and the arc will be broken if you are too far away. Moving the electrode slowly will cause the puddle to follow vs moving too fast forming a weak bond.
Removing Flux Welding Buildup
You do not want to leave a jagged or flux buildup if you plan on painting the area or running another pass over it. There are various methods to remove jagged or flux buildup.
- Chipping hammer–to knock it off, which is a slow process
- Wire brush–to smooth it, which is also relatively slow
- Wire wheel on a grinder–this is much faster and efficient. However, be sure to wear protective eyewear or a mask as the wires have a tendency to fly off. Also you can catch an edge of a weld resulting in the machine bucking
MIG Welding Basics for Beginners
What does MIG stand for? It means Mechanized Inert Gas Welding.
The mechanized aspect of MIG is the metal being fed through a motor and then a long tube to the torch head. Check out this video on MIG welding:
MIG welding is ideal for everyday factory work as well as in small workshops. MIG can be used to weld steel to aluminum to stainless to cast iron; however, different materials require different amperage settings based upon metal thickness and wire selection.
For smaller workshops, a 140-to-220 amp machine that requires a wire spool diameter of 1/16” to 1/4” inches is recommended. For larger machines, the wire spool size can range from 2 to 10 pounds, depending upon wire thickness and spool size. Check your equipment manufacturer’s specifications for the proper spool size and holder.
Of the various types of welding, MIG is the easiest to learn and master. The MIG welding process is commonly referred to as gas metal arc welding (GMAW) which is the most popular type of welding nowadays because of its simplicity. Additionally, MIG weld machines produce excellent strong welds which are clean and have structural integrity. Unlike arc welding where the welding wire is fed manually, with MIG welding the wire automatically fed at a predetermined speed and is 5-6 times faster.
The MIG process depends upon three main factors for a good weld:
- Electric arc intensity setting
- Feed rate of the wire
- Size of the wire
Each machine and manufacturer has different specifications. Be sure to familiarize yourself with and follow the directions that come with your machine.
MIG welder chart settings provide instructions and information. These charts can be found inside most equipment. Depending upon your process, you need to know:
- MIG wire size on the chart
- MIG shielding gas
- Amount of materials for your project
Armed with this information, the chart settings will be known once you’ve answered the three prior questions. When first starting out, I would adhere to the MIG chart settings. Over time you will know your own settings and get comfortable. You want to run your machine as hot as possible without loosing control. Get deep into the metal to get a good fused joint.
The MIG welding machine manufacturer will typically provide sample wire and tips for your machine. Depending upon your specific project, you may have to purchase additional wire of various thicknesses. With practice, experimentation, and time, you will learn the best materials for your equipment.
Experts recommend getting a welding handbook or manual with photos to keep with your welding machine checklist and equipment. This is much easier than running back and forth to check the Internet.
Welding Machine Grounding Safety
Ground clamp placement is necessary to complete the electric circuit to your work or your welding table top to produce a bond. The grounding connector connects the metal outside of your equipment to the ground. Some machines are designed with a doubled-insulated box within a box to provide extra insulation. Even with proper grounding, it doesn’t eliminate the potential for electric shock. Best practice is to wear dry insulated gloves and clothing while maintaining welding equipment for safety.
MIG Torch Cleaning
Once the torch tip is cool, check to see if you see shiny copper. You don’t want to see signs of carbon or beads of molten metal. If metal accumulates, the torch could overheat and begin malfunctioning. First, unscrew the gas nozzle and use a towel to wipe it clean. The torch tips will need to be replaced if you do not perform regular maintenance. Then take the nozzle and use MIG pliers. MIG pliers are for inserting its sharp edges into the nozzle and scrape away any of the metal beads inside by twisting. If the bee bees in the nozzle buildup, it will cause the tip to overheat making the wire melt inside the torch instead of the weld. It’s recommended to use anti-splatter nozzle dip to prevent nozzle buildup. The dip is a high temperature grease that acts as a release agent for the torch nozzle and tip.
Best MIG Pliers for Welding Uses
- Removing the hot contact tip from the torch gun
- Cleaning the splatter out of the inner gun nozzle
- Splatter removal from inside and outside the gas gun
- Cutting off burned or excess wire before continuing
- Holding metal in place during the welding process
How to Weld Preparation
First, turn the tank so the gauges are facing you. Open the tank valve slowly. If you open the valve too quickly, the pressure surge can damage the regulator. Be sure to close the valve when you are done because the tank can leak overnight, and over time will be costly to recharge. Additionally, try not to exert undue pressure upon your tank or MIG machine.
Next, turn on your MIG welder and let it run for about 30 seconds to allow the transformers to warm up. Then pull the trigger and feed about 6-12 inches of wire so gas can run through the tube and reestablish itself throughout the system. When holding the torch, have a firm grip and depress the trigger with conviction.
It’s a good idea to start with a spot weld that is flat with little extra protrusion over the surface.
Finishing the Welding Process
Turn off the welding machine’s power and then close the main tank valve. It is important that the system and tubing don’t sit with air trapped inside. To release remaining air, turn on the machine and pull the trigger.
Proper Way to use a MIG (GMAW) Welder Machine:
Welding is fundamentally about timing because the wire feed must be at a precise speed—neither too fast nor too slow. MIG welding is not simply by sight but also by sound. Listen for a sound like bacon sizzling in a hot pan to know you are at the right speed.
The ultimate goal is a smooth burn. If the MIG welder wire feed is too fast, then you will get considerable spatter and bad penetration. If the MIG wire speed is too slow, then it arcs at contact, resulting in too much time in between the zaps. Remember, wire speed is key! When adjusting the wire speed, turn the dial slowly like tuning a radio.
MIG Welding vs TIG Welding vs Flux Core Welding vs Stick Welding
When comparing a TIG welder vs a MIG welder, the TIG is very precise and clean, resulting in a good bead with little to no grinding. A TIG welder setup is best for short-runs, high technical precision, beautiful strong welds with little grinding, and with more versatile materials; however, the overall process tends to be much slower. TIG or GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) is the least productive and takes the most practice.
A TIG welder emits tungsten electrode from a torch. To protect the weld, argon is used to shield the gas. Maintain a short distance between the arc, the tungsten, and your metal. To meld the metal together you will first dip filler wire into the weld pool. Using a TIG welder vs MIG welder is more complicated because you need to control the torch, feed the wire, use the right current (AC for aluminum and DC for steel and more ferrous metals), and weld at the precise speed. Generally, welders use MIG for metal and TIG for aluminum.
Flux core arc welding vs MIG and TIG is preferred in outside windy conditions because it uses no gas. Flux core is similar to MIG except the hollow wire is filled with flux to shield the arc. It’s basically stick welding, but with an endless rod with flux on the inside. Flux is more portable and doesn’t require shielding gas or a regulator, which saves gas costs but the process produces smoke.
Similarly, stick welding or SMAW (Shield Metal Arc Welding) vs flux core has the filler rod coated in flux material creating the electrode. Unlike the more versatile TIG method, stick welding is best used for thicker materials. Also, arc welding is more portable since you don’t need a wire feeder or carry gas. Stick welding works with both AC and DC power sources.
Welding Jobs and Careers Can Make 6-Figures
Like most jobs, your welding starting salary won’t make you instantly rich, but as you improve your skills and gain experience, your pay will increase. Some of the best welders make over $100,000 per year, with some earning as much as $200,000 annually later in their career.
Brazers and Solderers vs Cutters and Welding Careers possess many similarities. With all of them, you are still joining two pieces of metal together but to various degrees. For soldering, metal filler is added at a lower temperature to create a bond. Soldering is often used to repair electrical devices, producing electronic circuits, and on plumbing projects. To add coatings on products to reduce corrosion, plumbers will use brazing. Brazed joints are generally used to achieve higher joint strength or fatigue resistance. The fundamental difference between the two is the melting temperature of the filler metal. Soldering utilizes filler with a liquidus below 840°F.
Cutters can work with manual oxy-gas welders or arc torches while other cutters are machine operators.
Different Types of Welding Careers—Starting Pay to Highest Paid Welder Job Opportunities
There are over one hundred different welding processes which carry various certifications. Welders can work in commercial or residential construction, to aerospace, to ships and maritime vessels, to automobiles—and beyond.
Starting Pay for a Welder Career
Welding salaries generally range from the low-$30,000’s to over $100,000 per year with various benefits. This career places a strong emphasis on expertise and the more certifications and experience you have, the higher your salary will grow. Here is a general overview of welding jobs ranging in pay from low to high:
- Tack Welder requires little prior experience to begin but has significant room for higher certifications. Though it is on the lower end of the pay scale, tack welding can also be highly technical depending on the type of project. According to SalaryExpert.com, the average annual tack welder’s salary in the U.S. is $40,000.
- Manual Welder does not require college, but some education and/or certification does help. The majority of welders tend to be TIG (GTAW) or MIG (GMAW) or stick (SMAW) welders who are compensated based upon their personal skills and the welding environment. Manual welder’s salaries range between $26,000 and $63,000, according to Payscale.com.
- Robotic Welding Operator usually takes some experience in the field. This position requires operating automated and mechanized processes such as GMAW or SAW (submerged). Robotic welding operators are generally responsible for all facets of the job: setup, operation, and troubleshooting. According to Indeed.com, the average annual salary for robotic welding operators is between $23,000 and $51,000. A similar position is a laser welding operator who operates laser cutters and laser beam machines as well. The average yearly laser welder operator’s salary in the U.S. is $37,000.
- Certified Welding Inspector requires considerable experience and/or engineering college. This type of inspection is not a simple brief visual inspection. This position requires administering various tests such as radiographic testing, magnetic particle inspection, ultrasound testing, and liquid penetrant inspection. The average annual salary for a certified welding inspector is $67,000, according to Chron.com.
- Welding Supervisor requires previous supervisory or management experience, welding experience, and technology training or engineering technician certification. The job entails supervising welders, overseeing projects, coordinating operations, and addressing logistics. According to Payscale.com, the annual welding supervisor salary is in the mid-$70,000’s.
- Welding Lab Technician requires either welding college technician training or a technologist degree. In this position, you will be responsible for performing destructive testing of the welding coupons, which are sample weldments sent for inspection to determine the quality of a welder’s work and to ensure they meet specifications. According to Glassdoor.com, the average annual starting salary for a welding lab technician in the U.S. is $56,000.
- Welding Technologist is similar to a welding technician but with more of an engineering role that requires more in-depth schooling. The position entails making engineering calculations, overseeing statistical process controls, and maintaining welding procedure qualification records. A welding technologist determines the correct metallurgical compatibility between the welding and base materials to ascertain the best materials for a particular job. The average annual salary for a welding technologist ranges from $38,000 to nearly $80,000, according to Simplyhired.com.
- Welding Engineer has similar functions to a welding technologist but requires at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering for verifying the various welding engineering documents. Additionally, a welding engineer is involved with every aspect of the job, from commencement to the end result. According to Glassdoor.com, the average annual welding engineer’s salary is between $82,500 and $120,000.
- Commercial Diver/Underwater Welder jobs combine the skills of diving and underwater welding and require attending a commercial diving school in addition to obtaining welding training. Whereas highly-experienced commercial divers/underwater welders can earn over $300,000 per year, most individuals in this position start at approximately $25,000, with a realistic opportunity to earn $80,000. The average salary for this position is around $55,000. The high variability in salary is the result of these welders usually working on a per-project basis instead of being steadily employed by a single employer.
Welding Schools FAQ’s
What is the job outlook for welders and a welding career?
There are many opportunities both locally and around the world. Welding jobs are everywhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the welding job outlook is projected to increase by 15 percent through 2020. This rate is slightly above average with estimates of an additional 50,000 jobs by 2020.
Can I get into welding through an apprenticeship?
Yes, you can pursue a welding apprenticeship program. It is strongly recommended that you take welding courses either online or in person before starting an apprenticeship.
How do I become a welder’s apprentice?
An apprenticeship entails at least 144 hours of classroom education per year in addition to the 2,000-to-2,500 hours per year over three-to-four years of actual welding experience under the supervision of senior welders. As would be expected, the more technical the job the longer the apprenticeship.
What are welding certifications?
Individual certifications can be earned from the American Welding Society (AWS) by demonstration certain skills such as sheet metal welding, gas metal arc, pipelines, structural welding, and groove welding, for example. Certifications require application, testing, and fees. If you attend an actual welding education program, these—and many other certifications—can be earned through the school.
Do welding certifications expire?
Yes, certified welders must maintain their certification by submitting documents every six months to demonstrate continued employment in this field.
What are the different types of welding certifications?
The most widely used welding certifications include:
- MIG welding, properly knows as Gas Metal Arc Welding or “GMAW“.
- Stick welding, also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding or “SMAW“
- Flux Core Arc Welding or Wire Wheel Welding
Why do companies use AWS-accredited test facilities for testing and qualifying welders?
AWS-accredited test facilities help companies improve productivity and save money by outsourcing. In addition, ATFs help reduce their liability by hand over their welder certification to the professionals. Click here for AWS American Welding Society’s test facilities. http://www.aws.org/certification/accreditedtestfacilities
What kind of welding jobs are available?
- Custom work on automobiles
- Structural repair at construction sites
- Underwater welding
- Construction industry positions such as plumber, steamfitter, or pipefitter
- Shipbuilding industry positions like materials engineer or boil-maker
- Manufacturing industry positions such as cutter, solderer, brazer, or sheet-metal worker
What types of different opportunities do welding schools teach to broaden skillsets?
How long are welding trade schools?
Depending upon the school and the type of career, formal welding training can range from five weeks up to two years.
What are usual welder working hours and conditions?
A typical work week is around 40 hours; however, flextime is common, as is overtime when deadlines need to be met.
Working conditions depend on the type of job. If you work at sea on a big oil rig, then you will likely face various weather conditions including the potential for extreme wind, rain, sun, and storms. Although offshore welding jobs may have suboptimal working conditions, they tend to pay considerably higher wages. If you work within a ship’s hull of a ship, then your working environment will be confined. As a commercial diver/underwater welder, wearing a wetsuit and oxygen tank while working in the water is your normal working environment.
What qualities and skills are necessary before considering a career in welding?
- Good hand-eye coordination with manual dexterity in working spaces of various sizes
- Ability to focus
- Precision and accuracy in your work
- Good eyesight including through goggles and a dark helmet
- Independent worker
- Knowledge of different welding techniques like MIG, flex core arc, TIG, and oxy-fuel
- Decent math and measurement skills
- Conscientious and mindful of safety
- Problem-solving skills
- Effective time management skills and the ability to work under deadlines
- Ability to coordinate related projects and communicate well with coworkers
- Adaptable to changing weather and environmental conditions