By Audrey Jenkins – guest author
If you’ve driven by a construction site and seen a shower of sparks being generated by a man who seemed to wear a metal mask, you’ve seen a welder at work. For more than a century the welder has been an essential part of the American industrial work force. Joining metal together in a permanent bond is the essence of the welder’s profession.
Today, a shortage of skilled welders affects both U.S. and Canadian companies, creating a significant demand for new welders trained in the latest technologies. And this career area is also resistant to downturns in the economy. New and exciting ways of welding, combined with high demand and competitive salaries, as well as increasing sophistication of the market, makes welding an intriguing career choice for people who love to work with their hands.
Valuable Welding Skills
While the future of a career in welding is bright, individual success, including benefits and job security, will usually require specialized training in the field of welding. So what are the options? This infographic from Tulsa Welding School lays out the career path you can take to start a welding career.
Here are some of the duties you might have as a professional welder:
- Evaluating blue prints and construction plans to calculate the amount of and type of welding needed
- Inspecting materials and structures that utilize welding, both before and after the job
- Filling a vital maintenance role for equipment and machinery
- Working with robotic welders
- Managing projects
- Handling sales and contract bidding
One of the more attractive aspects of the field of welding is that you do not need a college degree to get started. Rather, you can gain your welder’s certification in as little as seven months. After this first step, your advancement will be based on your own skill level and experience. Often, you can get a job simply by passing a field test.
For those willing to attend one of the few United States universities offering 2 or 4 year degrees in welding engineering (also called materials joining), check this out: many industries compete long before graduation to hire nearly all of the roughly 100 nationwide graduates. These unique engineers are in high demand for their abilities to turn scientific welding knowledge into new products and higher profits, to interpret and apply welding codes, to interface with other engineers and managers, and to organize, structure and train welders and welding technicians into a highly competitive team.
Welding in Different Industries
Welders are employed in virtually every field of manufacturing, construction, shipping, and other trades and markets. This range of industries allows you to work with the military, onboard ships and in shipyards, on pipelines and oil rigs, programming welding robots, or responding to industrial needs for repairs and upgrades.
Along with solid job security, your expertise as a welder can allow you to earn a healthy income, as much as $51,000 or more at the high end of standard jobs. Additionally, the more extensive your training and experience, the more you can earn, even up to $200,000 or even $300,000 a year in some of the more specialized fields such as underwater applications and military support functions. Welders who are willing to travel and work in remote locations also have a higher earning potential.
Degreed Materials Joining (welding) Engineers usually graduate earning roughly $60,000 – 70,000 and can eventually earn well over $100,000 a year as senior engineers or engineering managers.
See the infographic below, and click on welding school links to the right, to learn more about the field of welding as a profession.