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Skilled trade specialists are always in demand, and the future well-trained welders is as robust as it ever was. WeldingTech.net offers all the information you need to get started in this exciting field, with data on schools and training, career information and the job outlook by state.
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A Day in the Life of a Professional Welder
When considering any career, it’s important to find as much information as possible. This includes knowing what the job looks like day to day, including what equipment you’ll need, what work you’ll do and what challenges you’ll face on the job. With welding, there’s a lot to think about.
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The first thing a welder needs to think about, even before they get to the job site, is their equipment. Is the welding machine ready to go? It will need to be in impeccable shape in order to create high-quality welds. A poorly maintained or damaged welding machine not only does a sub-standard job, but it can also be dangerous. Do they have their safety equipment? Welders must wear a welding mask, ear plugs, fire-retardant gloves, solid boots and leathers to cover the rest of their body. In many situations, a respirator is required to filter out particulate or gasses.
Welding positions span many industries, which means that work environments can vary greatly. Many welders work in fabrication and manufacturing shops; others work in the construction industry, either on new structures or on retrofitting and maintaining older structures. The oil and gas industry also employs welders, and welders working on oil rigs or in shipbuilding may be required to do underwater or hyperbaric welding. This skill requires special training.
Common Tasks for Welders
In an average day, a welder will arrive at a jobsite and meet with their foreman, and perhaps the site manager, to discuss the day’s work and make sure all the necessary permits are there. Everyone also needs to be aware of the site’s work and safety requirements. Once the plan is laid out, the welder will check their work area to ensure its safety and make sure their welding rig is set up correctly.
Work can begin once everything is safe and ready to go. A welder’s basic tasks are consistent across all industries—from parts manufacturing to oil rigs, welders will set up and maintain their equipment, prepare material or parts for welding and create the weld itself—but the materials and methods will vary between work environments. Some common metals to work with are steel, aluminum, copper and cast iron, and welders need to know which welding method to use for which purpose and material.
Physical Demands of Welding
Welders need to be physically and mentally fit in order to be successful in the field. They need to be strong enough to lift material—pipes or sheet metal, for example—and assist in its placement, as well as move their own equipment. They also must have the stamina to complete long tasks and make it through a day of working with heavy tools. Because welders often work in tight spaces, there is even a certain amount of flexibility required.
Mentally, welding requires the concentration to complete long tasks. This concentration and focus are also what helps prevent injury to both the welder and to others, because distraction is dangerous. When working in tight spaces, welders need to be able to tolerate the confinement without too much stress.
Safety Hazards and Risks
Working in welding is hazardous, which is why safety equipment and proper training are essential. Some of the most common injuries are from arc flash, also known as welder’s flash, which can damage eyesight; burns, from sparks or hot metal splatter; and hearing damage, from prolonged exposure to loud noise. Risks associated with the job can include falls, starting fires or even causing explosions through improper handling of fuels like acetylene
Putting it All Together
Welding has its own challenges and potential hazards, but coming into the field with good training and a strong work ethic can reduce both daily stress and the risk of accidents. A good attitude also makes the day more enjoyable. Remember that regardless of how or why you start welding, you will find that it can be a versatile and rewarding career.
Welding Trade Associations
Hobart Institute of Welding Technology