What Skills Do I Need To Become a Welder?
Knowing the skills required for success is important when you’re deciding on your career. This information prepares you for working in your field and helps you become the ideal candidate for job openings. When people think of what’s required of welders, they often think of the physical demands—it’s a strenuous trade. However, there are many different skills that can help you get hired and progress along your chosen path.
- Understanding of and ability to read blueprints.
Planning for any construction project revolves around blueprints, so it’s essential that you know how to read them. They will be your guide in any job, from parts fabrication to large-scale building, providing the information you need for ordering and working with material. You also need to be able to recognize errors or flag any necessary changes.
- Mathematical skills.
Welding is a trade that requires precise numbers. You will use math every day as a welder, in reading blueprints, determining distances and angles and calculating the strength of each weld. Equipment calibration is vital knowledge and is also math-based. If you’re not strong in math or if it’s been a while since your last class, you may choose to take refresher or upgrade courses at your local college
- Knowledge of various welding techniques.
Although there are apprenticeships available, employers are often looking for experienced welders. The best welders have good knowledge of many different welding methods. The most common are MIG (metal inert gas), TIG (tungsten inert gas), stick and flux-core, but some employers or industries may require more specialized skills. Knowing which industry you would like to work in can tell you which specific welding techniques will be the most helpful to you.
- Ability to perform related fabrication tasks.
The act of welding is only one part of a welder’s job. Other tasks can include torch-cutting, grinding, beveling, simple soldering and brazing. Having a thorough knowledge of these and other skills is indispensable in becoming a sought-after welder.
- Strong interpersonal skills.
Welders encounter many people throughout their day. To work with other tradespeople, project managers, suppliers and clients, you need to be able to communicate efficiently. The ability to explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you’re doing it will help prevent misunderstandings and keep a job running smoothly. Having an approachable manner in your interactions will set you up as someone others want to work with again.
- Attention to detail.
Having an eye for minute detail is crucial when you’re a welder. Small flaws can have a big impact, even to the point of causing a weld to fail completely. This could be caused by not prepping your material properly, letting your equipment get a little run-down or settling for just ‘good enough’ work.
- A good work ethic.
As with any job, welding requires commitment. Clients and fellow tradespeople are depending on you to do your work so that the project can be finished on time. All the trades on a job site need to coordinate with each other, and having one person who isn’t putting in their all can hold up everyone’s work. A good work ethic is one of the strongest personal qualities you can bring to the table.
Where to Learn Welding Skills
Any fabrication tasks are best learned in a controlled environment, where you can not only study the method but also practice turning out quality work. From basic blueprint reading to advanced welding techniques, look to local or state technical institutes for high-caliber programs. You can also reach out to your local welders’ union hall for courses or information on schools.
Not all skills can be taught. Welders need to have technical proficiency, but they also need to be effective communicators, work well with others and have a commitment to excellence in their work. A strong work ethic can help you achieve all of this and more.