What Does a Welder Do?1
Welders use hand-welding or flame-cutting equipment to permanently join pieces of metal, fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products. They also repair metal parts, grind and solder materials. Welders are usually responsible for some or all of the following: following blueprints and specifications, using manual or semi-automatic equipment to attach metals, operate flame-cutting, brazing, and soldering equipment; and using metal-shaping machinery.
What types of jobs can you get as a trained welder?
Projected Job Growth
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers1
|Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steam Fitters2||15-21%||130,500|
|Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters3||8-14%||38,200
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas), also called GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding), uses a tungsten current form. Because TIG uses tungsten, it requires an additional filler placed inside the welding device as tungsten does not melt in the welding process. Tungsten is unique as it can be heated to a higher temperature before melting than all other metals. Tungsten Inert Gas Welding is usually used in industries that work with stainless steel.
MIG welding (GMAW)
Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG) is a process of welding that uses a gas to shield the weld metal. The gas keeps the metal being welded from being effected from natural elements in the environment, such as oxygen. This allows the welder to operate at a continuous rate, making the process fairly quick. The equipment used in MIG Welding can only be used indoors due to the gas involved in the welding process.
Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW)
FCAW is a semi-automatic or automatic arc welding process. FCAW requires a continuously-fed consumable tubular electrode containing a flux and a constant-voltage or, less commonly, a constant-current welding power supply. An externally supplied shielding gas is sometimes used, but often the flux itself is relied upon to generate the necessary protection from the atmosphere. The process is widely used in construction because of its high welding speed and portability.
Plasma Arc Cutting/Welding
Plasma cutting is a process that is used to cut steel and other metals of different thicknesses (or sometimes other materials) using a plasma torch. In this process, an inert gas (in some units, compressed air) is blown at high speed out of a nozzle. At the same time, an electrical arc is formed through that gas from the nozzle to the surface being cut, turning some of that gas to plasma. The plasma is sufficiently hot to melt the metal being cut and moves sufficiently fast to blow molten metal away from the cut.
Stick welding (SMAW)
Shielded-Metal Arc Welding, generally known as stick or arc welding, is the most basic of all welding types and is the easiest to master. Stick welding can be used for manufacturing, construction, and repairs, well suited for heavy metal size 4 millimeters upwards. Thinner sheet metals and alloys are usually more suited to the MIG welding types.
Oxy fuel welding and cutting
Not used as widely for general welding of mild steel, oxy fuel welding consists of mixing oxygen and acetylene gas to create a flame capable of melting steel. It is mostly used for maintenance work and gas metal cutting, for brazing softer metals such as copper and bronze, and can also be used for welding delicate aluminum parts such as refrigeration pipes.
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers. Retrieved 5/15/15. http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/51-4121.00
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Pipefitters, and steam fitters. Retrieved 5/15/15. http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/47-2152.00
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Structural metal fabricators and fitters. Retrieved 5/15/15. http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/51-2041.00
5 US Dept of Veterans Affairs, VRAP High Demand Occupations, http://benefits.va.gov/vow/docs/VRAP_High_Demand.pdf