Can You Take The Heat - A Career In Welding

Are you a hands-on type of person who enjoys working with metal and heat? Do you like solving problems and feeling a sense of accomplishment after a long, hard day of work? Welding may be the career for you.

What Is Welding?

Welding is a high-ranking industrial process that uses fusion to permanently join together two or more pieces of material, most often metals or thermoplastics. This is different from techniques such as brazing or soldering because welding melts the base metal, along with an additional filler material, in order to form a pool of molten material – known as the weld pool – which cools and creates a joint that is stronger than the base material. To produce a weld, pressure may be used by itself or in conjunction with heat. There are also less common solid state welding processes that do not melt metal, such as friction welding.  The most economic and efficient manner of joining metals permanently, welding is essential to the economy because almost everything you use in your day-to-day life is either welded or made by equipment that is welded.

What Does A Welder Do?

From coffee pots to skyscrapers, space vehicles to everyday automobiles, as a welder you will be responsible for helping to build virtually everything and anything you see on a daily basis. Since the use of welding is practically unlimited, there is a wide variety of work to be done and a range of industries in which you can ply your trade. As a skilled worker, you could be welding steel structural beams for buildings and bridges, pipes for oil pipelines and refineries, panels for cars, or components for machinery, just to name a few examples. Some of your duties will include using clamps or bolts to position and secure metal parts, and igniting and applying torches to the areas you’re welding. Not only is welding a physically demanding job, it also requires you to be mentally alert, as you must monitor the welding process to prevent any mishaps and keep an eye out for any defects. You may be surprised to learn that welding makes use of more sciences than any other industrial process.

How Do You Become A Welder?

Prepare for your career in welding by taking shop, math, and science classes in high school. If your school offers a welding class, you can familiarize yourself with standard oxy-acetylene technology and assorted metal-shaping equipment. From there, you can seek further training through the military or community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and private academies that offer certificate and associate’s degree programs. Certificate programs may instruct you on specific welding technologies or a broad range of technologies, while associate’s degree programs include multiple technologies and topics like blueprint reading, drafting, metallurgy, and site safety, as well as an internship.

Different Types of Welding

There are many different types of welding that you should research and understand if you want to become a welder. Here are just a few examples:

Metal Inert Gas Welding

Also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding, MIG welding is the most common and easily mastered form of welding for home and industrial use. As stated on the Pro Welder Guide, a MIG welder can be used by novices with minimal training and forms an electric arc between a consumable wire electrode and the metal, which can include aluminum, copper, steel, nickel, magnesium, and their alloys.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding

Commonly referred to as arc, stick, or electric welding, SMAW is the most basic form of welding and the easiest to learn in a home setting. Using electric current to create an arc between the stick and the metals to be fused, SMAW is well suited for heavy metal size 4 millimetres and upwards, and can be employed in construction, manufacturing, and repair work.

Tungsten Inert Gas Welding

Otherwise identified as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, TIG welding requires more expertise from the operator and is used when you need a superior standard of finish without excessive clean up, sanding, or grinding. A non-consumable tungsten electrode produces the weld, which is protected from atmospheric contamination by an inert shielding gas such as helium or argon. This type of welding is commonly used to bond thin pieces of stainless steel and metals like aluminum, magnesium, and copper alloys.