A welder is a person who uses and applies heat to mingle, melt and join pieces of metal together. Welding is used not only for structural beams of bridges, buildings, pipes, and pipelines. It is used in refineries, in cars, machinery and even for household goods as well as projects. Welders need to position and secure the parts of the metal with bolts, clamps, and restraints, then ignite torches and apply it to the welding area, monitor the entire process of welding, prevent overheating and mishaps from happening and finally examining the welds which have been done.
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Process of becoming a welder
In order to become a welder, you need to get a good high school education and it helps if you have taken math, science and shop courses. Some schools offer welding courses where they teach oxy-acetylene welding and using different metal shaping equipment. Students who have done these courses in school have an edge when they take up welding as a career choice.
After high school education, some employers train young people on the job though most want the person who is interested in being trained to have some kind of formal training. This formal training is possible through various certificate or associate degree programs. These programs cover different technologies and they cover various topics which include a reading of blueprints, drafting, site safety, and metallurgy. Most of these associate programs which are degree courses also include an internship program.
Post getting formal training, the person can apply to the industry of their choice where their skills can be applied. They can work as cutters, welders, solderers as well as brazers. Some of the employers also have internal certification programs which are purely performance based and do not have any prerequisite qualifications for education. This kind of certifications only test your performance of welding using either sheet metal, structural sheets, petroleum pipelines or chemical refineries. However, this certification is valid only for 6 months and in order to keep it current one needs to submit a maintenance form six monthly to prove that you are still employed as a welder.
Knowing about the trade
A welder or a person who wants to get into the trade of welding needs to first know the demands the job has. Commercial welders are people who need to be physically as well as mentally fit. They need to have excellent hand-eye coordination. They should also be able to focus on repetitive tasks for extended periods of time. In order to weld or get into the occupation of welding, one needs to be very meticulous. If the person is careless or clumsy, they will not be able to weld. Welders need to have pride in their work.
Welders also need to be self-starters and self-motivated people. In most cases, it is seen that part of their job may involve either finding jobs or finding projects to do. Welders need to be near noxious fumes and bright lights as well as hot metals and therefore, they need to have a steady hand and not be afraid of intense heat or not be averse to bright lights. They also need to be aware of the dangers and the rigors involved in the trade before taking up the occupation.
Getting into the welding trade
To become a welder there are various community colleges which can be attended. These have welding programs. There are also adult vocational programs as well as there are trade schools which offer training to those interested. This is the best method of getting into the industry. There are also private welding schools which one can attend. In case one qualifies, one can also avail of scholarships which are offered.
If one has no experience in welding or when all the welding work done by the person was at home as a hobby, attending an introductory welding course helps the person to learn about safety skills which are required as well as the mechanics which go with the job. Practicing is the best way to be a good welder as this skill is best improved not by theoretical or classroom learning but by continuous welding. The person needs to learn the basics of welding like striking an arc, controlling puddles and more. First, the beginner starts with making tacks which are small welds. These are used so that the metal sheets or metal pieces can stick together without having clamps holding the metal. Then the beginner learns to accurately control the arc as well as the wire and rod feed so that the pieces get connected. Industrial welding now mainly consists of flux core machines for welding. These machines help to weld jobs to be easier. However, the welder needs to know what kind of welding is required for each job.
Types of Welding
In order to be a welder, the beginner needs to focus on one or more strains of welding. The different types are:
• MIG welding which is also known as metal inert gas welding. This is normally used for fabrication work done in stainless steel, steel or aluminum. The automotive industry, as well as shipyards and other such industries, use this kind of welding. They most commonly use flex-cored welding.
• There is also stick welding or shielded metal arc welding. This welding is popular due to its affordability as well as ease of use. This is used by hobbyists and for construction jobs.
• TIG which is referred to as tungsten inert gas welding is used for high-quality welds and this is used in stainless steel welding. This is a high skill job and so if the person trains in this branch of welding, he or she stands a better chance at getting a job.
Progression of a welder
To become a welder, after apprenticeship, the person then rises to the rank of a journeyman. This entire process takes about 3 years. Though the period is not fixed and may vary based on the region or industry the welder is in.
Jobs offered to welders
There are different jobs which are open to welders. Based on what the position is being pursued, the experience, as well as certifications, will vary. The positions are:
a) Welders – these are people who weld metal and these are useful in all types of manufacturing ranging from ships to cars to even household items or heavy machinery. Welders normally do not assemble metal which has to be welded or they do not even operate any machinery or do anything other than weld.
b) Welding engineers are people who have more responsibility on their hands. Their responsibilities include project management. It includes metallurgy, planning as well as overseeing of welders. These people need experience in drafting using Computer Aided Design as well as they require to possess usually a 4-year degree in welding engineering or material engineering. Some of them also have advanced degrees.
c) Welding Instructors are those who have passed the certified welding instructor examination which is a certification examination held by the AWS. They then get certified to instruct others. These are teaching jobs and those with a flair to teach will do well in these positions. However, in order to be qualified as an instructor the person needs to have a lot of experience in various styles of welding. It is only then that they will be able to qualify for the certification.
d) Welding inspectors : These are persons who are certified and who evaluate the standards of welding in terms of quality and they also check if these are as per the standards set by the AWS. These people need on-the-job experience as well as they need to work along with a person who is a Senior Welding Inspector. It is only after meeting up with these criteria that one can complete the certification which is required for this job.
Usually, the AWS certification consists of both a written test as well as a welding test. This needs to be taken either every six months or every year based on the requirements of that region. The certification is also valid for the discipline which is being tested. Commercial welders need to complete MIG 3G certification or AWS GMAW certification. This tests the skills on different positions. Other than that there are other certifications which may or may not be required for a specific job. When the person completes this certification, though, he or she is titled as a certified welder.
Welding engineers, however, need to complete the Welding Engineer AWS certification. This covers not only practical topics but also geometry and fundamental techniques. Post completion, the person is then titled as a Certified Welding Engineer. If a person wants to be a welder he or she should also practice reading blueprints, managing staff as well as overseeing projects. It helps if they also learn TIG welding or some other kind of welding in addition to their discipline as this will help the person in handling a variety of jobs. This is an occupation which is in great demand and the demand for welders will only increase further in the future.