What is welding? | Institute of Medical and Business Careers

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What is welding?

You may have seen videos of welders in a protective suit, an oversized helmet with dark tinted visor, and using a tool with sparks flying! It looks cool, but what is welding?

Welding is the formal process of joining two materials by fusion, or very high heat, that makes the bonded item even stronger than it was before the welding. Following a guide, or blueprint, welders use their knowledge and skill to weld metal to reinforce a structure. For example, this could be something as common as a children’s metal swing set at the park, or as huge as a military ship!

Welding is a hands-on job that requires practice and attention to detail. It involves using very high heat, and sometimes challenging work locations such as narrow spaces (under cars or in ship passages) or high up on building scaffolding. Because of these factors, a career in welding is not without a bit of danger. It is very important that only those with the training and knowledge of welding and the required safety rules, fill these roles.

What tasks do welders perform?

Using one of the well-known welding processes, such as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) or stick welding, a welder creates, fixes, or updates structures. Most common is welding that uses metals like steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. If you think about a swing set, and the area where the metal leg meets the metal bar that holds the swings, that was done by a welder!

Welders must also maintain their equipment and protective gear so that it remains in top condition for safety and performance

Where do welders work?

Welders work everywhere. This is a career path that is not limited by industry or location. For example, you can find welders working for all levels of the government and military, aerospace industry, commercial construction, transportation organizations, technology organizations, car manufacturers, power plants, fuel pipelines, cruise lines, and train routes.  And that is just a small sample.

Welders work on everything from ships and construction sites to bridges and buildings. Some welders work in a warehouse indoors and others work out on an outdoor job site. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the United States’ aging roads, highways, and bridges are another sector of the economy and infrastructure in need of  welders.

While working individually completing tasks, a welder is usually a part of a team with other trades specialists. It is a great career if you enjoy the freedom of working independently, but also with others on larger projects.

How do I become a welder?

Because it can be a dangerous occupation, being a welder is not just learning how to weld materials together. There are important safety considerations and processes that every welder must follow. Enrolling in a certificate program is one of the fastest ways to learn the most popular methods of welding, the safety protocol, and practice the trade hands on.

What is it like to be a welder?

Everyday can be a bit different when you are a welder. One day you could be working indoors cutting and shaping the materials you need for a large project. The next, you could be working on a new skyscraper or working with a crew to reinforce a bridge. Welders can work varying shifts and some companies even offer work outside of a 9-to-5 shift and/or overtime. Of course, each welder’s day will look different, and filled with different work. For those who prefer more of a routine, a career in welding in manufacturing might be a good option. In this type of role, you’ll focus on a particular group of skills with consistent hours and processes.

If you like hands-on, detailed work where you can work independently and be a part of a broader team, becoming a welder may be the right career path for you.