The parts I work on go into airplanes, helicopters, and space shuttles. It's a pretty cool feeling knowing something I work on is going to Mars. Aerospace has very tight tolerances and there is a high priority on tracability and paperwork, so there is more of that than you would see doing most fabrication and repair work. The assemblies I make are also very tiny, we weld many of them under a microscope. It's unique, and something you are unlikely to find in many places.
The flipside is that creativity is restricted in a manufacturing setting. Your machine is set according to a schedule and your assembly is held in a fixture to reduce variance in the process. There are still oppurtunities to be creative, but they aren't behind the mask.
Welding is also a very secure profession. It's a skill that is always in demand. You may need to move around a bit but you will always be able to find a way to pay the bills. There's also a lot of learning oppurtunities. Robotics is the popular one, but it's a good base for moving into engineering or management fields as well. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Being a welder is sometimes stressful, and other times very exciting and rewarding as well.
As with any profession there are advantages and disadvantages.
Strictly pertaining to pipeline welding I’ll list some of both.
The pay is exceptionally high due to the craftsmanship it requires.
Most pipelining includes travel so you get to see many new and sometimes beautiful places.
There is almost unlimited room for advancement.
Although a huge industry, there is a network of people that you will work with from time to time at different locations therefore building a little “work family”.
There are certain times you will receive pay just for “standing by” and being ready if they need you. Free Money, if you will.
Respected for your abilities as a welder in the pipeline industry.
Long hours (min. 60 hrs week)filled with heavy manual labor at times, also accompanied by every weather element possible.
Days, months, and even sometimes years away from home and family while out on the road.
Responsibility of proving yourself every time you hire on any job ( you must take a weld test every time) and every single time you make a weld (XRAY is right behind you!!)
Most of us are changing contractor employment several times to follow the work.
You do get burned all day long by the fires of welding.
You have a financial burden of keeping all your equipment maintained and in working order everyday ( welding truck, welding machine, hand tools etc.) You must provide a lot of the everyday tools needed for your job. They are very costly tools!!
Overall, being a welder can be very rewarding. It is an “end result” job. Meaning you start with something in a certain form and when you are done it is something totally different. You can see the “end result”.
There is a lot of room for creativity in being a welder.
I hope this helps.