What is the life of a Welder like?
Currently, I'm a college freshman. I'm already have a major/program of study. However, I'm exploring other careers and I saw someone suggested Welder.
Being completely unfamiliar with this field:
- What is it like to work as a Welder?
- What skills does someone learn starting off new and overtime?
- Do wielders have a flexible schedule or is it set?
- How much risk is it for physical injury?
- What is the most satisfying aspect of welding?
Thank you for your interest in learning about an industry/craft that the world has a massive shortage of. According to American Welding Society, the United States may see a big time shortage in welders in a few years.
The group gets some of its data from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), said the industry is predicting a shortage of over 375,000 skilled welding professionals by 2023.
That being said, it is a very demanding career. Now on to your questions.
What it’s like to work as a welder? Well, I tell my students it’s best full time career, part time job in the world. I say this because of our industry. I teach apprentices for a Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union. Our work comes in waves dependent on the economy and development. The job can be very demanding where deadlines have to be met. But also, some welds may be critical where the weld is of great importance and cannot have any defects. To some, that may sound too stressful, but over time and experience, it’s a cake walk.
Skills starting off. Honestly, the best avenue is a trade school, vocational school, technical college, or an apprenticeship program. I never have been exposed to welding whilst a kid. I learned in my apprenticeship and became very skilled at it. Learning different welding processes over time is the best way to expand your skillset. But there’s other career paths for welders if they do choose. One is becoming a Certified Weld Inspector through the American Welding Society. That’s where your skills as a welder start to become more involved in the inspection aspect of welds.
Schedule. That depends on the job honestly. Some welders may be fabrication welders in a shop like auto body, structural fab, aircraft welding in a shop etc. Or, in my careers case, I was a field welders on industrial and heavy commercial jobs like nuclear facilities, pharmaceuticals, semi conductor or just regular construction. We weld pipe for heating and cooling systems as well as process piping and gas piping.
Risk of injury. In any job out there, there is always a risk of injury. More specifically about this job, getting burned up. You have arc flash/burn concerns. You have hot sparks flying around you have get into the most inconvenient spots. It’s really about protecting yourself properly. That’s not the only concern though, on a job there’s a lot of other safety concerns. Moving equipment, regular job site hazards like any other construction job.
Most satisfying aspect about welding in my opinion is stepping away from a project after completion and saying that you built that system. Workers or civilians rely on that system to power their home, heat or cool their office space, or cook their favorite meals.
Believe it or not, welding has a wide range of possibilities that often get overlooked.
Best of luck on exploring this craft further and best of luck with your research.