Welders may be employed in a number of different industries, including manufacturing and auto racing. The type of work as well as the equipment used in such industries can vary significantly. The most common type of welding that is used today is arc welding. This type of welding utilizes electrical currents in order to create heat. This bonds metals together. There are actually more than 100 different types of processes that can be used by a welder for bonding metal. The exact type of weld that is utilized is typically based on the types of metals that are to be joined together as well as the conditions under which the welder must work. For example, steel can be more easily welded than other types of metal such as titanium. Some welding process may involve the manual use of heat and rod for joining metals. Other processes are semi-automatic. Automated welding is performed by robots and is being used in an increasing manner within the manufacturing industry.
Welding, Soldering and Brazing Job Responsibilities
Brazing and soldering workers, like welders, utilize molten metal in order to join two metal pieces. The metal that is added during the brazing and soldering process features a melting point that is under 840 degrees F. Brazing utilizes metals that usually have a higher melting point. Due to the fact that brazing and soldering do not actually melt the metal pieces that are to be joined, these types of processes do not typically create weaknesses or distortions within the pieces, which can sometimes happen with welding. Soldering is frequently used in order to make electronic and electrical circuit boards, including computer chips. Soldering workers usually work with pieces that are small and must be positioned precisely. Brazing is typically used for connecting thin metals and connecting copper plumbing pipes. Brazing may also be used for applying coats to parts in order to protect against the chance of corrosion and reduce wear.
Brazing, soldering and welding workers typically plan their work from drawings that are known as blueprints. They may also utilize their existing knowledge of welding and base metals in order to best determine how to join parts. The complexity of a weld may be determined by the position, such as vertical, horizontal or overhead. The types of metals that are to be joined together can also affect the complexity of the weld. Welders that are highly skilled may be trained to work with many different types of materials such as aluminum, plastics and titanium as well as steel. Welders then choose and set-up welding equipment, execute the welds that are planned and examine the final result to be sure it meets standards and specifications.
In many production processes there is an increasing trend toward using automated welding. In this case a robot or machine performs the actual welding task while a machine operator monitors the task.
Brazing, soldering and welding workers are frequently exposed to numerous hazards, including materials that are very hot as well as the intense light that is created by the welding arc. For protection, they wear goggles, safety shoes, masks, protective lenses and other safety gear. Welders are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to work in areas that are safety ventilated.
Many welders work outdoors and may work in inclement weather. They may also work in confined areas or on high platforms or scaffolding. Welders must be able to lift heavy items and work in awkward positions while stooping, bending or standing.
Most welders work a standard 40 hour work week; however, overtime is fairly common in this profession.
Welding, Soldering and Brazing Training and Education Requirements
Training for soldering, brazing and welding workers can range from just a few weeks or may include training on the job. Formal training may be offered in high school as well as post-secondary institutions such as vocational-technical schools and community colleges. Soldering and welding schools are also operated by the U.S. Armed Forces. In some cases, employers may be willing to hire entry-level workers with no experience and train them while they are on the job, although most prefer to employer workers who have already attended a formal training program. Common courses include shop math, blueprint reading, chemistry, physics, mechanical drawing and metallurgy.
Welding, Soldering and Brazing Salary and Wages
In 2008 the median wages for solderers, brazers, cutters and welders were $16.13 per hour.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Welding, Soldering and Brazing Certifications
General certifications are required for some positions in the welding industry, particularly when robotic welding or inspection is required. At numerous welding schools certification courses are offered through the American Welding Society. In addition, an increasing number of employers have actually developed their own certification tests. Training and certifications are also offered in soldering through the Institute for Printed Circuits. In the defense and aerospace industries, an increasing number of employers now require certifications due to the high degree of skilled and accurate work that is required.
Welding, Soldering and Brazing Professional Associations
Approximately 20% of welders are members of labor unions. Other options for professional membership include the American Welding Society.