Planning a career in welding: A young person's guide

WWW.THEFABRICATOR.COM JULY 2007

July 10, 2007

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Welding can be a rewarding career. To be successful and satisfied in welding or any career requires planning, preparation, and pursuing a job you love. This article provides an overview of welding as a career, describes different opportunities, and lists resources that can help you to become a welder.

Welder image

You can embark on a successful career even before beginning work by choosing a profession that fills your heart with enthusiasm, setting the career goals you want to reach, and outlining the steps necessary to achieve the goals within a reasonable time frame.

Embarking on a lifetime career in any profession is not something that should be left to chance. Research, vision, thought, planning, and determination are important factors that help create positive feelings and improve quality of life for years to come.

You should be aware of the importance of your attitude toward your future productivity. In fact, an unlucky career choice and lack of will can cause unhappiness and frustration.

Work can be a pleasure instead of drudgery, if you love what you're doing.

Welding as a Career Choice

Welding, sometimes described more as an art than as a craft, is a modern profession with many faces and levels. It should not be surprising that it appeals to many young and not so young people, male and female alike.

Welding is changing. It is adapting, dynamic, and challenging. It applies new knowledge and scientific principles, and it constantly is expanding its frontiers.

Many opportunities are available to inquisitive people in mainstream welding and various auxiliary fields. Working in this profession can be as exciting and satisfying as you are prepared to make it, if you practice it successfully and love it.

Welding is an occupation with growth. Welders are never satisfied with what they know now—skills already mastered and tips already owned; they should continue to learn throughout their careers.

Opportunities in Welding

Experts predict a large shortage of capable manufacturing workers in the next few years almost everywhere, and many companies now report difficulty finding welders. The American Welding Society (AWS) predicts that by 2010, the demand for skilled welders in the U.S. alone may outpace supply by 200,000 individuals.

Prospective welders are enticed and courted to learn welding. New schools, training facilities, and educational programs are being established. Many institutions and universities have initiated apprenticeships.

Scholarships, bonuses, tuition reimbursement offers, and salaries on par with those of newly graduated engineers are only a sample of the benefits now offered by industry to encourage and recruit new welders. It also appears that newly certified welders will enjoy guaranteed job placement.

Anyone concerned with selecting a career for life should know that now is indeed the right time to grab the great opportunity to become part of the large welding family.

You can obtain a general overview of welding by visiting schools and laboratories, exhibitions, industries, and workshops; by reading books and magazines; and by talking with experienced welders. Your research can help you make an intelligent decision about whether welding is for you.

The following online page provides links to information on careers in welding:

www.aws.org

Know the Dangers

You also must understand the dangers of welding, not only those created by the energy involved. Workers sometimes weld while sitting on a narrow beam between sky and earth on high-rise constructions; cramped in uncomfortable positions into tiny quarters; or deep under water. Give some thought to where you want to work.

Certifications

Specific training is required to learn and practice the skills needed for the various welding processes. Qualifying trainees are requested to pass examinations and become certified in the particular field they choose before being able to apply for certain jobs.

A certification is your passport to more demanding and better-paying jobs. You can accumulate any number and type of certifications, demonstrating expertise and versatility. The more certifications you earn, the better, even if you will not be jumping from process to process, except when needed.

In due time, a well-conceived collection of certificates, together with documented experience, lead to supervisory posts with more responsibility and better pay.

Skilled welders are the natural candidates to learn the knowledge needed to program, operate, and maintain complex robotic welding cells. Good operators will be much in demand, because automated and robotic welding are perceived as suitable tools for combating the increasing skilled manual welder shortage.

Being a skilled welder with experience can easily pave the way to a new career as a teacher and trainer. It also is good preparation for becoming a welding inspector, although you will have to learn new specific knowledge to be certified, especially in one or more nondestructive testing disciplines.

If you choose to work in quality control, you may become involved in work performed in specially equipped laboratories and be assigned to destructive test specimens.

A sound welding background can be a significant advantage for those who pursue careers in equipment and consumable sales, jobs that sometimes require consulting and solving practical manufacturing problems.

You should know as early as practical what you want to achieve in life and how to get there. Plan from the start for the necessary stages (courses, certifications, degrees) by establishing realistic goals and precise timetables.

To have a successful welding career, you must be willing to enrich your knowledge and acquire new experiences continually; to try new things; to accept additional and more demanding responsibilities; and to look for new challenges that will increase you expertise. A career is a never-ending pursuit.



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