In the modern world, many people forget that welding, and other trades, can be optimal career choices for lots of people. You don’t need to earn a four-year college degree or take on a lifetime of debt to land a solid job. Welding provides a decent wage, good benefits, and allows you to practice an essential skill that is overlooked in the workforce today. But it’s a dangerous job, so are you up for it?
In this article, we’re going to break down the essential skills, welding supplies, equipment, and knowledge needed to become a welder and to weld safely. This includes the supplies themselves, years of training, in-the-field experience, and more. But when it’s all said and done, you’ll find yourself with a fulfilling, unique skill set that could lead to a rewarding and lengthy career.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of welders, and other similar career fields, is expected to grow 2 percent between 2021 and 2031. This is a slower rate than the average for all other occupations.
But perhaps after you and others learn what all goes into becoming a welder, that number will go up as more talented individuals enter the field. There’s a lot of pressure to go to college these days, but many don’t understand how welding can be an equally reliable career path. But this career does require a wealth of safety equipment and knowledge about using it properly. Keep reading to learn more about these essentials when welding.
First, How Do I Become A Welder?
First, you have to have some education. But you don’t need a four-year college degree or even an associate’s degree. What is required is to have a high school diploma or an equivalent, as well as preferably some technical training experience in the field through a school-based program, apprenticeship, or another program.
There are vocational or technical institutes that prospective welders can attend to learn about the craft and achieve some formal training. But often, employers are willing to train new welders on the job as long as they have a diploma and some vested interest in the field.
Most require some sort of prior training, which includes education about important safety equipment every welder must master before taking on a project. It may take several months or even years of on-the-job training to be considered a bona fide professional welder.
Are There Different Types of Welding?
What welders make depends on the specific title of their job or the type of welding they perform. According to the New England Institute of Technology, there are four main types of welding, which are explained using their words below:
Gas Metal Arc Welding
“This process uses a thin wire as an electrode. The wire heats up as it is fed through the welding instrument and towards the welding site. Shielding gas must be used to protect the weld from contaminants in the air.”
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding
“This type of welding is commonly used to weld together thin and non-ferrous materials like aluminum, copper, lead, or nickel. It’s commonly applied to bicycle or aircraft manufacturing.”
Shielded Metal Arc Welding
“This type relies on a manual technique using a consumable electrode coated in flux. This method tends to be most popular among home-shop welders.”
Flux Cored Arc Welding
“This type of welding revolves around a continuous wire feed process. There are two separate processes associated with flux-cored arc welding. One involves the use of shielding gas while the other relies on self-shielding agents produced when fluxing agents decompose within the wire.”
But in general, the average welder makes roughly $47,010 per year. This is comparable to other jobs that require degrees. Plus, you won’t have a lifetime of debt hanging over your head.
Plus, you have the ability to make more money the longer you are a welder, or if you decide to specialize in a different field within weldings, such as underwater welding or other highly specified positions. If you learn as you go, you can steer your career toward the type of welding you enjoy the most.
What Safety Supplies Are Essential for Welders?
Because welding is using bright, white-hot torches to mold metals together, it’s important for any welder to protect his body. A welder is only as talented as he is available to work. Below we break down some key pieces of equipment every welder should have at their disposal.
- Welding Gloves – Protecting your hands is a must since they’re often going to be close to hot, active torches and liquifying metal. Your hands make and break whether you can do a job or not. Don’t be reckless, and get some certified welding gloves.
- A Welding Helmet (with Eye Protection) – A fortified welding helmet or face shield is crucial for being able to see your projects. Because the flare can permanently damage your eyes, and sparks and other hot materials can burn your face, you need equipment that covers both. Hit two birds with one stone by getting a helmet with a built-in face shield and eye protection.
- Heat Resistant Jacket – It’s best to cover your extremities as much as you can. It will get really hot during a large number of your projects, so investing in a heat-resistant welding jacket will have you ready to go to battle in your next weld. This will protect your skin from sparks, heat, radiation, and more. Plus, you’ll feel like a certified welder.
- Welding Pants – You’ll want the pants to match. They provide the same protection as your jacket and will save your nice pants from getting exposed to any potential damage.
- Welding Boots – You’re starting to get the picture here. Everything needs to be protected when you’re operating with dangerous materials and pieces of equipment. Things fall, you can drop your torch, etc. Make sure your feet are protected from both impact and heat.
- A Respirator – Burning metal fumes and gasses from welding projects are not good for your lungs. It can lead to you passing out, which is dangerous in an active welding situation or cause long-lasting health issues. Make sure you’re protecting the inside of your body as well. Some helmets include respiratory protection, which could save you some money.
- Ear Protection – If your welding helmet doesn’t completely cover your head, consider getting some ear protection, like muffs or plugs. Not only will they heat up, but welding can be loud and damage your hearing.
Welding is a very solid career choice for those who want to build or work with their hands. It’s an essential, but dangerous, skill in the workforce today. Make sure to load up on the essentials before entering the world of welding, but usually training programs will cover this as you work on projects as a trainee.
Also, it’s never too late to beef up your welding protection equipment. Upgrade your helmet or gloves today to avoid potentially painful or dangerous experiences later.