Moraine Valley's Multi-Process Welding Certificate Program prepares the student for a career as an entry-level welder with basic knowledge of several types of welding techniques.
Nature of Work—There are about 100 different types of welding. Arc welding is the most common type. Two common but advanced types of arc welding are Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) and Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding. Skilled welding, soldering, and brazing workers generally plan work from drawings or specifications or use their knowledge of fluxes and base metals to analyze the parts to be joined. These workers then select and set up welding equipment, execute the planned welds, and examine welds to ensure that they meet standards or specifications. They are even examining the weld while they're welding. By observing problems with the weld, they compensate by adjusting the speed, voltage, amperage, or feed of the rod. Highly skilled welders often are trained to work with a wide variety of materials in addition to steel, such as titanium, aluminum, or plastics. Some welders have more limited duties, however. They perform routine jobs that already have been planned and laid out and do not require extensive knowledge of welding techniques. Welding also is used to join beams when constructing buildings, bridges, and other structures, and to join pipes in pipelines, power plants, and refineries.
Related Job Titles—Welding, soldering, and brazing workers are skilled metal workers. Other metal workers include machinists; machine setters, operators, and tenders-metal and plastic; computer control programmers and operators; tool and die makers; sheet metal workers; and boilermakers. Assemblers and fabricators of electrical and electronic equipment often assemble parts using soldering.
Employment Outlook—Job prospects should be excellent as employers report difficulty finding enough qualified people. In addition, many openings are expected to arise as a large number of workers retire over the next decade.
The major factor affecting employment of welders is the health of the industries in which they work. The manufacturing sector, which employs the most welding, soldering, and brazing workers, is expected to continue to decline as more manufacturing moves overseas. Because almost every manufacturing industry uses welding at some stage of manufacturing or in the repair and maintenance of equipment, this overall decline will affect the demand for welders, although some industries will fare better than others. The construction industry is expected to have solid growth over the next decade and an increasing demand for welders. Government funding for shipbuilding as well as for infrastructure repairs and improvements are expected to generate additional welding jobs. Pressures to improve productivity and hold down labor costs are leading many companies to invest more in automation, especially computer-controlled and robotically controlled welding machinery. This will reduce the demand for some welders, solderers, and brazers because many repetitive jobs are being automated. The growing use of automation, however, should increase demand for welding, soldering, and brazing machine setters, operators, and tenders. Welders working on construction projects or in equipment repair will not be affected by technology change to the same extent, because their jobs are often unique and not as easily automated.
Despite slower-than-average job
growth, technology is creating more uses for welding in the workplace and
expanding employment opportunities. For example, new ways are being developed to
bond dissimilar materials and nonmetallic materials, such as plastics,
composites, and new alloys. Also, laser beam and electron beam welding, new
fluxes, and other new technologies and techniques are improving the results of
welding, making it useful in a wider assortment of applications. Improvements in
technology have also boosted welding productivity, making welding more
competitive with other methods of joining materials. Median hourly earnings of
welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers were $16.13 in May 2008. The middle 50
percent earned between $13.20 and $19.61. The lowest 10 percent had earnings of
less than $10.85, while the top 10 percent earned over $24.38. The range of
earnings of welders reflects the wide range of skill levels. Median hourly
earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of welders, cutters,
solderers, and brazers in May 2008 were:
Median hourly earnings of welding, soldering, and brazing machine setters, operators, and tenders were $15.20 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.62 and $18.63. The lowest 10 percent had earnings of less than $10.47, while the top 10 percent earned over $23.92. Median hourly earnings in motor vehicle parts manufacturing, the industry employing the largest numbers of welding machine operators in May 2008, were $15.34. Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-2011.
For job listings and job search assistance, contact the Job Resource Center, S202, (708) 974-5737, www.morainevalley.edu/jrc.