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Become A Welder Operator

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Working As A Welder Operator

  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • $32,578

    Average Salary

What Does A Welder Operator Do

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join or cut metal parts. They also fill holes, indentations, or seams of metal products.

Duties

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers typically do the following:

  • Study blueprints, sketches, or specifications
  • Calculate dimensions to be welded
  • Inspect structures or materials to be welded
  • Ignite torches or start power supplies
  • Monitor the welding process to avoid overheating
  • Maintain equipment and machinery

Welding is the most common way of permanently joining metal parts. In this process, heat is applied to metal pieces, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond. Because of its strength, welding is used in shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing and repair, aerospace applications, and thousands of other manufacturing activities. Welding also is used to join steel beams in the construction of buildings, bridges, and other structures and to join pipes in pipelines, power plants, and refineries.

Welders work in a wide variety of industries, from car racing to manufacturing. The work that welders do and the equipment they use vary with the industry. Arc welding, the most common type of welding today, uses electrical currents to create heat and bond metals together—but there are more than 100 different processes that a welder can use. The type of weld normally is determined by the types of metals being joined and the conditions under which the welding is to take place.

Cutters use heat to cut and trim metal objects to specific dimensions. The work of arc, plasma, and oxy–gas cutters is closely related to that of welders. However, instead of joining metals, cutters use the heat from an electric arc, a stream of ionized gas called plasma, or burning gases to cut and trim metal objects to specific dimensions. Cutters also dismantle large objects, such as ships, railroad cars, automobiles, buildings, and aircraft. Some operate and monitor cutting machines similar to those used by welding machine operators.

Solderers and brazers also use heat to join two or more metal objects together. Soldering and brazing are similar, except that the temperature used to melt the filler metal is lower in soldering. Soldering uses metals with a melting point below 840 degrees Fahrenheit. Brazing uses metals with a higher melting point. 

Soldering and brazing workers use molten metal to join two pieces of metal. However, the metal added during the soldering or brazing process has a melting point lower than that of the piece, so only the added metal is melted, not the piece. Therefore, these processes normally do not create distortions or weaknesses in the piece, as can occur with welding.

Soldering commonly is used to make electrical and electronic circuit boards, such as computer chips. Soldering workers tend to work with small pieces that must be positioned precisely.

Brazing often is used to connect cast iron and thinner metals that the higher temperatures of welding would warp. Brazing also can be used to apply coatings to parts in order to reduce wear and protect against corrosion.

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How To Become A Welder Operator

A high school diploma or equivalent combined with technical and on-the-job training is typically required to become a welder, cutter, solderer, or brazer.

Education & Training

A high school diploma or equivalent combined with technical and on-the-job training is typically required to become a welder, cutter, solderer, or brazer. High school technical education courses and postsecondary institutions, such as vocational–technical institutes, community colleges, and private welding, soldering, and brazing schools offer formal technical training. In addition, the U.S. Armed Forces operate welding and soldering schools.

Courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, physics, chemistry, and metallurgy are helpful.

An understanding of electricity also is helpful, and knowledge of computers is gaining importance as welding, soldering, and brazing machine operators become more responsible for programming robots and other computer-controlled machines.

Although numerous employers are willing to hire inexperienced entry-level workers and train them on the job, many prefer to hire workers who have been through training or credentialing programs. Even entry-level workers with formal technical training still receive several months of on-the-job training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Courses leading to certification are offered at many welding schools. For example, the American Welding Society offers the Certified Welder and Certified Welding Fabricator designations.

Some welding positions require general certification in welding or certification in specific skills, such as Certified Welding Inspector or Certified Robotic Arc Welding.

The Institute for Printed Circuits offers certification and training in soldering. In industries such as aerospace and defense, which need highly skilled workers, many employers require these certifications. Certification can show mastery of lead-free soldering techniques, which are important to many employers.

Some employers pay the cost of training and testing for employees.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers perform precision work, often with straight edges and minimal flaws. The ability to see details and characteristics of the joint and detect changes in molten metal flows requires good eyesight and attention to detail.

Manual dexterity. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must have a steady hand to hold a torch in one place. Workers must also have good hand-eye coordination.

Physical stamina. The ability to endure long periods of standing or repetitious movements is important for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers.

Physical strength. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be in good physical condition. They often must lift heavy pieces of metal and move welding or cutting equipment, and sometimes bend, stoop, or reach while working.

Spatial-orientation skills. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to read, understand, and interpret two- and three-dimensional diagrams in order to fit metal products correctly.

Technical skills. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to operate manual or semiautomatic welding equipment to fuse metal segments.

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Welder Operator jobs

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Welder Operator Career Paths

Welder Operator
Structural Welder Welder Fitter Numerical Control Operator
2nd Shift Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Computer Numerical Controller Machinist Machine Shop Supervisor
Assembly Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Press Operator Numerical Control Operator Computer Numerical Controller Machinist
Computer Numerical Controller Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Welder Driver Field Supervisor
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Operator Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Forklift Operator Carpenter
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Operator Foreman
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Welder Operator
Lead Operator
5 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor Production Manager
Manufacturing Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Operator Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Manufacturing Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Foreman General Foreman
Piping Superintendent
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Technician Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Welder Fitter Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Production Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Welder Fitter Foreman Maintenance Technician
Production Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Engineer Project Engineer
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Press Operator Security Officer Safety Officer
Safety Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Foreman Inspector
Senior Inspector
7 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Material Handler Welder
Shop Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Welder Millwright General Foreman
Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Delivery Driver Welder
Welding Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Journeyman Welder 4.7 years
Welder/Machinist 3.9 years
Welder First Class 3.8 years
Pipefitter/Welder 3.6 years
Lead Welder 3.6 years
Welder Fitter 3.5 years
Welder 3.4 years
Boilermaker Welder 3.4 years
Maintenance Welder 3.3 years
Millwright/Welder 3.2 years
Combination Welder 3.1 years
Machine Operator 3.0 years
Welder Operator 3.0 years
Welder-Assembler 2.9 years
Cell Operator 2.9 years
Ironworker/Welder 2.8 years
TIG Welder 2.8 years
Operator 2.8 years
Metal Fabricator 2.7 years
Robot Operator 2.6 years
Machine Welder 2.5 years
Industrial Welder 2.5 years
Structural Welder 2.5 years
MIG Welder 2.5 years
Combo Welder 2.5 years
Spot Welder 2.4 years
Steel Welder 2.3 years
Molder Operator 2.1 years
Tank Welder 2.1 years
Robotic Welder 2.1 years
Welder Apprentice 1.6 years
Welder Assistant 1.4 years
Welder Helper 1.4 years
Tack Welder 1.4 years
Top Employers Before
Welder 29.5%
Operator 5.0%
Cashier 4.8%
Assembler 2.9%
Mechanic 2.9%
Supervisor 2.8%
Driver 2.3%
Top Employers After
Welder 32.9%
Operator 6.5%
Mechanic 3.2%
Foreman 3.1%
Driver 3.0%
Supervisor 2.6%

Welder Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

83.5%

Female

15.5%

Unknown

1.0%
Ethnicity

White

81.8%

Hispanic or Latino

10.0%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.0%

Czech

13.3%

Portuguese

6.7%

Dutch

6.7%

French

6.7%

Slovak

6.7%

Russian

6.7%

Polish

6.7%

Thai

6.7%
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Welder Operator Education

Schools

Tulsa Welding School

17.6%

University of Northwestern Ohio

6.8%

University of Phoenix

5.4%

Somerset Community College

5.4%

Hinds Community College

4.1%

Everest Institute

4.1%

Pennsylvania College of Technology

4.1%

Middle Tennessee State University

4.1%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

4.1%

Northwood University

4.1%

Saginaw Valley State University

4.1%

Ohio State University

4.1%

Yuba College

4.1%

Hennepin Technical College

4.1%

American InterContinental University

4.1%

Oakland Community College

4.1%

Gadsden State Community College

4.1%

Sinclair Community College

4.1%

Kaplan University

4.1%

Greenville Technical College

4.1%
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Majors

Precision Metal Working

33.6%

Business

12.2%

Automotive Technology

8.2%

General Studies

5.6%

Industrial Technology

5.0%

Criminal Justice

4.5%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.4%

Electrical Engineering

3.2%

Education

2.9%

Computer Science

2.6%

Mechanical Engineering

2.4%

Nursing

2.1%

Health Care Administration

2.1%

Engineering

2.1%

Accounting

2.1%

Graphic Design

1.9%

Mechatronics And Robotics

1.6%

Communication

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.6%

Apparel And Textiles

1.3%
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Degrees

Other

51.6%

Associate

16.5%

Certificate

14.2%

Bachelors

11.6%

Diploma

3.9%

Masters

1.6%

Doctorate

0.5%
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Internship
Temporary

Top Skills for A Welder Operator

InspectPartsMIGSafetyEquipmentHeavyEquipmentPlasmaArcTIGHandToolsAluminumQualityChecksLoadPartsLayoutPaperworkPreventativeMaintenanceSet-UpEnsureConformanceAssemblyLineStainlessSteelCNCSmawFlux

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Top Welder Operator Skills

  1. Inspect Parts
  2. MIG
  3. Safety Equipment
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Repair, hand weld, metal finish, and inspect parts when needed.
  • Repair of incorrect welds using manual Mig welding equipment.
  • Observe and obey all safety rules, regulations and practices and employ all safety equipment and devices.
  • Operated and maintained Heavy equipment; repaired and rebuilt machinery; prepared and performed heavy structural welding repairs
  • Team lead of First aid /first responder Tiger team.

Top Welder Operator Employers

Welder Operator Videos

Optimize Welding Output, Productivity and Flexibility with Miller Dual Operator Welder/Generator

So you want to work on the pipeline?

A Day in the Life of a Welder/Pipefitter

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