Career Information for a Degree in Welding Technology
Welding occurs on construction sites, in factories and other settings. Professionals with welding skills use intense heat to join pieces of metal together. Individuals can find careers as welders, welding machine operators or boilermakers after completing an educational program, on-the-job training or an apprenticeship. Read on to learn more.
Careers for Welding Technology Graduates
Welders use a variety of techniques, like arc welding (which uses electrified metal clips with an extremely high charge to join metal parts together) in manufacturing and other related settings. These skilled workers are typically employed in manufacturing industries, but they can also be found working in auto body shops, for construction companies or in other industries.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that although overall employment for these workers will decline by two percent over the 2008-2018 decade, the number of available jobs and ability of a welder to secure a job may be better for those who have up-to-date skills (www.bls.gov). In May 2010, 314,260 welders were employed nationwide. The median hourly wage for these individuals was $17.96 per hour, or $37,370 annually, according to the BLS.
Welding Machine Operators
Sometimes, machines or robots do the actual welding. In these situations, welding machine operators use certain programs to ensure that these welding machines are functioning correctly. They place parts in the machines for welding, as well as troubleshooting and fixing minor problems during operation. Welding machine operators must be able to read and understand work orders and blueprints, which may include welding-specific symbols.
The BLS notes that employment in this field was also expected to decline, by seven percent, during the 2008-2018 decade. In May 2010, 38,530 individuals were working as welding machine operators, according to the BLS. The median hourly wage for these employees was $16.26 an hour, or $35,220 annually, the BLS noted.
Boilermakers are responsible for creation, installation and repair of large containers to heat fluids or contain gaseous materials. These vessels may be used to store chemicals or liquids, or to create power by heating water or other liquids, according to the BLS. These professionals may be responsible for maintenance of these large containers as well. Boilermakers use acetylene torches to weld pieces of metal together to create the boiler or storage container. Apprenticeships are often required and may be found through the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers or other professional organizations.
The American Welding Society (AWS) offers a Certified Welder (CW) professional designation that is performance-based. To earn this certification, an individual must demonstrate their skills by performing specific types of welds that will be judged on their quality. Every six months, a certified welder must submit to the AWS a certification maintenance form.
Welding technology degree programs teach students arc welding, resistance welding, brazing and soldering, as well as cutting, heat-treating and metallurgy. Students gain knowledge of electrical systems, power sources and different welding technologies, as well as the use and interpretation of visual symbols related to welding. Specific classes in a welding technology degree program might include technical math, hydraulic systems and blueprint interpretation.
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