Career and Job Search Guide

Welding, Soldering and Brazing Workers

Welders use heat to fuse pieces of metal together. Since welding bonds are so strong, welders are used in ship, plane, and car manufacturing. Beams used in skyscrapers, other large buildings, and bridges are welded together.

Welders can utilize more than 80 unique welding procedures. Welders usually choose between two types of welding processes: manual welding, where a welder manually controls the welding equipment, and semiautomatic welding, where the welder uses sophisticated equipment like a wire feeder to weld.

Welders frequently utilize arc welding techniques. Arc welders attach an electrically charged alligator clip to the metal being welded and to the welding rod which initiates a strong electrical circuit. The newly created electrical current produces enough heat to fuse metal parts. The rate at which a welding job is performed at determines how strong the welding bond is.

Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding and Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding, technological advanced techniques, are frequently utilized by welders. Welders utilize TIG welding techniques when fusing aluminum or stainless steel. To perform this type of welding, a welder uses a welding electric torch and rod, and then the welder melts the metal and rod at the same time. Welders performing MIG welds use a constantly fed coil of wire rather than a rod, permitting the welder to fuse lengthy pieces of metal without pausing to get a new rod.

Brazing and soldering welding professionals weld with molten metal, and since the melting point of added metal is lower than metal being welded, melting only occurs in the added metal. If a welder is soldering, he or she use metals with melting points lower than 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Metal that is soldered or brazed is not melted, so metal is not weakened or misshaped. Soldering is usually performed on electrical components or small pieces of metal. Since brazing creates firmer joints than soldering, it is utilized to fuse brass and other non-steel metals. Brazing is used to develop non-corrosive coverings.

Brazing, soldering, and welding professionals utilize blueprints or other written plans in conjunction with their knowledge to determine the best strategy for completing a quality weld. The types of metals used and the location of the weld determine the difficulty of a project. Welders with exceptional talents are trained to weld steel, aluminum, and titanium. After blueprints have been reviewed, welders complete their welds and examine them for quality and durability.

By recognizing defects during the actual welding, welders can alter the procedure. Unskilled welders, or those with little training, usually have basic welding responsibilities.

More welders are now using automated welding technology. When this technology is used, welders monitor the machines. Brazing, soldering, and welding professionals must follow detailed blueprints when coordinating a project. Machines must be loaded correctly and constantly monitored to ensure quality work.

Oxy gas, plasma, and arc cutters perform similar work as welders, but these professionals use ionized gas, also known as plasma, to alter the shape of metals or take apart airplanes, ships, and other large objects made of metal. Some monitor equipment that performs the cutting. More industrial firms use plasma cutting since this method enables them to cut more types of metal, such as titanium and aluminum.

Work environment. Brazing, soldering, and welding professionals work in conditions where they could be burned or injured from the arc light, so they must wear safety glasses, helmets with special lenses, and other safety clothing, but they conduct their welds in properly ventilated buildings. Those who work with automated welding machines do not work in as dangerous conditions, but they must follow safety precautions and wear proper protective gear.

Welders sometimes work outdoors in poor weather. If they are working outside, they may have to stand on a scaffold, lift heavy objects while positioned awkwardly, and reach over their head to weld.

Half of all welding professionals work 40 hour weeks, often working overtime. 25 percent work 50 hours or more every week, and some work 12 hour shifts or work in shops that work 24 hours a day.