In Summary - Welder
Welders typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Welder
Welders can use manual techniques to do a large amount of welding. They use an electric arc (the bright, hot area between the electrode tip and the metal) or a gas flame to melt the metal in the joint. There are four main manual welding processes. In manual metal arc welding (MMA), welders strike an arc between the metal rod and the work piece; both melt to form a weld pool. The flux covering on the rod melts to form gas and slag, which protect the weld pool until it has cooled.
Oxy-acetylene (OA) relies on the combustion of oxygen and acetylene to form a very hot flame. In metal inert gas welding (MIG), welders use an inert gas to protect the arc and weld pool. Welders use the similar tungsten inert gas (TIG) method to join magnesium and aluminium.
Welders follow technical drawings or instructions, and work out the best position to adopt and the best angle to work at. They may rehearse a difficult weld, going through the motions to be sure they can hold the position. They prepare and clean the surface that they will weld. They fit the appropriate weld torch nozzle or electrode, set the current, switch on and strike the arc, and start to weld.
Welds may be horizontal or vertical, at an angle, on a curve, or encircling a big pipe. Welders may work from above, beside or below the weld and sometimes in very awkward and cramped spaces. Safety is vital to welding, so inspectors may check completed welds by using X-ray, ultrasonic or dye-testing techniques. If they discover cracks, porosity or other flaws, the welders have to ground out the weld and do the job again.
As well as manual techniques, some types of welding are mechanised or done by robots, especially in industries that produce items on a large scale, like the motor industry. Here, technicians set up the machines, which the welders then operate. There are other, more specialist welding processes like laser welding, electron beam welding and solid state welding. Highly skilled welders are often trained to work with materials like titanium, aluminium and plastic.
At graduate level entry to The Welding Institute, engineers and technicians are involved in research and development departments, where they work on a very wide variety of projects. They help to solve problems in design, materials selection, production processes and systems, repairs and inspections. They may research and develop high power lasers to help industry in welding, cutting and drilling. In materials research, materials engineers look at how metals behave (for example, in terms of corrosion), and the effects of welding on the properties and structure of materials.
They may work to improve the reliability of joining plastics; this is essential in the automotive and aerospace industries for example. Welding engineers may act as consultants, giving advice to manufacturing industries on equipment and systems. Welders have helped to develop intelligent robotics for welding.
They usually wear protective clothing. It can be very noisy, so welders may wear ear protectors.
Interests - Welder
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
To be a manual welder, you must be able to work with great accuracy, very steady hands and the ability to concentrate exclusively on the weld for the duration of a 'run' (up to five minutes).
Good eyesight and hearing (to detect variations in the buzz and crackle of the arc) are important. You need physical fitness to lift and carry equipment, climb ladders and crawl into cramped spaces.
You must be able to work without close supervision. You need to be able to follow technical instructions carefully, and follow safety procedures at all times.
Entry Requirements - Welder
Pay & Salary - Welder
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 20k - 86k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Welder
This occupation has experienced strong employment growth in recent years. Employers have indicated a significant difficulty in sourcing suitably qualified welders. The difficult to fill relates to companies that are supplying products for the high tech manufacturing sector.
National Skills Bulletin 2018