Welding is one of the most essential jobs in numerous industries all over the world. It plays a significant role in a number of areas. It is vital in the creation of automobiles, airplanes, aircraft, building structures, wind turbines, oil rigs, and literally, everything that is made of metal.
Welding is basically fusing separate pieces of metals together.
If you think that the job of welders is limited to the manufacturing industry only, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that welders are needed for different industries like construction, agriculture, the automotive industry, and the list goes on. It is because of the massive scope of the job that the employment rates of welders continue to soar.
When you hear the term ‘welding,’ the first thing that probably pops into your mind is a person with a big face mask, working on joining two bits of metal together. You probably also think that welding is mostly required when it comes to fixing broken pipes or making metallic frames. However, that mindset is incorrect (for the most part). Welding includes numerous types of jobs, with each requiring a unique set of skills.
We are living in a world of industrial revolutions and technological advancements, where innovations and creativity are moving at an unprecedentedly fast pace. Steel has become the primary construction material, and with that, many fabrication techniques have been developed. Earlier, rivets and bolts were the most commonly used methods of joining steel together. However, today, the process of welding has outgrown the older, more labor-intensive methods.
Like we mentioned earlier, welding jobs are not just limited to the manufacturing industry. Since this profession is so important and so expansive, let’s have a look at different types of welder jobs.
Table of Contents
- Types of Welder Jobs
- Types of Welding Job Titles
- Types of Welding
Types of Welder Jobs
Not everyone can be a good welder. It is a complicated job that requires precision, patience, and attention to detail. Different training and apprenticeship programs are available that help people learn the techniques and skills required to become a successful welder. The skills are learned through practice.
No industry can survive without the structures and equipment that are created through industrial fabrication, which, in turn, cannot exist without welding. As welding is involved in almost all industries today, each type of welder job requires a different skill set. Some welding jobs may require you to travel from place to place while some may not. There are numerous career paths you can opt for in the field of welding.
The many types of welder jobs have been listed down for your knowledge:
1. Construction Welders
Welding is one of the most important processes undertaken in the construction industry, whether it is residential construction or commercial construction. Metal is used in the construction of buildings, bridges, or in the development of civil engineering projects. Construction welders take on a reasonable magnitude of risk as this type of job requires them to work outdoors, several hundred feet above the ground. The job of construction welders is one of the highest-paid jobs in the construction industry.
You may assume that the job of construction welders in all types of constructions (residential and commercial) is the same. However, there is a significant difference between the two.
Residential construction welders are skilled in performing smaller tasks like joining pipes that carry gas or water. They have expertise in working primarily on pluming related issues in residential constructions. A commercial construction welder, on the other hand, is highly trained in doing more complex and challenging jobs. They are needed in areas that use a greater number of metal components that need to be welded. They work on technologically advanced buildings for commercial purposes where extensive plumbing designs, complex HVAC systems, and more electrical conduits are required.
The skills needed for a construction welder depends on the nature of the job that calls for their need. In any case, the job of construction welder is one of the most important types of welder jobs.
2. Manufacturing Welders
Any industry that makes products and equipment out of metal needs skilled manufacturing welders on board. The manufacturing industry is not limited to the automotive industry only but spreads to any industry that makes use of metal in their products. The most common manufacturing industries where manufacturing welders are needed include structural and agricultural metals manufacturing, mining, and of course, motor vehicle manufacturing.
Manufacturing welders are responsible for welding metal components of different types and sizes to either fix an old product or create a new one.
The quality of the metal products and equipment depends on how well has each component has been fused together, which makes the job of a manufacturing welder extremely important in the manufacturing industry.
3. Structural Steel Welders
Structural steel welders are more commonly known as the ironworkers. They are the professionals behind the assembling of constructed steel structures and frameworks. A structural steel welder is involved in the fabrication and erection of the structural framework of small and large buildings. They work for a number of industries, including construction companies, mining companies, shipbuilding companies, aerospace companies, and oil and gas companies.
The job of a structural steel welder is quite dangerous. They often work at high altitudes where the wind can blow the hanging beam and can result in serious injuries to the welder.
4. Sheet Metal Workers
A sheet metal worker is a specialist welder that is responsible for creating, installing, and repairing sheet metal products. A sheet metal worker studies the blueprints provided to them and decides the method of welding to be employed and the type of material to be used. They do the cutting and welding to prepare metal sheets of the required dimensions. Sheet metal workers install the prepared products at construction sites. If the product is in the form of separate pieces, the sheet metal workers assemble them and join them with the help of welding.
Most of the sheet metal workers are experts in maintenance work. The most common areas where a sheet metal worker is needed include the servicing of air conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems and the roofing repair.
As you can tell by the name, a boilermaker is a specialized welder that is involved in making and installing boilers and large containers that are meant to house liquids and gases. The job of boilermakers involves the assembling, installing, and repairing of closed vats, boilers, and large vessels that hold liquids and gases. Their job is physically challenging as it usually involves working in closed spaces, and in places that have very high temperatures and humidity levels.
Boilermakers usually have to travel to the site where they are needed and often have to live away from home for stretches of time. To be able to work as a professional boilermaker, one has to be trained and experienced in the field of welding as boilers are usually made of iron, copper, steel, or stainless steel.
This job includes reading blueprints, casting plates of metal and bending them into the required shapes, and welding individual pieces of metals together. These welders are also responsible for the testing and maintenance of the boilers that have been manufactured. Moreover, they are involved in upgrading the boilers to meet the standards of the industry, and hence, improve their efficiency.
Boilermakers are most often required in refineries and natural resource companies. The downside to this is that their job scope is limited to these industries only. However, they may be needed in any industry that requires boilers and large storage containers.
Other than the repair and maintenance of boilers and storage vessels, boilermakers are involved in the repairing and manufacturing of air pollution equipment, water treatment plants, blast furnaces, process and storage tanks, and smokestacks.
6. Industrial Maintenance Welders
Industries make use of machinery and equipment that see a lot of action. These pieces of equipment are hence exposed to significant wear and tear that makes them prone to damage. Industrial maintenance welders are required to look after the machinery and equipment in various industries to make sure that they do not need any immediate repairs.
An industrial maintenance welder is skilled in the job of welding and can work on repair, modification, as well as the fabrication of the facilities and equipment.
In case the equipment breaks down, it may take hours for it to be restored, which can have a major impact on productivity. Therefore, it is necessary to have industrial maintenance welders on board who can check the entire facility routinely and ensure timely repair.
7. Industrial Shutdown Welders
As mentioned earlier, the equipment used in different industries is exposed to a lot of friction and tension that results in wear and tear. This makes regular maintenance a necessity. However, sometimes, the equipment has to be completely shut down for repairs to be made. This is known as shutdown maintenance, and the welders who work on it are known as industrial shutdown welders.
Industrial shutdown welders are usually employed by the company and are not outsourced for every shutdown maintenance episode. These welders work on the plant when it is shut down, that is, not operational. The welds on the plants are inspected for any possible breaks or leakages. Shutdown maintenance could take weeks to several months, depending upon the size of the plant being inspected and the extent of repair needed.
8. Rig Welders
Oil and gas rigging is one of the biggest industries where welders are a necessary part of the workforce. Whether it is an on-land rig or an offshore site, welders are essential.
Rig welders are responsible for setting up the artificial steel island in an offshore rig and the construction of the entire on-land rig station. Rig welders are not only needed for the initial assembly of the rig but also for the everyday repair and maintenance. Rig welders have to make themselves available at all times to entertain emergency calls for repair. For this reason, rig welders are usually located on-site.
They not only facilitate the repair and maintenance but also weld collars and pipes and also perform all the functions that may require their expertise in welding.
The welders working on rigs should be physically strong and should be able to work in tough weather conditions and manage their productivity during potentially hazardous situations. Since the job of rig welders is tougher and more challenging as compared to other types of welder jobs, they are paid almost twice as much as compared to other types of welders.
Pipefitters are specialized welders that are in high demand. Industries like natural gas industries, oil and gas industries, electric, and water utility industries make use of pipelines to transport their products throughout the country and around the world. Pipefitters are the welders that work in this specialized niche.
The job of a pipefitter is often confused with that of a plumber. However, these two jobs are quite different from each other. The job of a pipefitter involves welding, which a usual plumber is not trained for.
Pipefitters are responsible for shaping metals into different dimensions and bending them to match the specifications of structures that are needed for particular industrial use. They are involved in the process, beginning from planning right up until the installation.
A pipefitter usually starts with making a blueprint of the pipe installation. They are also the ones who decide the type and the size of the pipe to be made and also determine which equipment and materials will be needed to get the job done right.
Once the pipes have been manufactured, the pipefitter will then transport these pipes to the site they are needed at and ensure that their installation is done correctly. After the installation is complete, the pipefitter then performs a series of tests before declaring the pipeline fit to be used.
The job of a pipefitter does end here. They have to inspect the pipeline for leakages and other possible damage routinely to ensure that the system is in perfect working order.
10. Motorsports Welders
Have you ever had the chance to witness a NASCAR race? Motorsports, like NASCAR, are all about cars and action. However, it is not just the car and the driver that are a part of the team, but every team participating in these sports have contributions from different professionals; welders being one of the most important ones.
Starting from the making of the racecar to its maintenance and repair after a race, motorsports welders are always on their feet. The cars that are used to participate in motorsports are unlike the usual cars you drive on the streets. They are specialty vehicles that are specifically designed to withstand the extreme pressures and tension and to deliver the highest performance.
Motorsports welders have to stay updated when it comes to the types of materials being used. Newer and more exotic metals are constantly being introduced. There are also different rules and regulations that must be followed when it comes to the types of metals used and also how they are welded. This means that it is necessary for motorsports welders to stay on the top of all new developments.
The job of motorsports welders does not just end with the development of the car. It is their responsibility to make sure that the final product ensures the driver’s safety and wellbeing. It is also on their shoulders to repair and restore the car after it has gone through several bumps and crashes during a race. This type of job may look exhilarating but is extremely risky and stressful.
11. Shipyard Welders
Welding is an integral part of the shipyard industry. It is not only employed in shipbuilding but also in repair and maintenance. This industry relies quite heavily on welding to fuse two pieces of metals in a permanent fashion to produce oil-tight and watertight joints. Welding is also one of the most time consuming and expensive part of shipbuilding. This makes shipyard welders a very significant part of the industry.
Shipyard welders do not only build ships but also inspect them regularly and get the required repairs done. Shipyard welders are needed on cargo ships, military vessels, research vessels, and for the manufacture, repair, and maintenance of all the equipment related to ships.
These welders are often required to travel between ports. Due to the nature of their job and the magnitude of their responsibilities, this type of welder job comes with a handsome pay package.
Sometimes, shipyard welders are a part of the permanent crew on a ship and travel to wherever the ship is going. They need to be on board at all times to make sure the ship is maintained impeccably even when it is at sea.
12. Military Welders
Military welders, as the name suggests, are welders that work for the military. They are involved in the army, the air force, and the navy. Military welders are different than the usual welders because they work for the military. By that, we mean that military welders have to go through basic military training, study their protocols, and be as physically fit as other military professionals.
Military welders are involved in the manufacture, repair, and maintenance of vehicles, weapons, and facilities that are in military use. They are often required to work in danger zones to weld a facility that has been damaged, repair vehicles, and even aircraft. Military welders that are associated with the navy are often required to live on the ships for long durations and look after all the maintenance and repair tasks during their time on the ship.
Military support welders are an integral part of the team that makes sure that weapons are reliable, the vehicles are perfect working order, and the facilities are fully secure and strong. This type of welder job is a high-risk job but pays well.
13. Underwater Welders
Underwater welding is, without a doubt, one of the toughest and the most dangerous occupations. It usually involves the welder either working directly in water or within a closed, dry compartment that is lowered into the water.
When an underwater welder is working in deep-sea conditions, they are exposed to water pressure so high that it could crush their body. The formation of bubbles also hinders their visibility. Underwater welders work on repairing pipelines, ships, dams, offshore oil drilling rigs, sub-sea habitats, and even nuclear power facilities.
Underwater welders may use dry welding or wet welding, depending upon the nature of the job. This type of welding is incredibly dangerous but is also one of the highest paying jobs in the field of welding.
Types of Welding Job Titles
As there are numerous types of welder jobs, so are the welding titles. Each type of welding job gives the welder a unique title based on the type of job they are doing. Some of the most common titles associated with welding jobs include:
“Welder” is a general term that has numerous types of welders under its umbrella. It covers all the types of welder jobs that have been listed above. As you know by now, a welder, in general terms, means a professional who fuses metals together. They can employ different types of welding, the most common being arc welding. Welders have knowledge about all the types of metals and the methods of welding.
2. Solderers and Brazers
Like welders, solderers and brazers make use of heat to join metals together. The difference between welding and soldering/brazing is that the latter adds a metal filler, which is an alloy to bind the two pieces of metals. The alloys that are used as filling materials have a lower melting point, and therefore, these processes are done at lower temperatures.
Cutters are professionals that cut metals into pieces of specific dimensions with the help of heat. These metals are then fused together through welding. Unlike welding, which is employed to join metals together, cutters are responsible for separating them.
4. Welding Machine Operator
Welding can be done by hand or through a welding machine. People who operate welding machines are known as welding machine operators. They have a vast knowledge of different welding techniques, welding equipment, and are skilled in operating advanced machinery. Welding machine operators are hired by larger companies that wish to switch to automated processes.
5. Welding Inspectors
Welding inspectors are exactly what the name suggests. They inspect the job that has been done by other welders. They are responsible for ensuring that the job that other welders have done is top-quality and they give the go-ahead to proceed toward the next phase of production. They conduct inspection tests with regards to the quality and strength of the welded structures.
Types of Welding
If you have developed an interest in welding and wish to start your career in the field, you may want to know about the different types of welding. Now that you know all the possible areas where you can start a career, the types of welding can give you a better idea of where you can see yourself in this industry.
1. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)
More commonly known as MIG (Metal Inert Gas), this type of welding uses a continuously fed, consumable electrode to form an electric arc between the electrode and the base material. The material is heated until it melts and joins with the other metal. This is one of the easiest welding techniques out there and is great for DIY enthusiasts and beginners.
2. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, also known as TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas), uses a tungsten electrode for the creation of an electric arc. This method uses a separate filler wire.
3. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
This is more commonly known as stick welding because it uses a stick electrode. The electrode is consumable. It is coated with a flux that produces a gas that shields the molten metal pool from environmental factors.
4. Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
Similar to SMAW, Flux-Cored Arc Welding makes use of a consumable electrode, but in this case, the electrode is continuous, and instead of being covered with flux, it has a fine metal tube that houses the flux.
5. Electron Beam Welding
Electron Beam Welding fires a ray of electrons that move at a very high velocity, at the material that is to be welded. The energy from the electrons is used to melt the sheet of metal, which can then fuse.
6. Atomic Hydrogen Welding (AHW)
This type of welding is used to weld tungsten, which is very resistant to heat. It helps in melting tungsten without damaging the metal.
7. Plasma Arc Welding
This method is great for welding small areas. It involves passing an electric current through a small nozzle that passes through protective gases. This delivers the accuracy that is needed to weld small areas.
Welding is a massive field that holds innumerable career opportunities for people who aspire to start their career in welding. The different types of welder jobs require distinct skill sets. You can opt for a type of welder job that you believe aligns well with your passion and skills.