Welding is a complicated chemical process in which two pieces of metal are fused together by use of heat applied and focused on a specific area. Welders are quite useful and important in all things related to Construction. They must use their knowledge of metallurgy and chemistry in order to place metal pieces together according to the construction plans for them to be solid enough to withstand the weight of heavy structures, such as houses and buildings. Welders may use specialized torches designed to burn sheets of metal in order to cut them apart.
The tools and techniques used by a Welder may vary greatly depending on the type of metal they’re fusing due to the fact that different metals may have different properties and qualities, which may affect the necessary temperature and method of fusing. Some Welders are even trained and specialized in working underwater.
Like in all Construction jobs, Welders need to pay special attention to safety procedures and protocols. The tools they use on a daily basis can be quite hazardous if used improperly or without enough attention.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Welders are required to complete.
- Welding pieces of metal in different positions according to the design:
- Analyzing and understanding the design prior to welding;
- understanding the properties and qualities of the types of metal that will be used during construction;
- determining the necessary tools and techniques to weld the metal at hand;
- examining metal pieces to check that there are no dents or other defects;
- positioning, aligning, and securing all metal pieces according to design prior to welding;
- preparing the corresponding tools by selecting and igniting the correct type of torch and welding machine for the specific type of metal;
- using the necessary tools and techniques to weld and fuse two or more pieces of metal together; and
- monitoring equipment and metals being welded to avoid overheating, damage, and potential hazards.
- Using specialized tools and machinery to hold, bend, cut, or otherwise modify metals into the desired shape, size, and position for welding.
- Following safety procedures and protocols to the letter in order to avoid health risks and hazards:
- Using the mandatory safety equipment (e.g. welding helmet, gloves, and overall suit); and
- using the welding equipment in accordance to safety and health regulations.
- Advising the Construction Manager on any requirements for maintenance or repairs, completing written reports as required.
- Analyzing and understanding blueprints and designs.
- Understanding the characteristics and properties of the types of metals that will be used.
- Following all safety and health procedures to avoid accidents and hazards.
- Selecting the best type of equipment and method to weld specific metals.
- Preparing and mounting pieces of metal according to the design and welding them together.
The average Welder salary is $43,141 per year or $22 per hour. This is around 1.3 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $30,000 while most experienced workers make up to $60,000. These results are based on 1,703 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly in order to create a clear and communicative environment with coworkers, as well as being able to interpret and use hand signals when working in environments with high levels of noise; and
- reading and interpreting technical documents including safety rules, blueprints, welding manuals, and metallurgic documents.
- Self-reliable and capable of working independently and without the help of others.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to manage time efficiently while handling a high volume of work;
- multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment; and
- being able to maintain accurate records.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Approaching tasks in a reliable, resourceful, and safety-oriented manner;
- identifying issues and key hazards and resolving problems in a timely manner; and
- being able to exercise mature judgment.
- Exceptional attention to detail with a strong focus on safety:
- Wearing respirators, welding helmets, protective gloves, and overall suits;
- constantly asking oneself what could go wrong and learning to anticipate potential problems; and
- never taking nor tolerating shortcuts.
- Manual dexterity, motor coordination, and physical strength:
- Displaying good hand skills with a high regard for neat workmanship;
- being able to move around construction sites and to lift or carry objects weighing up to 50 pounds;
- being able to stand, crouch, kneel, and bend for extensive periods of time; and
- being comfortable working at heights.
Welding is not nearly as easy as some people think, there is more to it than just sticking a sparking rod between two pieces of metal. In order to become a professional Welder, aspirants must first complete a specialized program at an accredited academic institution or vocational school. These courses are often 3 years long and involve as much theory as practice. Students learn to distinguish the different types of metal that can be used or welded together for construction purposes. These courses can also be on the form of apprenticeship programs; taking more emphasis on practice by shadowing an already certified Welder.
In Alberta, all Welders are required by law to possess provincial certification. This can be obtained at the Alberta Boilers Safety Association (ABSA) by completing and submitting the necessary paperwork. Registration in other provinces and territories is not mandatory, but highly recommended nevertheless.
Welders may also choose to take the necessary examination to obtain the Red Seal, a certificate of interprovincial and territorial standard of quality. Having a Red Seal certification will allow Welders to work all throughout the country without limitations. It also serves as a stamp of quality for the work they do.
There are also many other certifications that Welders may acquire in order to work with specific materials or under special conditions (e.g. underwater, in high altitudes, or enclosed spaces). The Canadian Welding Bureau offers a list of available courses and certifications for Welders.