What does a Welder do?
Welders, often known as welder fabricators, cut, shape and join materials to make products and components in a wide variety of industries including construction, shipbuilding, engineering, transport, power, automotive, aerospace, and offshore oil and gas. They also work in these industries carrying out repair and maintenance of equipment and machinery.
Although welders primarily work with metals and alloys, they can also cut and join composite materials.
Welders use a range of welding and cutting techniques in their role. Some common methods include:
- oxyacetylene – technique using a mixture of oxygen and acetylene
- MIG (metal inert gas) / MMA (manual metal arc) – also known as arc welding, is basic hand welding/cutting using electric arc equipment and a welding rod
- TIG (tungsten inert gas) – welding with nitrogen or carbon dioxide, in a tightly controlled manner, using the inert gas to shield the welding process and protect the strength of the metals being joined
- laser welding – using laser tools to produce very precise cuts/joins
- ultrasonic welding – using high frequency sound waves to melt composites or thermoplastic components, often found in automated assembly processes.
Typical tasks include:
- selecting, laying out and positioning materials to be cut or joined paying close attention to engineering drawings, templates and specifications
- using the appropriate methods outlined above to produce sections or make repairs
- inspecting and testing cuts, joins and tolerances using callipers, micrometers and other precision measuring instruments
- operating mechanised welding equipment, usually on high volume production lines.
Welders would not be expected to be proficient in every type of weld as different methods suit different industries and companies.
What's the working environment like working as a Welder?
Welders normally work 37 to 40 hours a week. Shiftwork is common and overtime may be necessary to meet deadlines.
Many welders work in factory workshops, however, some working conditions may be cramped, for example, in the bottom of a ship’s hull. Outdoor work may be required if welding sections of pipeline or process plant.
Protective clothing including head-shield, overalls, apron and gloves are worn. In some situations they might need to use specialist safety equipment, for example breathing apparatus for underwater work, or safety harnesses if working at heights.
What does it take to become a Welder?
To be a welder you should:
- have good hand-to-eye coordination
- be able to work very accurately and have good concentration levels
- have the ability to work without direct supervision
- have excellent technical knowledge and awareness of material properties under different conditions
- be able to understand technical plans and specifications
- have good near vision
- have good numeracy skills to calculate tolerances and measurements
- be aware of safe working practices.
Welder Career Opportunities
There are opportunities to work in a wide range of industries such as civil engineering, engineering construction, agricultural engineering, shipbuilding, vehicle manufacture and repair, as well as the opportunity to work abroad on overseas construction projects.
In companies employing teams of welders, promotion may be possible to foreman/woman and supervisor, or to fabrication workshop manager. Some welders move into inspection, quality control and non-destructive testing. See profile for Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Technician.
If you would like to know anything about Welder that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below. Engineering Construction Industry Training Board
Tel: 01923 260000
www.ecitb.org.uk Engineering Training Council
20-24 York Street
Tel: 028 9032 9878
www.etcni.org.uk The Welding Institute
Tel: 01223 891162
Facts and Stats:
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel was only 5ft tall and wore a top hat to make himself look taller
Engineering generates more than 40 per cent of the UK¿s national wealth
The Box Hill tunnel, part of Brunel¿s Great Western Railway, took five years to dig and at two miles long was the longest tunnel in the world at the time