Metalworking and Welding

Metalworkers and welders can be found in variety of industries and services, including auto repair, construction and manufacturing. Read about career options in metalworking and welding, and find out what type of training you'll need and how much you can earn in this hands-on, versatile profession.

Is Metalworking and Welding for Me?

Career Overview

The terms metalworking and welding refer to the manipulation of metals for different commercial and industrial purposes. Sheet metal workers take raw materials and turn them into the parts and pieces needed to manufacture products, including locomotive motors and air conditioners. Welders work on construction sites or in commercial businesses and auto repair shops - just about anywhere metal structures or objects are manufactured. Ironworkers and metal workers build metal structures and supports, as well as design wrought iron items like fences and furniture.

Career Options

You might find employment as a contract welder or maintenance welder, fabricator, pipe fitter or welding engineer. You might also work in ornamental iron or blacksmithing. Opportunities in equipment repair and sales, education, manufacturing and quality control might also be available.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of sheet metal workers was projected to grow by 15% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, the BLS reported that sheet metal workers made an average yearly wage of $47,440. The BLS also that reported employment of welding, soldering and brazing workers was expected to increase by just 6% through 2022, which is slower than average. As of May 2013, workers employed in these positions earned an average annual salary of $39,110.

As reported by the BLS, employment of structural iron and steelworkers was projected to increase 22% from 2012-2022, which is notable faster than the national average of 11% for all occupations. In May 2013, structural iron and steel workers earned an average annual salary of $51,590, while reinforcing iron and rebar workers earned $54,430 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Metalworking and Welding?

Educational Options

If you're interested in metalworking and welding, you might consider enrolling in a welding certificate or degree program. The programs are commonly offered at the undergraduate level, often at junior colleges or technical schools. They can lead to a diploma or an associate degree in welding technology, as well as an entry-level position in the field. You can also take independent courses in metalworking and welding for personal enrichment, available at some universities.

Curriculum

Undergraduate studies can include topics in basic and complex welding, bonding and fusing piping, metal construction and business mathematics. You'll also study design analysis and production and learn how to use a variety of devices, instruments and machinery. Lab studies in welding might also be included. In addition to becoming proficient in metalworking, you'll also learn about safety regulations and how to communicate effectively with your fellow coworkers.

Certifications and Licenses

Some welding programs may lead to a professional certification, including the Certified Welder or Welding Fabricator credential offered by the American Welding Society (www.aws.org). A professional certification can serve as proof of competency in general welding, or demonstrate your expertise in robotic arc welding, lead-free soldering or welding inspections. If you're interested in working in the aerospace and defense industries, you may also want to look into the credentials offered by the Institute for Printed Circuits (www.ipc.org).

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