Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join, repair, or cut metal parts and products.
Aluminum Welder, Assembly Line Brazer, Brazer, Fabrication Welder, Fabricator, Maintenance Welder, Solderer, Sub Arc Operator, Welder, Wirer
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers typically do the following:
- Read and interpret blueprints, sketches, and specifications
- Calculate and measure the dimensions of parts to be welded
- Inspect structures or materials to be welded
- Weld materials according to blueprint specifications
- Monitor the welding process and adjust heat as necessary
- Maintain equipment and machinery
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use welding torches and other equipment to apply heat to metal pieces, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond. Some workers specialize in welding; others perform all disciplines or a combination of them.
Welders join metals using a variety of techniques and processes. For example, arc welding use machinery that produces electrical currents to create heat and bond metals together. Welders usually choose a welding process based on a number of factors, such as the types of metals being joined.
Cutters use heat from an electric arc, a stream of ionized gas called plasma, or burning gases to cut and trim metal objects to specific dimensions. They also dismantle large objects, such as ships, railroad cars, and buildings.
Solderers and brazers use equipment to heat molten metal and join two or more metal objects. Soldering and brazing are similar, except that the temperature used to melt the filler metal is lower in soldering. Solderers commonly work with small pieces that must be positioned precisely, such as to make computer chips. Brazers connect dissimilar metals through the application of a filler material, which creates strong joints in products created with multiple metals; they also may apply coatings to parts in order to reduce wear and protect against corrosion.
For information on workers who operate welding, soldering, and brazing machines, see the profile of metal and plastic machine workers.
Detail-oriented. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers perform precision work, often with straight edges. The ability to see the characteristics of the joint and detect changes in molten metal flows requires attention to detail.
Manual dexterity. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must have a steady hand to hold a torch in place. They also need good hand-eye coordination.
Physical stamina. These workers must be able to endure long periods in awkward positions while bending, stooping, or standing.
Physical strength. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to lift heavy pieces of metal and move welding or cutting equipment.
Spatial-orientation skills. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to read and interpret two- and three-dimensional diagrams in order to fit metal products correctly.
- Specialty trade contractors
- Self-employed workers
- Repair and maintenance
Employers often prefer or require candidates to have a high school diploma or equivalent and technical training. This training may be available through high school technical education classes or programs at vocational-technical institutes, community colleges, and private welding, soldering, and brazing schools. In addition, the U.S. Armed Forces offer welding-related training.
Courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, and mechanical drawing may be helpful. An understanding of electricity also is useful.
Workers also may enter the occupation through an employer-based apprenticeship program. Some apprenticeships are available for entry-level workers who have no prior experience or training, while others are targeted toward those who have completed a vocational-technical school welding program.
Although some employers hire inexperienced entry-level workers and train them on the job, many prefer to hire workers who have completed training or credentialing programs. Entry-level workers with formal technical training still receive several months of on-the-job training.