Welding and Fabrication: A Rewarding Career

May 19 2016

A welder working on a fabrication project.

Welding and fabricating are rewarding trades that can provide a fulfilling, and lucrative, career. For those looking to engage their minds and test their skill,
Swanton Welding workers have helped create projects as diverse as a 50,000 lb mixing tank, a 125,000 lbs acid furnace, an A-514 steel thrust frame weldment, and even an industrial conveyor for agriculture. Creating these custom pieces provides a wide variety of job opportunities across different industries, keeping you work fresh by constantly presenting you with exciting new challenges. Beyond the variety of the work and the potentially high income there is much to recommend a career as a welder or fabricator that you might not know.

What do Welders do?

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers are grouped into the category of metal workers. These workers cut or join metal parts and also fill holes, indentations, or seams; using these metal parts to create functional and aesthetically pleasing products. Since metal fabrication projects can range in size from small to large, the level of skill and specialization necessary will vary according to the project. Often times projects may require elements like outdoor work, heavy lifting or elevated scaffold work. The average welder is employed full time, and overtime is common in certain kinds of jobs. The median annual wage for this group of metal workers in the US is $38,150 in 2015. Welding jobs are expected to grow 4% by 2024.

Career Paths in Fabrication

A welder working on another fabrication project.Most metal workers have at least a high school diploma and complete some amount of on-the-job training, and most start with only basic skills. Additional skills with tools like grinders, drill presses, and shear are common, and can be learned over time. Entry-level jobs may start around $11-$12 an hour, but experienced and specialized workers often make closer to $22 an hour, and the more educated/experienced you are the higher your income can potentially be. Experience has shown to have a significant impact on earnings, with mid-career level and higher earning above $37,000/year. Skills that can increase earnings include MIG and TIG welding experience, aluminum welding, plasma cutting, and blueprint knowledge. Welders may advance to become Certified Welding Inspectors or Production Supervisors. Metal Fabricators may go on to become welders or possibly shop foremen.

Welding Educational Programs

For those interested in become welders or fabricators, shop class is great preparation. If it‘s possible for you to start in high school, you can give yourself a head start before beginning a technical school program. Most programs teach both hands on knowledge, and the science behind a good weld. Knowledge of chemical reactions between metals and cover gases and heat are all important. Specialized programs recommend a well-rounded background that includes good math scores in areas like problem solving and basic geometry. At schools like the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology in Ohio, students spend about 20% of the time in the classroom and the other 80% of the time doing hands-on work. For programs like the United Association Local 72 in Atlanta, internships are the focus. Interns work on-the-job four days a week and go to class on the fifth. This setup allows students to earn money while learning. Instructors emphasize that the more skills a student or intern learns, the more valuable they will ultimately be to an employer.

Metal work can be a rewarding career whether you choose to work as a welder or a fabricator. This growing field has the potential for both steady jobs and a solid wage and allows workers to be part of a large variety of projects. For more information, talk to your local welders and experts about career opportunities today.

Learn more about career opportunities at Swanton Welding

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