The average welder in the United States brings home about $43,162 per year. That’s pretty good for a job that doesn’t require a college degree. It looks even better when you consider that the average salary of a high school graduate is about $30,000.
If you’re someone who enjoys working with tools and considers themselves manually-inclined, then you might even be interested in becoming a welder. To do so, you would need to complete some formal training, which could be an apprenticeship or a trade school program.
But before you start investing time and money into becoming a welder, it’s important to fully understand what you’re getting yourself into.
That’s why we’ve put together the following article. It showcases a day in the life of an average welder so that you can get a better sense of what your days will be like if you continue down this path. Keep reading to learn more.
Where do welders work?
The first question that you may have about the profession is where would you work as a welder. It’s impossible to provide a single answer here, as welders can work in a wide variety of settings. Essentially, they work wherever things need to be built or repaired. So a welder might be employed by a factory, a repair shop, or even a boatyard.
This is generally thought of as one of the positive aspects of the position. There are lots of different employers who need welders. So you will have some say over what your work environment looks like. For example, if you love being outdoors, you could focus on finding a welding job that allows you to spend all day outdoors.
Is welding dangerous?
Safety is a super important consideration that you’ll always have to keep in mind while welding. Generally, the practice of welding is considered safe when proper safety precautions are followed. But if these are ignored — even inadvertently — you could face an array of hazards.
There are several different dangers that professional welders need to look out for. Electric shock is one of the most serious of these. It occurs when welders touch two different metal objects together, which have a high voltage between them.
There are also lots of fumes and gases that you’ll be working around as a welder. These can cause serious health problems if breathed in. So you’ll always have to use proper ventilation when you’re working on a welding task.
Fire and explosions are two additional risks that welders face in the workplace. But these can be avoided by thoroughly inspecting a job site before getting started.
Overall, welding is more dangerous than other professions. But you won’t be impacted by these risks as long as you utilize proper safety techniques at all times. So just get into the habit of doing that early in your career and you should be fine.
A day in the life of a welder
Now that we’ve answered a few important questions about a welder’s job, let’s take a closer look at what someone in this position will do on an average day. Here’s an overview of a day in the life of a welder.
CLOCKING IN AND GETTING STARTED
Welders usually work in shifts. When their day begins, their first task is to clock themselves in and change into their protective gear.
Welders usually need to wear fire-resistant gloves, and either leather or fire-resistant clothing and boots. Welders also have to utilize an N95 face mask and a protective helmet. All of these things will be gathered and changed into when the welder is first clocking in for the day.
Once that’s complete, the welder will head on over to their assigned workplace for the day. If they’ve been assigned to work on a project, they’ll review the work that’s been done on it so far. Then they’ll start preparing their workspace and equipment for the tasks that they need to complete that day.
Finally, the last step before getting started is going through a safety checklist. Welders have to complete a safety verification process for each piece of equipment that they’re going to use to ensure their safety.
The actual starting time of a welder can vary greatly from one employer to another. Some welders begin super early in the morning before the sun has risen. Others might start at an average time, like 9:00. This just depends on where you work and which shifts you’re assigned to.
WORKING ON THE DAY’S TASKS
Once safety checks are complete, the welder is ready to begin completing their tasks for the day. This phase of the day usually starts with a final look at the work orders that the welder has been assigned for the day. They’ll confirm that everything is in order and then prepare the tools and equipment that they need for the first project.
Finally, the welder will begin welding. The employee may complete a wide variety of welding tasks throughout the day, including joining metal parts together, repairing holes in various structures, and cutting through materials with specialized welding equipment, among other things.
When a welding task is completed, the welder usually performs a check to verify that the end-product meets the required specifications. Once they’re happy with the results, the welder may need to call over their supervisor to get final approval for the completion of the work order.
A welder may complete this cycle several times throughout the day. The number of projects that they work on depends on the day and the intensity of the projects that they’re assigned to complete.
FINISHING UP FOR THE DAY
A welder may work from anywhere between 8-12 hours a day. Those who work longer shifts may three-day weekends to make up for the extra hours they’ve put in. But when the day is done, a welder can’t leave their workstation immediately.
Instead, the welder will first have to power off their equipment, put away their tools, and clean up their workplace. It will be their responsibility to make sure that everything is prepared for the next welder to come in and utilize the workstation’s equipment.
Once that’s done, the welder will go back to their locker room and change out of their work clothes. Then they’ll grab any personal items that they had to store while working and clock out of work for the day.
Can you learn to weld on the job?
If the average day of a welder sounds good to you, then you might be ready to get started with the career. In that case, you may be curious about whether you can learn welding on the job or if you need to complete a formal program before getting hired.
Most welders have completed some form of formal training before entering the workforce. Many complete programs at trade schools while others finish apprenticeships. Doing either of these things will teach you a breadth of skills that will enable you to hit the ground running when you get your first welding job.
You’ll certainly continue improving your welding skills on the job. But you shouldn’t rely on a welding job to train you completely.
Is welding right for you?
Deciding to pursue a new career can be challenging. More specifically, it’s hard to know in advance whether or not the job is right for you before trying it out for yourself.
Reading about what an average day looks like for a welder can help. But you should also consider which skills a welder needs to excel at their job. You can compare your skills to what’s required of a welder to see whether they match.
Most employers look for welders who have the following skills:
- Ability to interpret blueprints
- Experience with various types of welding equipment
- Ability to operate electrical and manual tools, such as saws, squares, and calipers
- Excellent attention to detail
- Mechanical problem-solving skills
- Ability to follow exact safety instructions consistently
If you have some of these skills already, then becoming a welder could be perfect for you. But if you’re someone who lacks attention to detail and has trouble consistently following procedures, then you might struggle in this role.