Professional welders have the satisfaction of a career that lets them work with their hands and perform tasks that are essential to create machinery and other metal-containing products and structures. Welding, which involves exposing metal pieces to heat in order to fuse them, is used in many industries and activities related to manufacturing and construction. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the numbers of jobs for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers will grow 15 percent between 2010 and 2020, which compares with the BLS estimate of a 14 percent average growth for all U.S. jobs over the same years.
Disadvantages of Being a Welder
Since they work with high heat and large pieces of metal, welders sustain a higher rate of injury than many other professions. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration puts special emphasis on eye safety, noting that as of 2007, eye injuries were responsible for about 25 percent of all welding injuries. Welders also need to protect themselves from UV rays, burns and falling objects, and must be careful not to slip and fall when welding from a height. All welders wear protective gear and learn safety procedures intended to minimize these dangers. These precautions are needed whether the welder does electric arc welding or oxygen-acetylene welding.
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Though the specifics vary by company, welders can expect to take on shifts that include nights and weekends. Because welders often work for manufacturing firms that need continuous production, they may take on shifts ranging from eight to 12 hours in length. Due to the demands of the industry schedule, overtime is possible.
No matter the place of employment or what type of welding is called for, working as a welder is anything but a desk job. Welders might need to work outside, even in bad weather. Those working inside will likely be in an enclosed space, and proper ventilation is necessary to prevent workers from inhaling particles, gases and other dangerous materials. Some tasks require welders to work from scaffolds or other structures high off the ground. Workers who do boiler repair must crawl inside tight, confined chambers.
Even though welding can involve working in one spot for long lengths of time, it can be quite physically demanding. Welders need to maintain a high attention to detail while standing or performing repetitive motions, making the job more strenuous than it may initially seem. They also need to lift large pieces of metal and other equipment and reach or stoop in uncomfortable positions in order to complete welding tasks.