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Skilled welders usually work from drawings called blueprints, and many utilize a technique known as arc welding. Arc welding is the simplest form of welding, and uses electrical currents to heat and bond metals together. Although arc welding is the most common technique, there are over 100 different welding processes that may be employed. Automatic welding is done completely by robots and is commonly used in manufacturing processes.
Welding workers are exposed to extremely hot materials, and must wear safety shoes, goggles, masks, and other gear. They must also work in ventilated areas. Many welders may work outdoors in inclement weather, or in confined areas indoors. They may need to lift heavy objects and bend, stoop, and stand for long periods. Good eyesight, hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, problem solving, and communication skills are necessary. Overtime is common.
Technical high schools and colleges can provide formal training for those interested in welding. Courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, physics, chemistry, and metallurgy are helpful. Basic computer knowledge is helpful for robotic welding. Some positions may require general certificates in welding which can be obtained through the American Welding Society. Welders may advance to more skilled positions such as welding technicians, supervisors, inspectors, or instructors with additional training and experience. Some choose to open their own shops. Workers who obtain a bachelor's degree may go on to become welding engineers.
Employment is not expected to change much over the next decade, but opportunities will be good for skilled welders trained in the latest technologies. For more information about careers, certification, and educational opportunities in welding, please visit the American Welding Society website.
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