For welders, their hands and their eyes are their most important tools they can ever have. They need to be able to inspect closely and to single out the smallest details. They also need to be able to get their hands into to various positions to weld parts together. Fortunately, eyesight is easy to rectify. It’s not uncommon for some welders to have less than 20/20 vision and wear contact lenses on the job. For a long-term solution, there’s also the option to get LASIK eye surgery, which a some welders have undergone.
The hands are a bit trickier, however. Welding calls for precise movements and a steady grip as well as excellent eye-hand coordination. What the eyes can see, the hands should follow. Though welding is a job that also requires intellectual and creative skills, it’s still primarily a physical job, with the hands doing a lot of the work.
If you want to work with your hands and if you have the dexterity for the job, then you already meet the biggest prerequisites for a successful career in welding. But of course, that’s not enough. There are other factors to consider, so ask yourself the following questions:
Can I commit to a vocational career?
Welding is in demand across various industries, making it a lucrative career choice. Welding also opens the possibilities of frequent travel, particularly if you choose to be a maritime welder. You can work on maritime vessels from boats to cargo ships, and be on board as they traverse the seas.
Do I have the necessary math skills?
Welders aren’t just good with their hands — they’re good with numbers, too. Math skills are necessary because they have to analyze blueprints, calculate dimensions, etc. You should be comfortable with fractions and decimals if you want to be a welder. Knowledge in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry helps, too. For example, welders should understand angles and use formulas to measure the strength of a welding joint.
Am I ready to spend on my own equipment?
If you want to work independently (as many welders do), you’ll need to have your own tools. You won’t have to deal with that while learning, though. When you’re enrolled in a certification program, equipment is usually provided. However, having your own equipment even while you’re still learning means you can practice in your garage in your spare time. After all, you’ll need plenty of hands-own experience to become a skillful welder. If cost is a concern, just start with basic secondhand tools and work from there.
Do I understand the importance of on-the-job safety?
Exposure to UV radiation and metal fumes is the primary occupational hazard for welding. Welders have experienced shocks, burns, and cuts, as well as other injuries affecting the eyes, hands, and feet. Fires and explosions, though not as common, are not unheard of, either. Thus, it’s crucial that you understand the seriousness of these hazards, as well as the importance of on-the-job safety. With the proper gear and best practices, you can protect yourself from getting hurt while working.
Am I willing to get a formal education on welding?
Although people with only high school diplomas can be hired as welders, provided they have the skills, some employers prefer to hire welders who have an associate degree in a reputable welding program. Having a formal education in welding means you have a strong foundation on which you can hone your craft. Also, in today’s competitive job market, aspiring welders are doing their best to surpass the competition. Chances are that your fellow applicant for your dream welding job has formal education. If you don’t have one, they instantly gain an edge over you.
Are you ready to start your welding journey?
If you answered yes to the questions above, it looks like welding is a suitable choice for you. But to turn that interest into an actual career, consider getting an associate degree in welding. The Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) offers a program in Maritime Welding Technology with Service Management, which provides core training in the practical aspects of construction and repair of equipment and structures built with steel.