Welding is an important part of engineering. It is the process of heating and melting metal parts and is used in the construction and repair of different technologies, systems and infrastructures such as airplanes, ships, buildings, bridges, highways, and various kinds of metal products. Welders can be skilled or unskilled. Skilled welders often work from blueprints and specifications and have deep knowledge and experience. Upon training, skilled welders can also learn to program computers and robots used in joining metal pieces. On the other hand, unskilled welders often do manual, repetitive work that requires no special knowledge of welding properties. Nevertheless, welding is a wide field and not limited to one industry so all welders have endless opportunity to learn about various process and techniques and develop their craft.
Some of the qualities an aspiring welder must have are good eyesight, physical fitness, good hand-eye co-ordination, perseverance, precision, and enjoyment in working with tools. Education-wise, a high school diploma can help but is not required. However, taking certain courses like physics, mathematics and mechanical drawing would be very helpful. Computer programming knowledge would also be an asset. Unskilled welders can learn the job in a short time but if you want to be a skilled welder, you need to have the discipline and practice equivalent to a couple of years. Lots of schools offer training programs for welders and some companies offer apprenticeships.
The salary of a welder depends on his level of skill, particular industry, company, and job location. In 2004, the average income was $14.72 per hour. Experienced welders who own their own businesses earn higher wages than salaried workers. However, salaried workers enjoy other benefits like health insurance, paid vacations and holidays, and pension plans.