What Does a Welder Do: Duties and Potential Jobs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 21, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021

Updated September 21, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Welding is a construction activity generally used for joining materials together through the application of heat. A welder is a technician who uses heat, gas, and complex machinery to join metal and other substances together or repair and fill holes on metal construction. Starting a career as a welder requires you to understand common welding duties. In this article, we discuss what does a welder do, describe how to become one, offer the earning potential, and describe the career options available for welding.

What does a welder do?

Welders typically work on various kinds of manufacturing, industrial, and construction projects. Their duties vary depending on the education, skill level, and industry where they work. Here are some of the duties that encompass what does a welder do:

General duties

Regardless of the skill or scope of work, some general duties and responsibilities are common to all welders. Here are some of these duties:

  • Constructing projects for clients

  • Polishing and smoothing out metals before welding

  • Combining metal parts in overhead, vertical, or flat positions

  • Laying out, aligning, positioning, and securing metal components

  • Fixing seams or filling holes in metals

  • Studying blueprints, sketches, material safety information, and engineering drawings to determine proportions for designs

  • Maintaining welding machinery and equipment

  • Inspecting structures or materials before welding

  • Inspecting metalwork for defects and non-compliance with specifications

  • Monitoring metals to avoid overheating of such metals

  • Controlling and monitoring the materials and flame

  • Conjoining pieces of infrastructure to create new items

  • Removing excess weld, spatter, or slag from welded metal

  • Applying protective coatings to metals

Skilled-based duty of a welder

The duties of a welder usually depend on the industry and experience of the welder. Here are the skills-based duties that a welder performs:

Unskilled welders

An unskilled welder is responsible for working on assembly lines and performing repetitive welding tasks. Sometimes, they might use robots to complete spot welding or join panels when constructing specialized equipment. They usually have minimal knowledge about a metal's property, types of wires, gas, and the settings needed to complete a stable and robust weld.

Skilled welders

A skilled welder is usually knowledgeable about the welding requirements of various metal types. They normally complete a formal education or apprenticeship program that makes them competent in various advanced welding methods. They perform welding tasks across various applications. For instance, they are vital to developing skyscrapers, high-rise buildings, and other metal-composed buildings. They also work on specialized subjects such as racing cars.

Where does a welder work?

A welder works in a wide number of industries, although usually manufacturing-related. They work on both outdoor and indoor projects, depending on the specific industry. Here are some of the industries you can work in as a welder:

  • Construction

  • Shipbuilding

  • Industrial maintenance and repair

  • Railroad manufacturing

  • Aerospace applications

  • Civil engineering

  • Agricultural engineering

  • Automobile manufacturing and repair

  • Pipeline transportation

  • Natural gas distribution

  • Paper, paperboard, and pulp mills

  • Electrical power generation

  • Electrical power transmission and distribution

Related: How To Thrive in a Fast-Paced Environment

Welder work environment

Welding is an energetic and intense job with regular overtime hours. The work environment of a welder varies depending on the company, location, specialization, and industry. For example, a welder can work in aerated areas, tight spaces, underwater, or a unique facility. Most workers have a regular 40-hour workweek, while welders working on off-shore rigs and site facilities may remain there for an extended period spanning weeks or months.

In addition, some welders work overnight shifts during production-intensive periods. The work environment might expose you to numerous work-related hazards like gasses, flash burns, dangerous machines, and the danger of falling from elevated platforms. Therefore, most companies provide protective clothing, safety shoes, eyewear, and headgear to ensure their workers' safety.

Related: How To Become an Underwater Welder (With Skills and Tips)

National average salary

Welders are generally full-time employees, but some welders find part-time or contractual employment. As a result, the wages of a welder vary depending on the industry, type, size, and location of the company. Also, education and work experience can affect the wages of some welders. Regardless, the average salary is $51,819 per year, although some salaries range from $64,480 to $107,649 per hour.

Related: 14 High-Paying Blue-Collar Jobs (With Requirements)

Skills needed to be a welder

Beyond the necessary technical training, a welder needs some vital skills. Some of these skills include:

  • Great observation skills and attention to detail: You need to pay attention to every detail as a welder, since you work with specifications. Regularly considering the implication of mistakes ensures you can avoid them and produce metalwork per specifications.

  • Understanding safety protocols: Understanding the necessary safety protocols, such as wearing respirators, helmets, and other protective gear, is important. This ensures that you can work in a safe and productive environment.

  • Manual dexterity: You need to possess good hand skills as a welder as it ensures that you can produce neat products during projects. Developing related skills such as motor coordination is also necessary to ensure effective discharge of your duties.

  • Communication and interpersonal skills: Welders usually work in teams, and you need to maintain professional and productive relationships with colleagues. This requires you to communicate with them effectively, receive feedback, and implement suggestions to achieve business goals.

  • Time management and organization skills: Welders usually work in a fast-paced environment that requires completing many projects. Prioritizing and planning work activities to manage your time efficiently is vital to deliver on tasks.

  • Analytical, decision-making and problem-solving ability: Working as a welder requires you to solve construction problems in a reliable and resourceful manner. You need to identify issues, analyze them, identify solutions, and implement these solutions quickly.

  • Understanding of technical plans, blueprints, and drawings: Welders usually work with technical plans and blueprints in their construction process. To understand the needs of your clients, you need to be proficient in interpreting these documents.

  • Physical strength and stamina: Welding involves considerable physical activities such as standing, crouching, kneeling, and bending. Usually, these activities span an extensive period, so you need to be fit to work as a welder.

  • Math skills: Working as a welder requires taking measurements and calculating angles, both maths-related skills. So, being proficient in maths ensures you can deliver to client specifications and achieve better results.

Related: How To Improve Your Skill Set and Keep Skills Current

Welder career options

Various career options are available to a welder, depending on interests and skills. Here are several career options available to you as a welder:

Welder helper

National average salary: $45,325 per year

Primary duties: A welder helper assists welders in maintaining an organized work environment and sustaining their tools. They work directly with professional welders and help in the daily tasks of the welder. An apprenticeship candidate can work in this role.

Jeweller

National average salary: $47,533 per year

Primary duties: A jeweller uses gems, metal, and other materials to make rings, necklaces, bracelets, and other ornaments. They also appraise, repair and polish pieces of jewellery. The minimum requirement for you to works as a jeweller is an apprenticeship certificate.

Production welder

National average salary: $49,789 per year

Primary duties: A production welder fuses different metal materials to produce a new joint. They commonly work in the construction and manufacturing industries. An apprenticeship certificate is a minimum requirement to work as a production welder.

Metal fabricator

National average salary: $51,287 per year

Primary duties: A metal fabricator builds and creates usable metal products from raw materials. In addition, they build custom vehicles, metal art, and sculpted pieces. The minimum requirement for you to work as a metal fabricator is an apprenticeship certificate.

Ironworker

National average salary: $71,482 per year

Primary duties: An ironworker builds and removes metal outlines of different structures like skyscrapers, bridges, stadiums, and antennas. They also build commercial structures like elevators, catwalks, and fire escapes. The minimum requirement for you to work as an ironworker is an apprenticeship certificate.

Pipefitter

National average salary: $75,413 per year

Primary duties: A pipefitter builds, installs, repairs, and maintains piping systems that transport water, chemicals, steam, or fuel for commercial or industrial use. In addition to welding, a pipefitter requires other skills such as threading, brazing, and soldering. The minimum requirement for you to work as a pipefitter is an apprenticeship certificate.

Industrial boilermaker

National average salary: $85,288 per year

Primary duties: A boilermaker constructs and maintains boiler systems. They also construct iron, copper, or steel into boilers and containers for holding hot liquid and gas. You need at least an apprenticeship certificate for you to work as a boilermaker.

Explore more articles