Becoming a Combination Welder: Salary Info & Job Description

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A combination welder's mean annual salary is around $40,000. Is it worth the training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about the career outlook to find out if becoming a combination welder is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Combination Welder

Combination welders use specialized equipment to join pieces of metal. Consider the following pros and cons of this career to help you decide whether combination welding is the field for you.

Pros of Becoming a Combination Welder
Employment opportunities exist in a variety of industries**
Skills can be gained through real-life experience**
Majority of jobs are in manufacturing (61% of jobs)*
Training in welding technology can increase job prospects*

Cons of Becoming a Combination Welder
Evening and weekend work is often expected*
Job growth is expected to decline (6% from 2012-2022)*
Lower than the national average pay (mean annual wage of $40,000 vs. $47,000 national average)*
High risk of injury*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Careers in Welding.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Combination welding is a specialty within the field of welding. As a combination welder, you'll put together metal to create machine parts, equipment or motors. You may also repair pieces. To do your job, you'll follow blueprints. Typically, you will use arc welding equipment, but you may also use gas welding equipment. Automated machines are becoming more common, especially in manufacturing, so you may find occasions where you use a machine instead of employing traditional welding techniques.

You may be responsible for adjusting your equipment settings, selecting the proper tools and supplies, using welding skills to properly form pieces together and making adjustments as you work to reach the desired results. You may work indoors or outdoors, off the ground or lying under equipment. You may need to bend and stoop to reach the areas you are welding.

As you work, you'll be required to use safety equipment and follow safety guidelines. You may be susceptible to burns and eye injuries. Following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines can greatly reduce the risk of injury.

Job Prospects and Salary

The BLS reported in 2012 that welders, cutters, solderers and brazers held around 357,000 jobs. The BLS reported a 6% increase in employment for this field during the 2012-2022 decade. Despite the slower than average growth, the BLS reported that welders shouldn't see stiff competition for jobs if they are skilled in techniques and methods. Additionally, welders can find work in a number of fields, opening up their job prospects.

The BLS reported in May 2014 the mean annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers was roughly $40,000. The annual earnings reported for the 10th-90th percentile range was about $26,000-$59,000.

Career Skills and Requirements

You can begin to prepare for a career as a combination welder while you are still in high school. Courses in math and science are important to prepare for this type of work. You may also find completing shop classes or attending vocational courses in welding can prepare you for entering the work field upon graduation.

You can also prepare for this career by completing a welding program at a community college or welding school. You may obtain training in welding in the military. Employers often offer on-the-job training. There are also apprenticeship options where you learn on the job.

Experience is important in this field. With experience comes more job opportunities. You may be hired with no experience or training, but employers typically prefer to hire individuals who have some formal training in welding.

Employers often look for welders who have:

  • Good eyesight
  • Hand-eye coordination skills
  • Manual dexterity
  • Good math comprehension
  • The ability to concentrate for long periods of time
  • Willingness to continue education and training

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers may advertise for combination welders as just welders. In March 2012 job ads, employers were looking for individuals to fill positions as welders who could use a variety of equipment and techniques. Review the below job postings to discover other employer needs.

  • A multi-disciplinary corporation in Oklahoma was seeking someone who had sub-arc experience and could meet a range of specified weld testing requirements.
  • A technical services company out of Virginia needed to hire an employee who had experience in reading blue prints, was able to pass a company welding test and was willing to travel.
  • In Texas, a filter company was looking for someone with five years of experience, including experience in welding stainless steel.

How to Maximize Your Skills

One of the best ways to get ahead in the field of welding is to develop diversified skills. Generally speaking, more skills in different types and methods of welding equals more job options. Being able to weld in a variety of ways allows you to easily fit into almost industry, so you can seek work within the industries that are hiring instead of having to try to fight for jobs in only one sector.

Obtaining certification can also be helpful in this career field. Some employers will require or prefer that you have professional certification, such as that offered by the American Welding Society (AWS). The AWS offers the Certified Welder designation, which is a performance based certification that has no prerequisites (www.aws.org).

Other Careers to Consider

Boilermaker

Boilermakers maintain, repair and install vessels that hold liquids and gases, which are heated under pressure to generate heat or power. To work in this field, you need to complete an apprenticeship. The job growth expected for this career was 21% between 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

Plumber

To work as a plumber, installing and repairing water, waste and drainage lines, you need to complete an apprenticeship program. Additionally, most states require licensing. A job growth of 26% was projected by the BLS for the 2010-2020 decade.

Sheet Metal Worker

To become a sheet metal worker, you need to complete formal training and on-the-job training. In this profession, you are responsible for installing and maintaining products made from sheet metal. A 18% job growth was projected from 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

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