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Welders, Cutter, Solderer, or Brazier

Job Outlook: 3% (Slower than average)

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What Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers Do About this section

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join or cut metal parts.

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join or cut metal parts. They also fill holes, indentations, or seams in metal products.

Duties

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers typically do the following:

  • Read and interpret blueprints, sketches, and specifications
  • Calculate and measure the dimensions of parts to be welded
  • Inspect structures or materials to be welded
  • Weld materials according to blueprint specifications
  • Monitor the welding process and adjust heat as necessary
  • Maintain equipment and machinery

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use welding torches and other equipment to apply heat to metal pieces, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond. Some workers specialize in welding; others perform all disciplines or a combination of them.

Welders join metals using a variety of techniques and processes. For example, in arc welding they use machinery that produces electrical currents to create heat and bond metals together. Welders usually choose a welding process based on a number of factors, such as the types of metals being joined.

Cutters use heat from an electric arc, a stream of ionized gas called plasma, or burning gases to cut and trim metal objects to specific dimensions. They also dismantle large objects, such as ships, railroad cars, and buildings.

Solderers and brazers use equipment to heat molten metal and join two or more metal objects. Soldering and brazing are similar, except that the temperature used to melt the filler metal is lower in soldering. Solderers commonly work with small pieces that must be positioned precisely, such as to make computer chips. Brazers connect dissimilar metals through the application of a filler material, which creates strong joints in products created with multiple metals; they also may apply coatings to parts in order to reduce wear and protect against corrosion.

For information on workers who operate welding, soldering, and brazing machines, see the profile on metal and plastic machine workers.

Work Environment About this section

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers wear protective clothing and welding helmets for safety.

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers held about 418,200 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers were as follows:

Manufacturing 64%
Specialty trade contractors 7
Self-employed workers 4
Repair and maintenance 4

Welders and cutters may work outdoors in all types of weather, or indoors, sometimes in a confined area designed to contain sparks and glare. They may work on a scaffold or platform high off the ground.

In addition, they may have to lift heavy objects and work in awkward positions, such as overhead, while bending, stooping, or standing.

Injuries and Illnesses

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers risk injury on the job. They may be exposed to a number of hazards, including fumes, very hot materials, and intense light created by the arc. Workers avoid injuries by following safety procedures and using personal protective equipment, such as welding helmets, hearing protection, and heat-resistant gloves.

Work Schedules

Most welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Many manufacturing firms have two or three 8- to 12-hour shifts each day, allowing the firm to continue production around the clock if needed. As a result, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers may work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Welder, Cutter, Solderer, or Brazer About this section

welders cutters solderers and brazers image
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must have a steady hand to hold a torch in place.

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training, to enter the occupation.

Education & Training

Employers often prefer or require candidates to have a high school diploma or equivalent and technical training. This training may be available through high school technical education classes or programs at vocational–technical institutes, community colleges, and private welding, soldering, and brazing schools. In addition, the U.S. Armed Forces offer welding-related training.

Courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, and mechanical drawing may be helpful. An understanding of electricity also is useful.

Workers also may enter the occupation through an employer-based apprenticeship program. Some apprenticeships are available for entry-level workers who have no prior experience or training, while others are targeted toward those who have completed a vocational–technical school welding program.

Although some employers hire inexperienced entry-level workers and train them on the job, many prefer to hire workers who have completed training or credentialing programs. Entry-level workers with formal technical training still receive several months of on-the-job training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Welders must be licensed in some states and localities; requirements vary. Contact individual state or local government licensing agencies for more information.

Professional organizations offer courses leading to general certification. For example, the American Welding Society offers the Certified Welder designation.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) offers certification in practical welding technology for workers seeking to enhance core competencies, and the Institute for Printed Circuits offers certification and training in soldering.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that welders complete training on electrical safety. Other types of OSHA training are available but generally are not required.

Some employers require general or specific certification for particular jobs. They may pay the cost of training and testing for employees.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers perform precision work, often with straight edges. The ability to see characteristics of the joint and detect changes in molten metal flows requires attention to detail.

Manual dexterity. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must have a steady hand to hold a torch in place. They also need good hand–eye coordination.

Physical stamina. These workers must be able to endure long periods in awkward positions while bending, stooping, or standing.

Physical strength. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to lift heavy pieces of metal and move welding or cutting equipment.

Spatial-orientation skills. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to read and interpret two- and three-dimensional diagrams in order to fit metal products correctly.

Pay About this section

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Median annual wages, May 2021

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

$47,010

Total, all occupations

$45,760

Metal workers and plastic workers

$42,960

 

The median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers was $47,010 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,350, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,660.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Specialty trade contractors $48,020
Repair and maintenance 47,530
Manufacturing 46,630

Wages for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers vary with the worker’s experience and skill level, the industry, and the size of the company.

Most welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Many manufacturing firms have two or three 8- to 12-hour shifts each day, allowing the firm to continue production around the clock if needed. As a result, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers may work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

8%

Total, all occupations

8%

Metal workers and plastic workers

2%

 

Employment of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 49,200 openings for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

The nation’s aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings.

Employment projections data for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

51-4121 418,200 452,400 8 34,100 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities in this occupation, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, or local businesses that employ welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, visit

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

American Welding Society

Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International

Institute for Printed Circuits

Precision Machined Products Association

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Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

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