As a welding professional, there are specific and general skills you need to excel in the trade. These skills include everything from mathematical capabilities and experience with hand tools to physical strength and administrative skills. It helps to have experience in customer service and project management as well. As you pursue a career as a welder, consider this welding skills list to guide you through training and personal development.
What Is the Difference Between a Skilled and Unskilled Welder?
Welding is a trade commonly used in the manufacturing and construction industries. However, not all welders work in a professional setting. Some welding jobs require more extensive training. In general, welders fall under one of two categories:
- Skilled welder. A skilled welder typically trains through an apprenticeship and has knowledge of metals, heat reactions, blueprint interpretation, and welding techniques. They usually work independently and can handle a variety of welding tasks as well as troubleshoot welding issues.
- Unskilled welder. An unskilled welder has less formal training and typically limits their work to a few learned welding tasks. They may also work as an assistant to a skilled welder.
To better understand the skills you need to become a welder, you need to know the duties skilled and unskilled welders perform.
Duties of a Welder
The specific job duties of a welder vary depending on the industry in which they work and the position they hold. However, some basic welding skills and job duties include:
- Assembling equipment before and after a welding job
- Using a welding torch and arc to mold separate pieces of metal together or patch broken metal
- Maintaining safety precautions based on industry standards while performing welding work
- Operating a variety of welding tools
- Inspecting welding equipment for any defects and ensuring the correction of those issues
- Monitoring heat usage to ensure it does not compromise the integrity of the material they use
To fulfill these duties adequately, professional welders need certain soft and hard skills.
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What Soft Skills Do You Need To Be a Welder?
Some basic welding skills are innate. For example, some people are better at paying attention to detail. In welding work, you must use precision, including following specific directions, respecting safety guidelines, directing the flow of molten metal, and keeping a clean and neat workspace. Other soft skills include:
- Being reliable
- Working well with others
- Having excellent time management skills
- Having proven verbal and written communication skills
- Planning and plan execution skills
- Being able to work independently
- Natural ability in problem-solving or troubleshooting
- Ability to judge your own work objectively
If you struggle with any of these areas, you can certainly improve upon them over time and in training. One of the benefits of working in the welding field is that your job site can change regularly, especially if you contract your services. However, you will need to spend a significant amount of time training and developing hard skills to be able to work independently.
What Hard Skills Do You Need To Be a Welder?
The hard skills on the welding skills list include the equipment-handling and technological skills you learn as part of the training to be a welder. Examples include:
- Knowing which welding equipment you need for the varying types of jobs welders typically handle
- Knowledge of the various tools, practices, and technologies associated with the welding field
- Assembling and dissembling the equipment you use safely
- Operating robotic equipment
Some learned administrative skills, such as using computer software, are also sometimes needed for a welder. If you work in a client-facing section of the industry, you will need to develop customer service skills as well.
Mathematical Skills in Welding
Mathematical skills are a significant element in welding. Some people are inherently good at math, and others need more training. Examples of mathematical skills you may need as a welder include:
- The ability to read, interpret, and calculate exact dimensions
- The ability to interpret spatial calculations
- The ability to read and understand blueprints as they apply to a construction job
- Knowing how to interpret two-dimension and three-dimension diagrams
- Knowing how to interpret sketches
An unskilled worker could learn some of these skills for a specific job or develop mathematical skills while assisting a skilled welder. However, you typically need a state-mandated welding license to work independently on jobs that require this level of skill.
What Are the Physical Demands of Welding?
A professional welder works on a variety of different jobs with varying physical demands. If you intend to train and work in the field, you should prepare your body for the more laborious parts of the job, such as holding a heavy piece of welding equipment in place for an extended period of time. You may also need to carry heavy objects and stand, twist, or squat in position while holding operating tools. Overall, the physical skills you will need include:
- Excellent vision. If your vision is bad and you do not use corrective lenses, you will struggle with creating clean welding work.
- Steady hands. Because you work with heavy equipment, doing a job that requires precision, you need dexterity.
- Coordination. Being uncoordinated on a welding job would result in messy work or serious injury.
- Body flexibility. Welders often have to move and contort their bodies to reach awkward angles. Being flexible and strong makes this part of the job easier.
The physicality of the job is part of the basic welding skills and will improve over time. Training does not just teach you what you need to know about the profession. It also helps you develop the muscle memory you often rely on when performing the same job regularly.
Do You Meet the Requirements on the Welding Skills List?
Most welding positions require a baseline of good communication skills, a basic understanding of safety precautions, excellent hand-eye coordination, and steady hands. If you know you could or already do meet these requirements, you can develop the rest with proper practice and training. You can improve physical strength and endurance and learn the mathematical skills you need to do the job over time. With experience, you will gain the abilities you need on the welding skills list and build your career in this industry.