In addition to being proficient with the welding tools used in the trade as a structural welder, you also must be able to effectively read blueprints and translate them into specific orders. There are no specific educational requirements you need to get a job as a structural welder if you will receive extensive on-the-job training but experience and certifications will help you land a position.
Before you tackle a job you must read and comprehend the requirements of your specific welds. You’ll be given specifications, sketches or blueprints to study before you tackle a project. You may only receive verbal orders from the project manager or your supervisor. The strength and safety of a structure depends on your ability to properly place welds, joining beams and joints together. You must fully understand the directions you’ve been given before starting to weld.
Before you begin each day, you must gather the tools you’ll need to successfully complete the job and fulfill the requirements called for on the blueprints. You need to be organized when you work on a tall building or a large ship on areas that are far from your materials. Your piece of the project usually follows the fitters who have set the beams or joints in place. Welder boxes that weigh an average of 50 pounds hold your tools that you must carry back and forth so you want to make sure you have the correct tools for the specific job. During the day you may be expected to work in two or three different areas of the building.
You must operate your welding equipment effectively to create safe and secure structures. Structural welders often work on skyscrapers and bridges that rely on welds created at exactly the precise location to ensure the integrity of the structure. You’ll work beside pipe fitters, electricians and ironworkers who rely on your abilities to correctly read and follow the directions as the blueprints proscribe. You may work on new construction or repairing existing buildings and bridges. Your skills and confidence are vital, as you often work in awkward positions, on high scaffolding, in high winds or other inclement weather environments.
Ironworkers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Structural welders working with the steel beams in large construction projects face extensive risks for burns, cuts and falls. It’s your duty to always wear required safety equipment such as hardhats and harnesses when on a construction project. Certifications from a vocational training program or groups such as the American Bureau of Shipping increase your knowledge and proficiency in proper safety while welding and increase your chances of getting hired.