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The process of welding is characterized by the joining together of metal parts by superheating and fusing them until a permanent bond can be formed. The products on which welders work could include auto and aircraft parts, electrical circuit boards, brackets, panels, housings, jewelry parts, and many other things. Welders are needed in many business sectors, particularly in the manufacturing industry where they are prominently used in automobile manufacturing and repair, shipbuilding, bridge construction, and in dozens of other applications. To an increasing extent, the welding process is becoming more automated and dependent upon machines or robots to perform the actual welding tasks under the oversight of a skilled individual trained in both the welding process itself and also in the operation of the requisite machinery. Such an individual is known as a Welding Machine Operator.

Welding machine operators need to be able to set up the machine, load parts correctly, and continuously monitor the machine to make sure that it yields the desired bond. Operators may specialize in the operation of a particular type of machine. Those who do may have titles such as Resistance Welding Machine Operator, Arc Welding Machine Operator, or Gas Welding Machine Operator.

Responsibilities

A welding machine operator starts a project by first reading blueprints or work orders to determine the specifications of the particular product or job. Based on these instructions, the operator then sets up the machine by adjusting attachments, setting controls, and computing other settings to be programmed into the machine. Before preparing the work piece, the operator adds solutions which will cool the work piece or cause the metal to bond more easily. Next, he/she will lay out or fit together the parts to be bonded and, if necessary, load or feed the work piece into the machine. Some operators control robots that do all of these things.

During the time the machine is running, the operator will constantly monitor the machine to be sure it produces the desired welds or bonds. The operator will troubleshoot any problems right on the spot, which may involve adjusting controls or even stopping the machine temporarily to make an adjustment. When a product is finished, the operator will inspect, test, or measure it to be sure it meets requirements. Typically, an operator also performs preventative maintenance on machines, which includes cleaning them, lubricating them, and making adjustments as needed for proper operation.

A full list of duties which could be performed by a welding machine operator would be quite exhaustive, but a good representative sampling might include the following:

  • Reading blueprints, work orders, or production schedules for instructions
  • Positioning fixtures and attachments on the machine
  • Setting and adjusting machine controls for proper flame, electric current, or air and hydraulic pressure
  • Devising new fixtures to hold odd-shaped work pieces
  • Adding solutions to cool the work pieces or to assist in the joining or bonding
  • Aligning and feeding the work piece into the machine and removing it after completion
  • Operating the machine and monitoring its operation
  • Troubleshooting problems as they occur during machine operation
  • Recording information on production reports
  • Inspecting or testing finished work pieces for defects and to ensure requirements are met
  • Cleaning, lubricating, and maintaining machine parts as needed, using hand tools and equipment
  • Giving direction to other workers about machine set-up

Tools and materials used by welding machine operators may include the following:

  • Hand tools and clamps
  • Spot welding guns
  • Gas welding torches
  • Face shields and tongs
  • Bonding wire
  • Cast iron
  • Resistance welding guns
  • Bottled nitrogen and oxygen gas

Job Characteristics

Most welding machine operators work a 5-day work week and 8 hours each day, although some tend to put in a great deal of overtime. Many manufacturing companies operate several shifts and consequently operators who work there may be required to work afternoons or evenings. Operators sometimes work alone and sometimes as part of a team. When working, operators normally wear protective clothing, helmets, goggles, and/or face shields. They sometimes work in the presence of toxic fumes and gases, and quite often in a heated environment. Other unpleasant aspects of the work environment could include loud noise, vibration, and contact with grease, rust, and dirt.

Traits which a good welding machine operator should possess include good eyesight, attention to detail, organizational skills, and good hand-eye coordination. Efficiency, good communication and problem solving skills, and an ability to work in a team environment are other key aspects of the job. Good operators welcome activities which involve repetition and involve detail and accuracy. They need an ability to observe the detail in objects or drawings and to recognize differences, no matter how slight. Good analytical skills and familiarity with computer work are additional pluses for a worker in this profession.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDL BLS) projects moderate job growth in the welding profession over the next decade, with growth proceeding at an overall slower rate than average employment growth over all occupations. Future job prospects for manual welders will not necessarily match those of welding machine operators. Advances in welding technology should result in an increase in the use of automated and robotic welding techniques in manufacturing, which should in turn bode well for future employment of welding machine operators. Also, recent trends are showing an increasing investment by companies in automation, especially computer-controlled and robotically controlled welding machinery, which may increase demand for automated welders.

The nature of the welding profession lends itself to smooth transitioning from one business sector to another. The basic skills required of welding machine operators tend to be fairly consistent across industries, and consequently, operators are often able to find employment in whichever business sector happens to need their skills at any given time.

Welding Machine Operator Training, Certification, and Licensing

A high school diploma or GED is almost always required for this profession and, although many operators are trained on-the-job, some form of additional formal training is usually preferred. Many high schools, professional-technical schools, and two-year colleges offer formal training programs. Training is also offered by the U.S. Armed Forces and by private welding schools. Courses in mechanical drawing, blueprint reading, shop mathematics, physics, chemistry, and metallurgy are all helpful. Due to the growing prominence of computer-controlled machinery, some employers seek out applicants with knowledge of computers and/or an understanding of electricity.

A welding machine operator who is certified will be considered qualified for many jobs and will have an edge in a competitive job market. The most common path to certification is through apprenticeship. Securing an apprenticeship with a reputable company can usually be done through the community college or trade school at which formal training was received. Certifications are granted when the applicant demonstrates an ability to weld a test specimen according to specific codes and standards associated with the skill being tested.

Resources

Major Employers

The vast majority of welding machine workers are employed in manufacturing industries. Major employers include motor vehicle parts manufacturers, agriculture machinery manufacturers, structural metal products manufacturers, and construction machinery manufacturers. Other manufacturing business sectors include fabricated metal manufacturing, mining machinery manufacturing, and transportation equipment manufacturing.

Schools for Welding Machine Operators are listed in the column to the left.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Welding Machine Operators

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Welding Machine Operators jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Birmingham 470 $37,000
Hoover 470 $37,000
Mobile 150 $38,610
Decatur 70 $41,940
Montgomery 40 $38,080
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 540 $36,870
Mesa 540 $36,870
Phoenix 540 $36,870
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 30 $32,020
North Little Rock 30 $32,020
Little Rock 30 $32,020
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 1520 $36,430
Los Angeles 1520 $36,430
Long Beach 1520 $36,430
Carlsbad 370 $47,970
San Diego 370 $47,970
San Bernardino 210 $34,320
Riverside 210 $34,320
Ontario 210 $34,320
San Jose 180 $43,340
Santa Clara 180 $43,340
Sunnyvale 180 $43,340
Oxnard 110 $34,380
Thousand Oaks 110 $34,380
Ventura 110 $34,380
San Luis Obispo 60 $33,840
Paso Robles 60 $33,840
Arroyo Grande 60 $33,840
Roseville 60 $36,890
Arden 60 $36,890
Sacramento 60 $36,890
Arcade 60 $36,890
Santa Rosa 50 $38,980
Stockton 40 $33,900
Lodi 40 $33,900
Fresno 40 $37,590
Porterville N/A $39,330
Visalia N/A $39,330
Oakland N/A $44,550
San Francisco N/A $44,550
Hayward N/A $44,550
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 110 $41,540
Aurora 110 $41,540
Denver 110 $41,540
Greeley 30 $31,320
Colorado Springs N/A $34,420
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 210 $24,260
West Hartford 210 $24,260
Hartford 210 $24,260
Stamford 110 $34,240
Norwalk 110 $34,240
Bridgeport 110 $34,240
New Haven N/A $33,210
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 130 $33,030
Fort Lauderdale 130 $33,030
Miami 130 $33,030
North Port 120 $31,550
Sarasota 120 $31,550
Bradenton 120 $31,550
St. Petersburg 100 $33,720
Clearwater 100 $33,720
Tampa 100 $33,720
Jacksonville 60 $34,430
Sanford 60 $35,980
Orlando 60 $35,980
Kissimmee 60 $35,980
Winter Haven 50 $33,460
Lakeland 50 $33,460
Titusville 30 $32,360
Palm Bay 30 $32,360
Melbourne 30 $32,360
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 370 $34,980
Sandy Springs 370 $34,980
Atlanta 370 $34,980
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 80 $32,560
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 120 $34,280
Rockford 90 $32,090
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Indianapolis 610 $30,510
Anderson 610 $30,510
Carmel 610 $30,510
Goshen 150 $33,380
Elkhart 150 $33,380
Fort Wayne 70 $39,480
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dubuque N/A $36,550
West Des Moines N/A $41,270
Des Moines N/A $41,270
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 170 $34,540
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bowling Green 170 $36,570
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Thibodaux 210 $30,480
Houma 210 $30,480
Lafayette N/A $41,590
Metairie N/A $42,290
New Orleans N/A $42,290
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 180 $41,440
Columbia 180 $41,440
Baltimore 180 $41,440
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Detroit 1830 $38,720
Dearborn 1830 $38,720
Warren 1830 $38,720
Wyoming 630 $36,790
Grand Rapids 630 $36,790
Muskegon 90 $39,990
East Lansing 30 $33,770
Lansing 30 $33,770
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 170 $43,080
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pascagoula 390 $51,370
Biloxi 390 $51,370
Gulfport 390 $51,370
Jackson 270 $36,310
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Joplin N/A $28,030
Springfield N/A $29,480
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 50 $36,440
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 50 $32,340
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 130 $33,850
Henderson 130 $33,850
Las Vegas 130 $33,850
Reno N/A $40,810
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 30 $39,470
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 130 $48,540
Cheektowaga 130 $48,540
Buffalo 130 $48,540
Rochester 100 $36,530
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Asheville 50 $27,410
High Point 30 $32,870
Greensboro 30 $32,870
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 430 $33,770
Cleveland 430 $33,770
Toledo 230 $34,210
Akron 190 $37,590
Canton 90 $38,750
Massillon 90 $38,750
Dayton 80 $34,270
Mansfield 70 $22,670
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tulsa 440 $43,440
Oklahoma City 100 $31,470
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waynesboro 310 N/A
Chambersburg 310 N/A
Pittsburgh 170 $46,620
Barre 100 $36,700
Hazleton 100 $36,700
Wilkes 100 $36,700
Scranton 100 $36,700
Hanover 70 $30,290
York 70 $30,290
Lancaster 60 $36,590
Reading 40 $35,970
Harrisburg 30 $30,540
Carlisle 30 $30,540
Erie N/A $34,310
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas N/A $24,130
Carolina N/A $24,130
San Juan N/A $24,130
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mauldin 180 $32,530
Anderson 180 $32,530
Greenville 180 $32,530
Spartanburg 60 $44,060
Columbia N/A $40,180
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 100 $37,390
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Knoxville 390 $39,890
Murfreesboro 310 $36,200
Franklin 310 $36,200
Davidson 310 $36,200
Nashville 310 $36,200
Jackson 140 $35,080
Morristown 120 $37,990
Cleveland N/A $41,020
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Houston 1160 $42,700
Sugar Land 1160 $42,700
The Woodlands 1160 $42,700
Dallas 560 $32,100
Arlington 560 $32,100
Fort Worth 560 $32,100
Port Arthur 200 $47,200
Beaumont 200 $47,200
Longview 90 $29,340
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 60 $43,940
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roanoke 170 $41,280
Waynesboro 90 $35,880
Staunton 90 $35,880
Richmond N/A $36,540
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 160 $48,180
Tacoma 160 $48,180
Seattle 160 $48,180
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 430 $51,800
Waukesha 430 $51,800
Milwaukee 430 $51,800
Wausau 70 $34,020
Racine 30 $36,020
Madison N/A $31,030

Most Popular Industries for :
Welding Machine Operators

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Automotive And Vehicle Manufacturing 15,060 29% $32,330
Metal Products 14,370 28% $31,170
Machinery 11,040 21% $31,970
Electrical Appliance 2,260 4% $31,940
Office Services And Staffing 1,430 2% $25,140
Furniture 1,170 2% $32,030
Miscellaneous Manufacturing 1,010 1% $29,950
Maintenance And Repair 980 1% $30,340
Electronics And Computer 960 1% $28,100
Construction Trades 890 1% $30,280
Metals 740 1% $33,120
Durable Goods Wholesale 670 1% $32,110
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Welding Machine Operators.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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