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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 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Birmingham 310 $37,000
Hoover 310 $37,000
Mobile 270 $38,580
Tuscaloosa 250 $54,430
Decatur 130 $45,190
Montgomery 80 $35,490
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 380 $36,550
Mesa 380 $36,550
Phoenix 380 $36,550
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 130 $34,060
North Little Rock 130 $34,060
Little Rock 130 $34,060
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 1420 $30,690
Los Angeles 1420 $30,690
Anaheim 1420 $30,690
San Diego 340 $47,940
Carlsbad 340 $47,940
San Francisco 280 $44,830
Oakland 280 $44,830
Hayward 280 $44,830
Riverside 190 $33,210
San Bernardino 190 $33,210
Ontario 190 $33,210
Ventura 100 $32,840
Thousand Oaks 100 $32,840
Oxnard 100 $32,840
Roseville 100 $37,790
Sacramento 100 $37,790
Arcade 100 $37,790
Arden 100 $37,790
Santa Clara 100 $44,640
Sunnyvale 100 $44,640
San Jose 100 $44,640
Fresno 90 $35,970
Bakersfield 50 $30,130
Porterville 50 $30,420
Visalia 50 $30,420
Vallejo 50 $63,130
Fairfield 50 $63,130
Lodi 40 $32,580
Stockton 40 $32,580
Santa Rosa 30 $32,190
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Greeley 60 $24,660
Lakewood 50 $34,850
Aurora 50 $34,850
Denver 50 $34,850
Colorado Springs N/A $29,990
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 160 $37,600
East Hartford 160 $37,600
West Hartford 160 $37,600
Stamford 100 $31,670
Bridgeport 100 $31,670
Norwalk 100 $31,670
New Haven 40 $30,350
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tampa 190 $35,170
St. Petersburg 190 $35,170
Clearwater 190 $35,170
West Palm Beach 140 $33,420
Fort Lauderdale 140 $33,420
Miami 140 $33,420
Titusville 30 $33,570
Palm Bay 30 $33,570
Melbourne 30 $33,570
Kissimmee N/A $34,800
Orlando N/A $34,800
Sanford N/A $34,800
North Port N/A $36,130
Bradenton N/A $36,130
Sarasota N/A $36,130
Jacksonville N/A $42,380
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 590 $31,700
Sandy Springs 590 $31,700
Atlanta 590 $31,700
Gainesville 50 $31,430
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 110 $35,300
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Champaign 220 $31,710
Urbana 220 $31,710
Peoria 150 $37,090
Rockford 70 $34,750
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 600 $29,050
Carmel 600 $29,050
Indianapolis 600 $29,050
Goshen 150 $33,470
Elkhart 150 $33,470
Fort Wayne 80 $36,940
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dubuque N/A $35,190
West Des Moines N/A $38,080
Des Moines N/A $38,080
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 130 $36,090
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bowling Green 150 $34,950
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lafayette 180 $41,470
Metairie 100 $42,950
New Orleans 100 $42,950
Houma N/A $40,380
Thibodaux N/A $40,380
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland N/A $45,440
Portland N/A $45,440
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 150 $36,500
Columbia 150 $36,500
Baltimore 150 $36,500
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 1500 $39,350
Detroit 1500 $39,350
Warren 1500 $39,350
Grand Rapids 470 $40,810
Wyoming 470 $40,810
Portage 40 $38,690
Kalamazoo 40 $38,690
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 130 $42,530
St. Cloud 50 $33,880
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pascagoula 340 $51,350
Biloxi 340 $51,350
Gulfport 340 $51,350
Jackson N/A $35,520
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 70 $29,240
Joplin N/A $26,740
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise N/A $31,940
Henderson N/A $31,940
Las Vegas N/A $31,940
Reno N/A $33,760
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester N/A $28,920
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 120 $34,990
Buffalo 120 $50,900
Niagara Falls 120 $50,900
Cheektowaga 120 $50,900
Syracuse 50 $38,350
Binghamton 40 $34,630
Elmira N/A $41,770
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Winston 120 $36,270
Salem 120 $36,270
Asheville 60 $31,190
Raleigh 50 $29,440
High Point 40 $34,130
Greensboro 40 $34,130
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cleveland 560 $32,320
Elyria 560 $32,320
Akron 200 $38,430
Toledo 170 $33,310
Dayton 90 $33,220
Mansfield 70 $25,250
Lima 70 $41,390
Canton 60 $33,930
Massillon 60 $33,930
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tulsa 520 $43,560
Oklahoma City 150 $31,040
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 30 $38,260
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 130 $40,950
Lancaster 120 $29,910
Hazleton 90 $35,760
Barre 90 $35,760
Wilkes 90 $35,760
Scranton 90 $35,760
Erie N/A $33,290
Hanover N/A $34,850
York N/A $34,850
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas N/A $23,510
Carolina N/A $23,510
San Juan N/A $23,510
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Greenville 190 $30,200
Mauldin 190 $30,200
Anderson 190 $30,200
Columbia 70 $35,850
Spartanburg 50 $43,700
Charleston 30 $43,880
North Charleston 30 $43,880
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 130 $37,390
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Davidson 500 $32,360
Murfreesboro 500 $32,360
Franklin 500 $32,360
Nashville 500 $32,360
Knoxville 460 $38,190
Jackson 130 N/A
Morristown 130 $36,490
Johnson City 120 $34,500
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sugar Land 1440 $45,780
The Woodlands 1440 $45,780
Houston 1440 $45,780
Arlington 620 $31,170
Fort Worth 620 $31,170
Dallas 620 $31,170
New Braunfels 310 $32,030
San Antonio 310 $32,030
Beaumont 250 $45,850
Port Arthur 250 $45,850
Longview 130 $31,950
Austin 100 $34,510
Round Rock 100 $34,510
Odessa 60 $47,910
Tyler N/A $33,200
Midland N/A $44,400
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 80 $38,310
Orem 30 $34,600
Provo 30 $34,600
Clearfield 30 $45,670
Ogden 30 $45,670
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roanoke 190 $38,840
Richmond 110 $36,720
Staunton 70 $34,830
Waynesboro 70 $34,830
Lynchburg N/A $31,550
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 220 $46,680
Tacoma 220 $46,680
Seattle 220 $46,680
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 810 $53,890
West Allis 810 $53,890
Milwaukee 810 $53,890
Madison 330 $34,740
Oshkosh 50 $40,360
Neenah 50 $40,360
Appleton 40 $39,930
Wausau N/A $32,700
Racine N/A $38,510

Most Popular Industries for :
Welding Machine Operators

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

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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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