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Welding Machine Operator

Job Duties

Welding machine operators monitor machines that perform welding tasks. They often work from specialized blueprints, work orders, and layouts. Welding machine operators are responsible for the correct loading of parts into the machine. They are usually responsible for the basic maintenance and upkeep of the machine. And they must carefully observe the machine during its operation to ensure everything goes smoothly. If something goes wrong, they correct the problem and restart the machine. Some welding machine operators monitor machines used in plasma cutting, which harnesses heat from an electric arc to join metals.

Welding is the most common method for joining two pieces of metal together permanently. The process involves melting and fusing two pieces together to form a bond. Materials that have been properly welded together can withstand enormous amounts of force. Because of this, the method is used in such manufacturing industries as shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing, and aerospace applications. It is also used in the construction of buildings, bridges, power plants, and refineries.

Job Skills

Welding machine operators need to have excellent eyesight. They should also have good manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. They must have the ability to concentrate on small details for hours at a time. They need to be able to bend, stoop, and work in awkward positions. They also need to be open to continuing their training throughout their career.

Income

In 2002, welding machine operators earned a median hourly wage of $13.90. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $9.36, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $24.60. Wages differ based on factors such as experience, training, and the location and size of the company.

Training and Education

Training for welding machine operators is incredibly varied. Some operators have only a few weeks of on-the-job training. More highly skilled workers may have several years of school training and on-the-job experience. Training is available in high schools, vocational schools, vocational-technical institutes, community colleges, private welding schools, and the Armed Forces.

Courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, physics, chemistry, and metallurgy can be very advantageous. Computer knowledge and skills are become more and more important, even for entry-level positions. This is because workers are increasingly controlling and programming robotic machinery. Workers can become certified by passing practical examinations at independent testing labs. Welding machine operators can advance to positions such as welding technician, supervisor, inspector, or instructor. A few welding machine operators with a great deal of experience start their own businesses. Visit this page about welding schools for more information on related careers.

Employment

In 2002, welding machine operators held about 452,000 jobs. 2 out of 3 worked in manufacturing.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of welding machine operators is expected to increase faster than the average. Employment is dependent on the industries in which welders work. A strong economy usually boosts employment in the manufacturing sector and increases demand for welders. Economic downturns can decrease employment. Widespread emphasis on raising productivity has lead many companies to increase their investment in automated welding systems. This will greatly increase the demand for workers who can operate these automated systems.