April is National Welding Month, and as the first in an upcoming series of welding-focused posts, I thought I would discuss just a few of the specialized occupations within the welding field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 350,000 jobs classified within the area of welding careers including “Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers” in 2012. However, they aren’t the only folks whose occupations routinely demand they join materials together through coalescence, i.e. weld, so let’s take a moment and tip our hats (or welding shields) and raise some glasses (or torches) to these hard working men and women.
These aren’t just the students and alumni of Purdue University. In fact, these are the men and women who build, assemble, and repair the boilers, vats, and vessels used in many industries. Often, these boilers heat the liquids that generate power or provide heat to ships, buildings and factories.
In 2012, there were more than 18,000 boilermakers employed in the U.S.
These men and women perform their welding under elevated pressures, which is often beneath the surface of water. Typically, this process is either “dry,” which means the welding is done inside a special enclosure, or “wet,” which is when the welding is done within the water itself. Naturally, this type of welding is often used on ships, offshore oil rigs and pipelines. Welding under water carries with it more risk than most other welding situations and is, therefore, often one of the higher paying fields.
Underwater welding was invented by Konstantin Khrenov in 1932.
Iron workers build and assemble the steel framework of pre-engineered metal buildings and structures. As the name implies, iron workers historically worked with wrought iron, but today, they work with many different materials, including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, concrete and composites. If you enjoy many landmarks like skyscrapers and bridges, you can thank iron workers for a significant part of their construction.
Traditionally, iron workers celebrate the completion of a job with a “Topping Out” ceremony when the last beam of the building or bridge is set in place and topped with a Christmas tree, flag and banner.
Pipefitters install, assemble, fabricate, maintain and repair mechanical pipe systems, pipe supports, and hydraulic and pneumatic equipment. This trade might be confused with plumbing, but there is at least one major difference. While plumbers typically focus on low pressure systems for sewage and potable water, pipefitters concentrate more on industrial systems that often operate under high pressure.
In 2012, there were more than 386,000 pipefitter jobs in the U.S. with an average pay of nearly $50,000.