Discover the Wide World of Welding

world of welding information facts

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Did you know welding has been around for thousands of years?

That’s right! Welding has played a huge role in human innovation since 3000 BC.

Today, welding is part of the process of making almost everything we use in everyday life. The cars we drive, the buildings we live and work in and even the cell phones and computers we use daily are all made with welding. [1]

Discover more about the wide world of welding.

world of welding information facts

The History of Welding

Some of the earliest examples of welding come from the Bronze Age around 3000 BC. Way back then, people used forge welding to make small gold boxes.

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Welding may have been just as important then as it is now. Why? Ancient Egyptians depicted welders at work on the walls of their tombs with hieroglyphs.

By the Middle Ages, blacksmiths heated metals and then hammered them to shape iron tools. This approach must have been pretty effective, because the welding process didn’t change much for hundreds of years until the 19th century.

Read more about the history of welding.

Modern Welding

A lot has changed since the Middle Ages. Modern welders have over 100 different types of welding processes to choose from—and some are pretty extreme. Welders can use explosives, powerful lasers or high-frequency vibrations to fuse metals. [2]

Most shop floors, however, wouldn’t remind you of a special effects-packed action movie. Welders typically rely on arc welding to get the job done. The most you’ll see with this process are a few stray sparks.

Arc welding employs electric currents to heat and bond metals. [3] Below are three of the most commonly used types of arc welding.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

Sometimes called “stick welding,” this process uses an electric current to create an arc between the base metal and the electrode.

Applications: Fusing iron and steel in industrial fabrication and in the construction of steel structures like skyscrapers.

Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG)

With this process, a consumable wire electrode is fed through a welding gun, and the arc is formed between it and the workpiece. A shielding gas is also sent through the gun to protect the weld from atmospheric contamination.

Applications: The most commonly used process in industrial applications, MIG welding is frequently employed in the repair of motor vehicles and railroad tracks.

Tungsten Inert Gas Welding (TIG)

Unlike SMAW and MIG welding, the tungsten electrode used in TIG welding doesn’t melt and become part of the weld, but instead can be used again. Similar to the other two processes, a shielding gas is used.

Applications: Aircraft welding and racecar fabrication are two applications of TIG welding.

Welding Applications

More than half of American products and structures are made with welding. Take a look around, and you’ll see just what a big role welding plays in the world:

  • Airplanes
  • Bridges
  • Trains
  • Ships
  • Space Shuttles
  • Electronics
  • Buildings
  • Oil Rigs

Welding Fun Facts

Welding is important in exciting fields like NASCAR and NASA.

  1. How many hours does it take to weld a race car for NASCAR? About 950 hours.

From the suspension to the chassis to the drivetrain, welders fuse and machine hundreds of parts for their high-performance automobiles.

  1. Did you know it’s possible to weld in space? When two pieces of metal touch in space, a permanent bond is immediately formed. It’s a silent process out there among the stars. We wouldn’t have the International Space Station without it.

Welded Wonders

You might not spend too much time wondering how your car or cell phone were made, but some of the world’s biggest welding projects could definitely make you stop and marvel at their construction. Check out how these showstoppers were made.

Emma Maersk Ships

  • Details: At 1,302 feet long, these massive ships could hold more than 3 football fields on their decks.
  • Construction: Twenty-four huge metal hull blocks are welded together to make Emma Maersk container ships.
  • History: When the company first came out with the ships in 2006, they earned the recognition as the world’s largest.

Empire State Building

  • Details: Standing at more than 1,454 feet, the Empire State Building is one of the Big Apple’s tallest.
  • Construction: Over 3,400 workers, many of them tradesmen and welders, built the Empire State Building over the course of 410 days. On average, they added 4.5 stories a week.
  • History: Coming in at a total cost of $40,948,900, the building was completed in 1931. [4]

Trans-Alaskan Pipeline

  • Details: Stretching more than 800 miles long, the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline transports oil from fields in Northern Alaska to the southern part of the state to be shipped.
  • Construction: Once considered an impossible feat, the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline required the work of thousands of welders. It was no ordinary welding job, either. These tradespeople dealt with rough terrain and freezing temperatures for more than three years to construct the pipeline.
  • History: It was completed in 1977.

Welding Careers

Welders create things directly with their own two hands. They fuse the metal joints necessary for the nation’s major infrastructure and essential products.

Welding Career Outlook

What is the career outlook for welders in the coming years?

  1. As of 2016, 404,800 people worked as welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in the U.S.
  2. Men accounted for 95.9 percent of welders. Women welders made up 4.1 percent of the industry.
  3. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of welding is set to grow at a pace about as fast as the average for all occupations in the country.

Types of Welding Jobs

Welders apply their trade in an array of industries:

  • Underwater
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Computer Chip Manufacturing Plants
  • Military Support
  • Gold and Copper Mines

Welder Pay

While having a hand in the making of the country is perhaps the biggest reward of a career in welding, the pay can be something to smile about, too.

Welding pros can earn between $26,800 and $62,100 a year. The salary depends on a variety of factors:[5] [6]

Top 5 States for Welding Jobs

  1. Texas
    • Number of welders employed: 53,790
    • Annual salary: $45,250
  2. California
    • Number of welders employed: 27,440
    • Annual salary: $43,840
  3. Ohio
    • Number of welders employed: 17,280
    • Annual salary: $39,260
  4. Pennsylvania
    • Number of welders employed: 15,820
    • Annual salary: $42,150
  5. Louisiana
    • Number of welders employed: 15,540
    • Annual salary: $47,810

Top 5 Highest Paying Cities for Welding Jobs

  1. Anchorage, AK: $72,350
  2. Fairbanks, AK: $72,250
  3. San Francisco, CA: $68,650
  4. Honolulu, HI: $59,890
  5. Santa Maria, CA: $59,060

A Skilled Labor Shortage, a Ton of Opportunity

As you can see, welding is a vital process to the country and can be a promising career.

As promising as welding seems as a career, the number of people lining up to fill jobs is lagging, and the skilled labor shortage has made it challenging for companies trying fill positions for welders.

The nation needs more trained welders—people like you who want to make their mark on the world.

Learn more about how to become a welder.

Additional Sources

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