Training for welding, cutting, soldering, and brazing workers ranges from a few weeks of school or
on-the-job training for low-skilled positions to several years of combined school and on-the-job training for highly skilled jobs.
Formal training is available in high school technical education courses and in postsecondary institutions, such as vocational-technical institutes, community colleges, and private welding, soldering, and brazing schools. The U.S. Armed Forces also operate welding and soldering schools.
Some employers are willing to hire inexperienced entry-level workers and train them on the job, but many prefer to hire workers who have been through formal training programs. Courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, physics, chemistry, and metallurgy are helpful.
An understanding of electricity also is helpful, and knowledge of computers is gaining importance as welding, soldering, and brazing machine operators become more responsible for programming robots and other computer-controlled machines.
Because understanding the welding process and inspecting welds is important for both welders and welding machine operators, companies hiring machine operators prefer workers with a background in welding.
Some welding positions require general certification in welding or certification in specific skills, such as inspection or robotic welding. The American Welding Society certification courses are offered at many welding schools. Some employers pay training and testing costs for employees.
The Institute for Printed Circuits offers certification and training in soldering. In industries such as aerospace and defense, which need highly-skilled workers, many employers require these certifications. Certification can show mastery of lead-free soldering techniques, which are important to many employers.
Detail oriented. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must do precision work, often with straight edges and minimal flaws. Therefore, workers should have a keen eye for detail.
Dexterity. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must have a steady hand to hold a torch in one place. Workers must also have good hand-eye coordination.
Physical strength. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be in good physical condition. They often must lift heavy pieces of metal and sometimes bend, stoop, or reach while working.
Stamina. The ability to endure long periods of standing or repetitious movements is important for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers.
Technical skills. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to operate manual or semiautomatic welding equipment to fuse metal segments.
Troubleshooting skills. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must have the ability to detect cracked pieces of metal and be able to repair them.
Visual acuity. The ability to see details and characteristics of the joint and detect changes in molten metal flows requires good eyesight.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition