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Occupational Profile
Apprenticeship

Welder

Welders use a variety of welding processes to join and sever metals. Wire process operators use wire feed welding processes and work primarily in production environments. 

  • Avg. Salary $80,323.00
  • Avg. Wage $37.04
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook Down
Also Known As

Production Welder, Underwater Welder, Wire Process Operator

NOC & Interest Codes
The Welder is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Welders
NOC code: 7265.1
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to fuse metal segments using processes such as gas tungsten arc (GTAW), gas metal arc (GMAW), flux-cored arc (FCAW), plasma arc (PAW), shielded metal arc (SMAW), oxy-acetylene (OAW), resistance welding and submerged arc welding (SAW)

METHODICAL

Interest in cleaning and preparing pieces for welding

INNOVATIVE

Interest in compiling information from specifications to shape metal by operating metalworking machines such as brakes, shears and other metal straightening and bending machines; and in examining and repairing worn parts of metal products by welding on extra layers

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Welding, Brazing and Soldering Machine Operators
NOC code: 7265.2
OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating previously set up welding machines such as spot, butt and seam resistance, gas- and arc- welding machines, and previously set-up brazing and soldering machines to bond metal parts and to fill holes, indentations and seams of metal articles with solder; and in starting up, shutting down, adjusting and monitoring robotic welding production lines

METHODICAL

Interest in comparing machine settings and adjusting welding heads and tooling to job specifications, to select torch tips, braze alloy and flux according to type and thickness of metal as specified by work orders; may adjust welding heads and tooling according to work specifications

innovative

Interest in repairing and fabricating metal parts, and in assisting with the maintenance and repair of welding, brazing and soldering equipment

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 17, 2017

There are two branches of the welding trade in Alberta: welder and wire process operator.

Welders join and sever metals in beams, girders, vessels, piping and other metal components, make metal parts used in construction and manufacturing plants, and weld parts, tools, machines and equipment.

Welding usually involves applying heat to metal pieces to melt and fuse them together. In electric arc welding, heat is created as an electric current flows through an arc between the tip of the welding electrode and the metal. In gas welding, such as oxy-acetylene welding, the flame from the combustion of burning gases melts the metal. In both arc and gas welding, filler materials are melted and added to fill the joint and make it stronger. In resistance welding, the metal piece itself is melted as current flows through it; no filler is required.

Welders use different welding processes and fillers depending on the type of metal, its size and shape, and requirements for finished product strength. For typical welding projects, they:

  • develop patterns or follow directions given in layouts, blueprints and work orders
  • clean, check for defects and shape component parts
  • weld parts together.

Wire process operators work primarily in production and manufacturing plants, joining components and sub-assemblies. They use gas metal arc welding (GMAW), flux cored arc welding (FCAW), submerged arc welding (SAW) or other semiautomatic wire feed welding processes depending on the type of metal, its size and shape, and requirements for finished mechanical properties. For typical welding projects, wire process operators:

  • follow directions in layouts, blueprints and work orders
  • join parts together
  • clean welds and check for defects.

Welders and wire process operators also may use cutting torches to separate metals or build up worn parts by welding layers of high-strength hard-metal alloys onto them.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 17, 2017

A 40 hour work week is typical in this occupation but overtime is sometimes required to meet project deadlines. There is some risk of injury involved in working with torches and hot metals, and the resulting sparks and toxic gases.

Welders may work outdoors on construction sites or indoors in production and repair shops. Travel may be required on jobs such as oilfield-related welding. Welders may be required to lift and move objects that weigh over 20 kg.

Wire process operators usually work in production plants and metal fabrication shops. They spend most of their working hours on their feet and routinely handle items that weigh up to 10 kg.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 17, 2017

Welders and wire process operators need the following characteristics:

  • manual dexterity
  • good vision (glasses are acceptable)
  • good eye-hand coordination
  • the ability to concentrate on detailed work
  • patience.

They should enjoy building things and working with little direction or supervision.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2017

To work in Alberta, a welder or a wire process operator must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 10-2 and Math 10-3, or equivalent, or a pass mark in all 5 GED tests, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates. 

The term of apprenticeship for:

  • welders is 3 years (three 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,560 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.
  • wire process operators is 2 years (two 12 month periods) including a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training in the first year and 1,800 hours of on-the-job training in the second year.

High school students can earn credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Welder apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada). The wire process operator trade does not participate in the Red Seal program.

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • Grande Prairie Regional College in Grande Prairie and Fairview
  • Keyano College in Fort McMurray
  • Lakeland College in Vermilion
  • Lethbridge College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton
  • Northern Lakes College in Slave Lake
  • Olds College
  • Portage College in Lac La Biche
  • Red Deer College
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary

NAIT and SAIT also offer technical training by distance delivery.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Apprenticeship Trades

Lakeland College

Lethbridge College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 17, 2017

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 17, 2017

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Welders are employed in industries involved in: 

  • vessel or structural steel assembly
  • pipeline construction
  • commercial construction
  • industrial construction
  • steel fabrication 
  • heavy equipment repair.

Wire process operators are employed in industries involved in: 

  • manufacturing vessels
  • structural steel fabrication
  • general steel fabrication
  • truck body fabrication
  • heavy equipment repair.

In this trade, employment prospects change with seasonal and economic climates.

Experienced welders and wire process operators may move into inspection or supervisory positions. Some welders open their own repair shops, or work as portable rig welders who contract out their services. Some wire process operators open their own manufacturing plants or production shops. Alberta certified journeyperson welders who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Welders and wire process operators are part of a larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7237: Welders and related machine operators. In Alberta, 76% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth(work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 20,100 Albertans are employed in the Welders and related machine operators occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.3% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 261 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As welders form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for welders. 

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 17, 2017

Journeyperson wage rates for welders vary but generally range from $25 to $40 an hour plus benefits (2014 estimates). Apprentice welders earn at least 60% of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 75% in the second and 90% in the third.

Wage rates for wire process operators vary but generally range from $15 to $25 an hour plus benefits (2014 estimates). Apprentice wire process operators earn at least 60% of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year and 75% in the second.

Welders are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7237: Welders and related machine operators. 

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Welders and related machine operators occupational group earned on average from $31.47 to $43.57 an hour. The overall average wage was $37.04 an hour. For more information, see the Welders and related machine operators wage profile.

 

Related High School Subjects
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Fabrication
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 17, 2017

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: tradesecrets.alberta.ca

BuildForce Canada website: www.builforce.ca

Calgary Construction Association website: www.cca.cc

 

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 29, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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