There’s a lot of pride and hard work that goes in to being a welder that not many get to truly experience. Different factors can contribute to whether or not someone is cut out for the job. Yeah, it can be labor intense, but it can also be very rewarding when you step back, pull your hood up and see the finished product that you helped create.

That’s important: feeling accomplished and proud of your job. Think about how many hours a day, a week or even 10 years that we spend working. Do yourself a favor and make sure it’s something worthwhile so you can feel satisfied when looking back.

When deciding on becoming a welder, there are some steps you can follow to help ensure your path to employment. You want to do a little research beforehand about the different types of welding methods that would suit you, or what industry you’d like to be in. And coming from a steel structure manufacturing background, we can tell you that there is an abundant amount of growth and opportunity in welding careers.  

You also want to make sure that the company you seek employment through for welding has a strong sense of safety, making it their number one priority. It’s also a good idea to check to see if the company offers any welding training courses or is willing to help point you in the right direction.

Community College with welding programs in Louisiana: Central Louisiana Technical Community College(CLTCC)

  • Offers a welding course of 120 hours for free at their Oakdale campus
  • Offers a welding course of 120 hours at their Alexandria campus, for a fee
  • Other CLTCC campuses that offer welding courses include: Huey P. Long Campus, Lamar Salter, Oakdale, Ferriday and Ward H. Nash Avoyelles. 

There are many different methods to welding, so figuring out which one sounds most interesting to you is important. Below we’ve listed 5 common welding methods in the steel structure industry:

1. Mig Weld (Metal Inert Gas)

2. Tig Weld (Tungsten Inert Gas)

3. Stick Weld

4. Oxy Fuel Cutting

5. Flux Core Weld

MIG Weld- The term MIG welding is generally used to describe a gathering of most wire welding processes. Inside this group you will find the main processes associated with production is GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding). There are 4 modes of GMAW, with the most common one being GMAW-spray. GMAW-spray is currently one of the most used forms on the market, as well as one of the hottest and best penetrating forms of welding. Your street clothes don’t last long due to the heat and uv rays associated with this mode though! For production, the GMAW process is a good choice because it is cost efficient and speedy. However, due to requiring a decent size setup to run this method, as well as shielding gas, positions and weather could limit where and how this method is used. For example, being outside, 200 feet up in the air on a crane with strong winds wouldn’t work well for GMAW welding.

TIG Weld- stands for tungsten-inert gas welding and is mainly associated with thinner and special metals like aluminum. It has very low heat and is also easy to control.  This method uses gas, a tungsten torch, and typically a filler rod.  Because of the torch and rod, this method generally requires both hands to perform.  TIG welding is slightly expensive and can be one of the slower methods because it requires great hand and eye coordination. (Which by the way would be a great PLUS on any welder’s application.)

Stick Weld- This method is considered “old school,” since this is pretty much where it all began. The technical name for stick welding is SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding).  It requires no gas and can be used in a variety of different circumstances. The rods that are used are fairly inexpensive, but are very strong. This method probably isn’t the most efficient in production due to the amount of time it takes to stop and change rods, and since the rods must be stored in ovens at a certain temperature.  Another challenge is making sure you have the right rod for the right job (there are countless different rods.) However, this is an excellent repair procedure because usually repairs are small and there is no limit, so you can weld outside, high in the air, underwater and so on. (Kinda like your old reliable pick-up may not be pretty but it’ll get you where you need to go everytime!)

Flux Core Weld- This method is similar to the MIG processes because it also uses wire electrodes and it is one of the more common methods behind GMAW.  Flux core arc welding, or FCAW for short, is a self shielded process that creates a slag on top of the welds which has to be cleaned in between passes.  The main difference is the inside of the wire: everything has chemical components associated with it for strength purposes and different steels welded together. For FCAW, the flux, which protects the weld metal from atmosphere, is located on the inside of this wire. (Hence the name flux core.) The flux cored wire comes in many different chemical makeup’s and therefore can be used in production to meet special needs, like different materials. This method doesn’t quite have the range of heat that GMAW-spray has, but it is still beneficial in special cases. While this method is considered fast, it is not as penetrating as GMAW-spray.

Oxy Fuel Cutting-  This is not necessarily a welding method, but it is a process that is closely associated with welding and is quite often an extremely beneficial job skill for welders in the steel fabrication industry.  This is the process used to cut steel. It’s usually associated with two gasses, one source of ignition gas (mainly acetylene) and one source of pressure gas to blow the steel away (oxygen). It’s fairly simple to use, however safety is a big concern when using this cutting method. It can be dangerous in the sense that there is generally a lot of hot particles being blown away and requires work areas to be clean and free of any flammable materials.  Another concern to be aware of is that all bottles of cutting gas are pressurized and must be protected from contact.  If the top of a bottle were to get knocked off somehow, it would be equivalent to a missile going off!   

*Content contributed by Jeffery Trapp, Quality Control Supervisor for DIS-TRAN Steel, LLC. 



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