Welders join or 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, and no filler is added.
Welders use different welding processes and fillers depending upon the type of metal, its size and shape, and requirements for finished product strength. For a typical welding project, they:
- develop patterns for projects or follow directions given in layouts, blueprints and work orders,
- clean, check for defects and shape component parts, sometimes using a cutting torch, and
- weld parts together.
Welders may also build up worn parts by welding layers of high-strength hard-metal alloys onto them.
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Welders work in a wide variety of work environments. They may work outdoors on construction sites or indoors in production and repair shops. Travel may be required on jobs such as oilfield-related welding. A 40-hour work week is normal, but overtime is sometimes required.
There is some risk of injury involved working with torches and hot metals and the resulting sparks and toxic gases.
The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy building things and working with little direction or supervision.
To be successful in the trade, welders mst have:
- manual dexterity
- good vision (glasses are acceptable)
- eye-hand coordination
- the ability to concentrate on detailed work
Welders are employed in a variety of industries including vessel or structural steel assembly, pipeline construction, commercial construction, industrial construction, steel fabrication and heavy equipment repair. Employment prospects for welders change with seasonal and economic climates.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $25 to $40 an hour plus benefits.
Experienced welders may advance to positions such as welding inspector, welding foreman or supervisor, or plant supervisor. Some open their own repair shops, or work as portable rig welders who contract out their services.
To work as a welder in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.
Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.
The term of apprenticeship for a welder is 3 years (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1560 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the welder trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application. For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).
To learn the skills required of a welder in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:
- satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
- find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
- complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
- pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice welders earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 75 percent in the second, and 90 percent in the third year.
- complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for welder apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training.
Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.
A Welder who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.
For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.
Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.
A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.
However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.
More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.