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Welder - Wire Process Operator


Welder-wire process operators work primarily in production and manufacturing plants, joining components and sub-assemblies to make various items using a variety of construction materials.

Welding in this branch of the welder trade is restricted to Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW), Submerged Arc Welding ( SAW) and other semiautomatic wire feed welding processes.

The welder - wire process operator uses different welding processes and filler metals depending upon the type of metal, its size and shape, and requirements for finished mechanical properties.

For a typical welding project, they:

  • join parts together,
  • may build up worn parts by welding layers of high-strength hard-metal alloys onto them,
  • follow directions given in layouts, blueprints and work orders, and
  • clean welds, check for defects and may use a cutting torch.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.


Working Conditions

Welder-wire process operators work in a wide variety of work environments, but mostly in a production plant setting. 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 fumes.


Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy building things and working with little direction and supervision.

To be successful in the trade, welder - wire process operators must have:

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


Employment and Advancement

Welder-wire process operators are employed in a variety of industries including manufacturing vessel or structural steel fabrication, general steel fabrication, truck body fabrication and heavy equipment repair. Employment prospects for Welder-Wire Process Operators change with seasonal and economic climates.

Wage rates vary, but generally range from $15 to $25 an hour plus benefits.

Experienced welder-wire process operators may advance to positions such as journeyperson welder, welding inspector, welding foreman or supervisor, or plant supervisor. Some open their own manufacturing plants or production shops.


Working in Alberta

To work as a welder-wire process operator in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.

Welder - wire process operators learn their skills by registering with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training to participate in apprenticeship training. Upon successful completion, they are awarded the Alberta Journeyman Certificate.

A welder-wire process operator who holds a valid recognized credential that does not have a Red Seal may apply for:

Welder-wire process operators who:

  • hold a credential that is not recognized or is no longer valid in an Alberta-designated trade, OR
  • can demonstrate their experience, skills and knowledge in an Alberta-designated trade, and meet the standards and requirements established by the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board.

may be eligible to apply for trade certification under the Trades Qualifier Certificate Program.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.


Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a welder - wire process operator is 2 years (two 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training in the first year and 1800 hours of on-the-job training in the second year.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the welder-wire process operator 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 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-wire process operator in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

  • 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 welder-wire process operators earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year and 75 percent in the second year.
  • complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
  • successfully complete all required (See Exam Counselling Sheet)
  • Technical Training Resource List
    • Each period of technical training requires apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
    • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training.  

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.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

The welder - wire process operator trade does not participate in the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program.


Qualification Certificate Program

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.


Equivalency Program

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.

Click for more information on the Equivalency Program.