Welding has been around for over 2000 years in one form or another. It is a crucial technique within the metal fabrication world. But with other sheet metal machinery tools and methods becoming more popular, is this old art form losing its place in modern society? Or is there a future for it yet? In today’s blog, we’ll be having a look at whether or not welding is a profession worth following.
Welding is predominantly performed by older people
In the U.S, the average age of welders is around 55 years old. Of the 450,000 welders in the United States, less than 20% of them are under the age of 35. It is feared that there are not enough welders to replace the current batch, forcing many of them to delay their retirements to continue to do what not many young people can.
The problem seems to be that even if young people study welding, many of them are offered jobs before they can complete their studies. The temptation of going into a paying job without finishing the course is great – even though they can earn much more by completing the course and learning more skills.
This is not just happening in the USA, but also here in Australia. Weld Australia is working with Tafe institutions – which have not been receiving sufficient funding for proper welding courses – to improve the quality of the courses. This is in the hope that the future generation of welders can have the necessary skills to work on large scale projects and government defence contracts. The reality is that at the moment, welders are being outsourced from overseas to fill these positions, not because we lack the welders, but because they lack the skills.
Testing welders for jobs cost’s around $1000 per test. This can cost companies a great deal when it is required each time there is a job. Especially when the failure rate for AS 1554 is 80% and almost 100% for ISO 9606-1. The constant testing, just for them to most likely fail, is something that can be avoided with the appropriate training. This is something that Weld Australia is hoping to fix with their new partnership with Tafe’s in Australia.
So, are welding jobs on the rise?
Yes. It seems like they are on the rise. Unfortunately, though, there just aren’t enough people to fill the spots. The U.S Bureau of Statistics has estimated that the welding industry will grow by 26% by 2020. As 80% of welding students are offered jobs before they even graduate, it makes it harder for the industry to move forward.
Hands-on experience is extremely useful to have when it comes to things like welding and sheet metal machinery but learning new skills and adapting modern welding gear is not something that can always be learnt out on the job. A lot of the higher paying and more technically demanding welding jobs are not being sufficiently filled because a lot of today’s welders end up leaving their course without finishing because of the temptation of a job.
Is it a worthy career to go into?
Not only will there always be welding jobs that need filling locally – but also internationally as well. If you learn the right skills, treating it as a career as opposed to just a job, then it can take you all around the world. The pay does vary based on your skill level but for the more experienced and knowledgeable welders, the rewards can be quite attractive, as it can be quite dangerous at times.
It’s important to note that underwater welding is considered amongst one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Even welding a gas pipeline during its construction is deemed a difficult task that favours the more veteran welders. So, yes. Welding is a career worth going into as there are many jobs going around. But that being said, it does seem like the art of welding itself may be on a downward slope with the current generation of welders being – on average – less experienced and lacking the patience to learn more techniques that could further their careers and knowledge.
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