For some lucky individuals, finding a career path is as easy as following the trajectory they were on from grade school: Lawyers might be in this category, or actresses, or teachers. But for the rest of us, finding the right career can mean following a winding road until we hit on the best fit for our skills, talents and interests.

If you’re still looking for your personal career niche, you might consider the field of welding. Read on for more details on what you’ll need—both in your personality and your education—to follow this particular career path.

Personality traits          

There are three different types of learners: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. For those who fall into the latter category, a career in a hands-on field like welding is often satisfying and stimulating. You also need to be someone who enjoys doing physical labor most of the day, as you’ll likely be on your feet quite a bit. A talent for mechanical and mathematical tasks like taking measurements and calculating angles will also come in handy as a professional welder. And of course, the ability to withstand heat and follow basic safety protocols is a must.

Education

Most welding jobs require a minimum of a high school education, including mathematics classes like algebra and geometry. You also may want to consider completing a course at a technical or vocational school to learn about procedures and welding equipment; doing so could give you an edge over other applicants for entry-level positions. From there, it’s a good idea to pursue a welding certification from the American Welding Society in order to gain credibility and to be eligible for the best paying jobs.

Career path

You’ll likely begin your career as a welding apprentice, working under those more experienced than you. With a little time and patience, you’ll eventually be able to pursue positions in your welding discipline of choice. This might include shielded metal arc—or stick—welding, TIG welding, FCAW welding or MIG welding. Each requires a different skill set, and most welders specialize in just one or two areas. More than likely, you will be required to maintain your certifications over time, so keep that expense in mind as you calculate your earnings.

Understand the risks

As with most any job that involves physical labor, there are some risks involved with becoming a professional welder. Long-term exposure to extreme heat and light can take its toll, and welding often produces potentially harmful fumes. Your risks might vary depending on which welding specialty you pursue, so do a bit of research to help you understand what you’ll be faced with.

A career in welding can be rewarding and gratifying for the right person, but it’s certainly not for everyone. With any major career choice, it’s important to give the matter some real thought before jumping into any decisions. If you think you might have what it takes to be a welder, use the above information as a jumping-off point for your career path.

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