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Working as a Welder

Job Description

Working as a Welder you will perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Arc welders use electricity to melt the edges of two metal objects and then connect them
  • Gas welders use a blowtorch to melt the edges of pieces of metal and then fuse them together
  • May melt a third piece of metal to act as a sort of glue
  • Read and interpret blueprints or welding process specifications
  • Operate manual or semi-automatic flame-cutting equipment
  • Operate metal shaping machines such as brakes, shears and other metal straightening and bending machines
  • Repair worn parts of metal products by welding on extra layers.
  • Maintenance and repair of welding, brazing and soldering equipment
  • Welders may specialize in certain types of welding such as custom fabrication, ship building and repair, aerospace precision welding, pipeline construction welding, or equipment repair welding.

Source: National Occupational Classification (NOC 7237)

Industry Overview

There is expected to be a good number of job opportunities for welders in BC.

You may find a job quickly if you are highly skilled as a welding machine setter and operator. The greatest demand for welder jobs will be in construction-related manufacturing, such as architectural and structural metal fabrication, and the natural resources sector, over the next few years.

Source: WorkBC Career Profile: 7237

Job Outlook in BC

Welders and related machine operators, NOC 7237

job outlook for welders

Chart from Work BC

The Employment Outlook for BC provides job openings projections for welders within BC regions:

Region 2010
Estimated Employment
2015
Estimated Employment
Avg Annual % Change, 5 Years, 2010-2015
Vancouver Island 1,610 1,750 1.8%
Lower Mainland /Southwest 4,230 4,770 2.5%
Thompson-Okanagan 1,310 1,430 1.7%
Kootenay 410 410 0.3%
Cariboo 470 530 2.4%
North Coast & Nechako 210 280 6.9%
Northeast 280 300 1.6%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions [accessed October 2014]

You can learn more about working as a welder in BC from:

Types of Employers

As a welder you may work for:

  • manufacturing / factories
  • machine shops
  • construction sites
  • oil and gas rigs and pipelines
  • welding contractors and welding shops
  • self employed

Those working in manufacturing may work at: sawmills; pulp and paper mills; mines; shipbuilding or aircraft manufacturing facilities; other metal products.

Salary

In BC, the average annual salary for welders and related machine operators is between $44,000 and $53,000. Salaries for welders depend on job requirements, work conditions and location.

Journey-level welders often earn around $19 to $32 an hour. Highly experienced welders can earn $50 an hour, depending on what type of welding is required. Those working on pipelines make up to $100,000 a year.

Source: Career Cruising database

Job Bank Canada, Wage Reports, provides hourly wages for Welders in BC regions:

welder regional wages

Chart from Job Bank Canada, Wage Reports, [search 7265]

Working Hours

Most welders work 40 hours per week. If you are working in mills, factories and processing plants you may be required to work nights / weekends, or do shift work.

Welders in the construction industry often relocate to different job sites, sometimes in remote regions. Short periods of unemployment between projects are common for these workers.

Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • good manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination
  • good analytical ability
  • high level of design sense
  • solid understanding of computerized machinery
  • ability to follow instructions precisely
  • strong technical and artistic interests
  • comfortable with heights

Education and Experience

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • Certification is available in BC but not required

Qualifications

This is not a regulated profession in BC

Trade certification is not mandatory in B.C., but it will likely increase your job opportunities. You can become certified by completing a three year apprenticeship program through BC’s Industry Training Authority (ITA). Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of work experience and technical training. You must find an employer who is willing to sponsor you in the program.

Once you complete the apprenticeship program and successfully pass the Interprovincial Red Seal exam (the final exam for this trade), you become certified as a welder. You also receive the Red Seal endorsement, which allows you to work as a welder anywhere in Canada.

Challenge Certification/Recognition of Prior Experience:

If you have significant work experience as a welder but have never been certified in Canada, you may apply to challenge the certification. This includes completing 6,750 hours work in the trade and successfully writing the Interprovincial Red Seal exam.

More information:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

  • Indeed.com
    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For welders, look for these related job titles:

  • welding technician
  • brazing machine operator
  • arc welder
  • journeyman/woman welder
  • laser welding operator
  • pressure vessel welder
  • soldering machine operator
  • spot welder
  • welder apprentice
  • welder-fitter

Source: NOC

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers who employ welders in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • British Columbia Business to Business directory
    Browse through companies listed under Section 2 – Industry (welding)
    Available at the Central Library, CB380 B8622
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “welding” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following pathfinders:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Welding and construction associations in BC and Canada provide assistance and information on training and certification. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Industry journals provide information about trends in the industry. Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library: