Brazers, Cutters, Solderers, and Welders: Tough, But Exciting Work

Are you looking for excellent job security combined with geographical flexibility? Do you have little interest in books and the kind of theoretical learning people do in a four-year college program? If so, you may be interested in a job in welding, cutting, brazing, or soldering. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers all use equipment that manipulates metal with heat. This means working with an arc welder or perhaps a plasma cutter. Welders, solderers and brazers weld or otherwise join together metal parts and seal holes, dents, and seams in metal. For instance, they may fuse two pieces of a car together. Cutters deploy equipment that cuts with high heat. They use these machines to cut metal or trim it to specific dimensions. Cutters are also called upon to dismantle derelict properties like ships, bridges, airplanes, railroad cars, automobiles, and buildings. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers often work in large, open-floor factories, but sometimes they work outdoors and sometimes in small, confined areas such as air shafts.


Do you have what it takes? Brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders must be strong and fearless. They need good stamina because they must hold an arc welder or other heavy equipment for hours at a time. They must also be able to work at high altitudes–sometimes on unfinished buildings and they must sometimes assume uncomfortable positions in order to get the job done. For instance, if a welder is called upon to seal a hole in a crawl space, he may have to work in cramped conditions positioning himself however possible to apply heat to the rift. Brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders must have excellent manual dexterity, and they should be able to understand blueprints. They should have good eyesight so that they can see flaws in metal. An attentiveness to detail is a good characteristic, as well. Brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders operate potentially dangerous equipment. They must be safety conscious and religiously observe all company policies regarding worker safety. They must usually wear protective headgear that saves their faces from catching fire from the sparks set off by the abrasive action of their equipment. They must also monitor their equipment to make sure that it is not overheating and therefore not likely to break or explode.

The average age of welders, cutters, brazers, and solderers is rising and few young people have joined their ranks. So, many industries that rely on these hard hat professionals are anticipating a crunch. In the years ahead, manufacturing companies may be hungry for people with the aforementioned skills. So, even though growth in this field is slower than average, competition for workers may be fierce which could improve wages in these fields. Annual wages for brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders are on the low end. In 2012, the average salary for these laborers was $36,300.

Brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders generally do not have to attend much college to succeed in their fields. Employers do prefer high school graduates, however, and some high schools offer courses in “shop” which may include some of the skills needed in this field. Some employers offer on-the-job training. In other cases, would be brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders may take training courses that last only a few weeks. People who are interested in pursuing this field, post high school, should research vocational and trade schools, community colleges, or private schools that offer an appropriate program. Future brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders may also receive the needed training for this field in the United States military. The advantage of this training is that it is provided free of charge; the disadvantage is that the military requires a several year commitment. Students in these programs should expect to take courses in shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, blueprint reading, and metallurgy. Coursework in chemistry and physics may also be theoretically useful.

Brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders are well advised to learn computer skills as well to preserve their jobs against increasing automation. Given the right technology skills, a welder, cutter, solderer or brazer could leverage his abilities into a supervisory position overseeing a robotics-driven manufacturing process. Brazers, cutters, solderers, and welders are also well advised to learn the basics of electrical systems.

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