Pipe welding is a career that doesn't require a college degree. Generally, applicants display their skills by passing a welding test. Some jobs also require welders to have their own equipment. Pipe welders can earn attractive salaries -- six figures, in some cases. But anyone interested in the work should recognize this certainly isn't a desk job.
Life on the Road
If you like traveling, pipe welding may appeal to you. Welders move with the work, often spending only a couple of weeks or months at each site. During that time, the welders live at campsites or motels, and some have mobile homes. After the job's complete, welders may head to the next town, another state or even another country. Pipe welding is an occupation that could lead you from remote parts of Canada to small towns in Texas. How much money a welder makes often depends on where he's willing to go.
Rain or Shine
Most pipeline welding jobs are full time, requiring at least 40 hours per week, and sometimes welders have to work overtime. Some people find indoor jobs, such as those working on food and beverage pipelines. But most pipe welding jobs are outside. Anyone considering this line of work should prepare to withstand varying weather conditions. Whether it's hot and humid or blistering cold and damp, pipe welders keep working.
Torches, hot metal, toxic chemicals and flying sparks are normal parts of the job. And pipe welders often work close to moving mechanical parts. Most employers are candid about the risk of injury. That's why comfort can't supersede safety.
Despite the work conditions, welders must wear certain protective gear, such as welding helmets, safety glasses and body harnesses. They must do so while meeting the physical demands of the job. A pipe welder often has to squat, kneel and crawl, and he may have to weld while lying on his back. Some welders have to lift up to 100 pounds regularly, while others have to climb and balance, sometimes while working at high elevations. Safety is clearly a major concern, and applicants can expect employers to be adamant about sobriety.
Work and Wellness
Pipe welders face fumes, dust and airborne particles. They deal with high levels of noise and vibration. Many of the work site conditions pose risks of occupational illness, including skin disorders, neurological damage and respiratory diseases. Welding fume fever, for example, a flu-like illness that can occur after welding galvanized steel, can last for 48 hours, says the Construction Safety Association of Ontario.