Welding & Metalwork
If a school leaver has good hand-to-eye coordination, practical skills and technical ability and effective problem-solving skills, then welding and metalwork could be a good career for them to consider.
If they have good creative and design skills, for decorative work, effective communication skills and maths skills for measuring and making calculations, then they’ll be at an advantage in pursuing these careers.
School leavers going into welding careers will work with metals and alloys, and learn to cut and join composite materials, such as plastics, using specialist welding methods. They will therefore need an understanding of safe working practices.
A welding worker’s day-to-day tasks could include:
- Setting out the materials to be cut or joined
- Following engineering instructions and drawings
- Inspecting and testing cuts and joins, using precision measuring instruments
- Operating the semi-automatic spot-welding equipment used in high volume production lines
Welding professionals get the chance to work in a range of interesting industries. They will usually work in the construction and engineering, transport, aerospace and offshore oil and gas sectors.
They might be repairing manufacturing equipment and machinery. You'll wear protective clothing, an apron, face-shield and gloves. They will use breathing apparatus for underwater welding work or a safety harness when working at height.
They may have to work in cramped conditions or bad weather, like when making repairs underneath a ship or if working on an offshore pipeline.
School leavers going into metalwork careers will use all kinds of metals and alloys, from gold, silver and steel to copper, bronze and tin. Some might specialise and become silversmiths.
A significant majority of metalwork designers work as freelancers. Some junior-level designers, however, do occasionally find employment with manufacturers and retailers of metal products for commercial use.
School leavers entering this profession will be utilising both manual and mechanised processes. Firstly, they will be conceptualising and creating designs in accordance with your customer’s brief or coming up with their own ideas.
Then, they’ll be preparing detailed drawings, specifications and scale models before the hands-on ‘making’ starts. This part of the design process is especially important if the actual production is done by other professionals.
Welding & metalwork apprenticeships
School leavers wanting to access this industry can do so via apprenticeships.
There are welding & metalwork apprenticeships Intermediate Apprenticeships (Level 2) available in roles like production processing, service centre operations, testing technicians and metals handling.
For those with A-levels or who have completed an Intermediate Apprenticeships there are advanced Apprenticeships (Level 3) in roles like materials scheduling and production planning, production processing and team leaders, laboratory and testing technicians and structural steelwork fabricators.
There is even a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) offered as a Nuclear Welding Inspection Technician (NWIT). These professionals perform a quality control and welding inspection role for the nuclear industry.
They ensure the safety and integrity of nuclear related fabrications to meet the exacting quality requirements specified in nuclear industry regulations, specifications, standards and detailed engineering documents.