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A structural welder is a skilled worker who creates frames or skeletons for large structures such as buildings or bridges. This worker differs from a pipe welder in the types of projects he or she will take on, as well as the methods by which the welding is done in some cases. A structural welder must undergo extensive training to learn how to weld materials together safely and effectively; most welders will go through some sort of apprenticeship period that will last up to five years; during this time, he or she will work with a more experienced welder to learn the skills required for the job.
Certain certifications may also be required. The structural welder will need to undergo training and education in order to prepare for certification exams that will qualify him or her for an apprenticeship or a full-time position. A trade school, technical school, or vocational school may offer education courses so a person interested in becoming a structural welder can get the required training. It is very likely that the candidate will need to have completed a high school education or equivalent qualification; in some cases, this may not be a requirement, but the candidate will still need to develop basic math and communications skills.
The apprenticeship may be granted or arranged by a private company or by a local labor union. The structural welder will often have the opportunity to join a union that can help arrange an apprenticeship and ensure the welder completes all necessary steps of the certification and apprenticeship process. Private companies will offer training to employees, though the specific steps in the apprenticeship process may vary. The structural welder will be an apprentice for several years as he or she learns more about the job; once the apprenticeship is complete, the welder will complete all certification to be considered a journeyman welder.
A structural welder is likely to work for a construction company on large projects. Steel frame buildings, bridges, and other structures that are load-bearing are usually constructed by structural welders. The welder will need to know how to use various types of torches and welder units that are suitable for specific types of materials and applications, and he or she may work in hazardous conditions. All appropriate safety equipment must be worn at all times; such equipment will include a welding mask, fireproof gloves, a welding apron, and steel-toe boots.
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