A gas tungsten arc welder, otherwise abbreviated as GTAW, is a person who conducts gas tungsten arc welding. This is a type of welding which is done using tungsten electrodes which are responsible for producing the weld. This process comes with production of harmful fumes and therefore should be conducted only in well-ventilated spaces.
Owing to this dangerous nature of this type of welding, a tungsten welding expert commands decent pay. On average, a GTAW makes $17.09 per hour. This comes to about $35,590 a year on average. A more experienced welder can attract up to $26.19 per hour (about $54,490 annually). Those who are even more experienced can get paid way much higher.
What is Gas Tungsten Arc Welder and What is their job?
To practice tungsten welding, you need a tungsten arc welder. This welding machine, also referred to as the TIG welder, works with the tungsten electrode to make an arc between the electrode and the piece you are working on. The heat produced in the arc melts the workpiece metal base and the filler material used, making the joint needed as they cool.
These machines are used for thin materials like aluminum or stainless steel. They are also used for welding areas that are difficult to reach. The machines come in different sizes for various welding applications.
How much money can you make as a Gas Tungsten Arc Welder?
A tungsten arc welder makes a median salary of $44,610 per year according to the latest Bureau of Labor statistics. The top 10% of these welders make more than $79,780 per year, with the lower 10% making an annual salary of $28,070.
This means that even though there is a wide range of salary potential for these welders, the average welder can expect to make a decent salary from their skill. Besides, these expert welders also receive benefits on top of their salary, including health insurance and retirement savings. You can rest assured that you will make a decent income as a tungsten arc welder.
A gas tungsten arc welder makes up to $26.19 an hour ($54,490 a year) which is quite high above the average $17.09 an hour ($35,590 a year) for the average tungsten arc welder. If you are even more experienced, you will command way higher rates than these.
What are the benefits of being a Gas Tungsten Arc Welder?
As mentioned earlier in this post, tungsten arc welding is a fairly dangerous kind of welding. It can, however, be used in almost any metal including stainless steel, aluminum, and nickel alloys. It is a versatile kind of welding but required top skill and great care to safely do it.
Besides, it also produces very high-quality welds with minimal distortion. This makes it a very ideal welding option where precision is required. It is perfect for the aerospace and nuclear power space. This also makes it quite expensive. It is also a bit time-consuming compared to other types of welding but the benefits outweigh the costs.
How to become a gas tungsten arc welder
To become a tungsten arc welder, you will need to have completed high school or gotten a GED certification. You will also need to train and get accredited for welding, having passed a welding certification test.
A majority of community colleges out there offer a two-year welding technician program. These classes offer both classroom and laboratory instruction. Once you complete these classes, you get tested via a performance qualification test and accredited, becoming a certified welder.
Be advised to go to an accredited welder education program. You do not want to go through two years of training only to learn that the final result cannot get you on the path to being a tungsten arc welder.
Types of Welding Certifications
You can go with an underwater welding certification, aerospace welding certification, pipe welding, or rig welding certification. These certifications will set you up for a successful welding career. The underwater welding certification is particularly interesting as it leads to underwater welding jobs also called wet welding. This attracts good pay.
Master Welding Skills
To be a great tungsten arc welder, you will need to master a number of skills. These include reading and interpreting blueprints, understanding welding process specifications, properly and accurately estimating size, type, and quantity of welding equipment and consumables needed, as well as proper setting up of welding equipment including voltage setup and current specifications understanding.
Besides this, you need to understand metals and how they relate to welding. Be great at cleaning and maintaining welding equipment in top shape and performance, while also following safety guidelines.
AWS Certification (Optional)
Further, if you want to have an edge over most other welders, pursue the optional voluntary certification by the American Welding Society (AWS). Passing these exams gives you a title on your resume that allows you be seen as a recognized expert in the welding industry.
Gas tungsten arc welding is a skilled trade that requires knowledge, experience, and training. Those who are interested in becoming a gas tungsten arc welder can do so by completing a high school diploma or equivalent, an accredited welder education program, passing a welding performance qualification test, pursuing voluntary AWS certification (optional), and renewing certification every few years (optional).
What skills and knowledge do you need to be a successful Gas Tungsten Arc Welder?
Good to note is that a majority of employers will require that you have at least a year of experience as a welder before they can hire you as their tungsten gas arc welder.
Some skills you can work to acquire include a firm grip of the welding process including proper set up of welding gear, striking arcs, and maintaining consistent welds. You also need proper psychomotor control for good manipulation of the welding equipment for perfect welds. Finally, you also need a deep knowledge of various metals and alloys to be able to offer the right welding technique for each metal.
To be a well-paid tungsten arc welder, get a high school diploma or a GED certification. Then go for welding training and pass the qualifications tests. Finally, ensure you have at least a year’s experience before going for the top-paying positions. Doing these three things will guarantee you a great income as a tungsten gas arc welder.