You’ve probably seen images of beautiful sparks flying off machines, with a person wearing heavy protective gear working the machines. Welding is the chemical process of melting and heating sculptures and forming a new shape or figure by fusing the melted parts together. It is very focused and skillful work, and usually needs years of training and apprenticeship to become an expert at. Welding requires extremely high temperatures that melt the base material of the pipe or materials that are being exposed to the heat. The molten material, when cooled, solidifies into whatever form it was set out in, making an all-new figure. Sometimes, an additional material, called a filler, is used to join the two pieces effectively.
Contrary to popular belief, welding is not only done for metals. There are various other materials that welding applies to; for example, wood and plastic. There are several types of welding available and various uses for them. One specialty and niche in welding is combo welding, which is the process of preparing materials to be welded, welding metal parts, and performing maintenance work on welding torches and other equipment.
What Does a Combo Welder Do?
You might have seen a bunch of job postings for combination welders, but you’re probably wondering by now, “What does a combo welder do?” All you need to know is that a combination welder is someone who is responsible for making, repairing, and maintaining metal parts, including pipes. They do this through the use of specialized equipment. Combo welders are often preferred on construction sites, where they assist with the welding of the beams and other structural components.
The job duties include making welding material, making precise measurements, reading blueprints and specifications, and keeping the welding components in check.
You might hear some people describe combination welders as welders who know how to do both TIG (Tungsten inert gas) welding and Stick (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) welding. While this might not be the only way to define a combination welder, it’s true that combination welders are required to be trained in multiple welding techniques, where they can work with various types of steels and alloys.
Combination welders usually utilize a variety of machines, tools, and equipment, which means that they need to be trained in a variety of welding techniques, as well as how to use the required equipment.
Difference Between Pipe Welders and Combo Welders
Since so many people confuse combination welders with pipe welders, here is how they differ. The difference is quite basic.
Pipe welders join and repair pipes, working in cramped positions and extremely harsh climates, sometimes in the freezing temperatures of the north or several feet underground in the heat. Pipe welders usually employ only stick welding or MIG welding on the pipes that they work on.
On the other hand, combination welders additionally use more complicated welding techniques like TIG welding and work in all sorts of environments and fields, such as construction sites, automotive industries, and aerospace facilities. Working at high altitudes or below ground, you have to be adaptable to everything. Combination welders are also trained in a variety of welding processes, such as arc welding and oxyfuel welding, all of which are part of their job description and come into play during their work.
An Analysis of Combination Welding Jobs
In 2012, the BLS reported that there was a 6% increase in the job demands for welders, cutters, and solderers and predicted that the rise in demand is going to continue well into the next decade. The demand is the highest in states such as Alaska, North Dakota, Washington, Louisiana, and Wyoming. This should encourage many young people to consider a career in combination welding. Another attractive part of the job is that combination welders can enter into any industry, as almost all industries require the skills of combination welders in one way or the other.
Right now, according to a survey, a large majority of combination welders in the US are male – 85.5% of the professionals in this field of work are men. However, combination welding is a line of work that more and more women are choosing and pursuing, with schools and institutions opening up that teach the skill and make the necessary vocational training available and accessible.
Today, there are several schools, the most popular one being Tulsa Welding School, that are offering courses in welding. Interested people can take to these schools to learn and hone their skills as welders, and go on to get high paying jobs as combination welders. On average, combination welders make $57,500 per year, which is a handsome package. Their job satisfaction levels are also reported to be pretty good.
The top skills required for combination welding are:
- Safety Compliance
Through further training and on-the-job experience, a combo welder can enter into any industry they please.
Duties and Responsibilities of Combo Welders
- Calculate dimensions of parts that require welding
- Clean all materials that need to be welded
- Ensure compliance with safety protocols
- Examine all materials and structures before welding
- Ignite welding torches or start any power tools that will be used
- Inspect and test welds to identify any problems or flaws that need to be fixed and to ensure weld is clean and smooth
- Inspect equipment for defects and keep them working at their best
- Maintain and preserve all equipment and machinery
- Monitor the welding process to make sure nothing overheats, distorts, or shrinks during the process
- Study blueprints, sketches, or specifications for the welding job
- Weld materials according to the blueprints and specifications using proper techniques and equipment
Where Do Combination Welders Work?
Since the bonds made by welding are so strong welding is used to build structures such as ships and planes. While combination welders can take up jobs in a variety of industries, the most common and important ones are the following:
- Automobile manufacturing
- Oil and gas
- Repair and maintenance
- Specialty Trades
With a combination welding diploma from a reputed school, you can enter whatever industry you want.
How to Become a Combination Welder
The starting point for your career as a combination welder should ideally be at a welding school that equips you with the knowledge and training that is needed to secure a future in this field. A welding school will teach you:
- Basic welding skills
- How to work with welding machines and tools, such as a chipping hammer, MIG pliers, and wire brushes
- How many welding methods are there
- Safety precautions while welding, such as the use of welding jackets, safety glasses, ear protection, and welding helmets
- Risks associated with combination welding
- The importance of safety equipment in welding
- Symbol Drawing
- Arc Welding
Students are taught through a combination of classroom sessions and vocational training labs and workshops, where they can get hands-on experience of what they have learned in the classrooms.
After you have successfully completed your diploma in welding, you will have to undergo an apprenticeship period, where you will work under someone’s guidance and mentorship, until you are ready to go out and work for a welding company.
Pros and Cons of Becoming a Combination Welder
While a combination welding career might seem very attractive right now, there is one significant downside to it. The job poses a high risk of injury as the work requires you to deal with dangerous machinery, high temperatures, and unusual working locations. If you comply with the safety rules, there should be no problems, but the risk of getting injured at work is higher than in many other jobs.
If you are undeterred by the risk involved, and you enjoy challenging work experiences, then you might be the right fit for a combination welding career.
What are TIG and MIG?
Welding has four main types of wildings and two of them are TIG and MIG. MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas Welding and TIG stands for tungsten Inert Gas Welding.
What are the qualification criteria to get a good welding job?
The minimum qualification is a high school diploma or equivalent education. Though it varies from employer to employer, most of them prefer post-secondary welding education or an apprenticeship.
How long is the welding diploma?
The duration of the welding diploma depends on the school, but most take around 6-8 months, on average, before handing out certifications.