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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Welders and Related Machine Operators (7237)

Please note that a new Essential Skills Profile is available for Welders.

Welders operate welding equipment to weld ferrous and non-ferrous metals. This unit group also includes machine operators who operate previously set up production welding, brazing and soldering equipment. They are employed by companies that manufacture structural steel and platework, boilers, heavy machinery, aircraft and ships and other metal products, and by welding contractors and welding shops, or they may be self-employed.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read the relevant section of company policies to understand the procedure for requesting time off. (2)
  • Read WHMIS materials to find out how to handle hazardous materials such as gas. (2)
  • Read equipment and safety manuals that describe safe operating procedures, e.g., how to operate hand-held grinders. (2)
  • Read posted memos about safety concerns in the workplace. (2)
  • Read safe work permits to learn the safety guidelines and operational procedures for a job. The permit also provides a general description of the job and specifies what must be done before the worker can start welding in order to make the work site safe. (2)
  • Read codes and specifications, for example, Canadian Standards Association (CSA) W59 and, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Section IX, to prepare for welding projects. (3)
  • Read detailed welding procedures specifications developed by governing bodies, namely the ASME, and the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB). Welders must follow the procedures exactly as specified, for instance, use the correct rod type, weld to the specified thickness, use the recommended gas. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Use checklists to learn and follow proper work procedures and safety guidelines, e.g., follow instructions about how to properly rig a load so that it is secure and will not fall when in transport. (1)
  • Observe signs in the workplace that communicate safety information such as signs showing where there are high noise levels. This information serves as a reminder to workers about the need for hearing protection. (1)
  • Observe colours of pipes and lines in the workplace that indicate their contents, such as type of gas. (1)
  • Observe the tag on each work project to identify its status, for example, welding complete, welding repair, priority. (1)
  • Track the progress of projects on route travellers or drawings by checking off listed tasks as they are completed. (1)
  • Identify the capacity of rigging by referring to the markings (e.g., stamp, metal plate, tag) on the equipment. (1)
  • Compare colour coding on metals to a colour code chart in order to identify its grade and alloy. (2)
  • Fill in invoice forms or reports for employers showing tasks completed, materials used, the hours worked and how much to charge customers. (2)
  • Read posted memos about safety concerns in the workplace. (2)
  • Complete time sheets or a daily log, recording information such as the job number, the blueprint number, the weld identification numbers from the blueprint, welding procedures used and the time completed. (2)
  • May read maps to locate a new work site. An oil company will often provide a map showing company roads in remote locations. (2)
  • May observe digital photos of other projects on a computer screen to review the layout and welding procedure with the supervisor. They discuss with the supervisor how the layout and welding procedure of these projects could be altered to suit the needs of a current project. (3)
  • Review notes on blueprints and/or welding procedures specifications (WPS) to review messages from the engineering department about materials and procedures. (3)
  • Interpret and continually refer to diagrams and tables on blueprints, which may be up to 8 pages long, to determine material requirements and measurements; the type, size, location and starting position of welds; the welding process (e.g., flux core); and other engineering requirements. Much of this information is communicated via symbols and numbers. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Fill in invoice forms or reports for employers with tasks completed, materials used, the hours worked and how much to charge customers. (1)
  • Record any changes made to the specified parameters on the work sheet, e.g., different wire speed. (1)
  • Complete time sheets or a daily log, noting information such as the job number, the blueprint number, weld identification numbers from the blueprint, welding procedure and time completed. (1)
  • Complete accident and incident reports for the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB). (2)
  • May write safety guidelines for operating company equipment. (3)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • May prepare invoices for clients noting the cost per unit (e.g., $50/hour) and then multiplying the cost of each unit by the number of units provided to calculate the charge for materials and labour. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure degrees of angles by using a level with a digital readout. (1)
  • Add various combinations of a structure's pieces prior to ordering materials for a project in order to avoid ordering excess amounts. For example, calculate how to get the maximum number of pieces out of a 60' length of pipe. (2)
  • Measure pieces for structures using International System of Units (SI) to the Imperial measurement system; and convert measurements from both systems. (2)
  • Calculate the dimensions of structural members (e.g., pipe, steel) in cases where allowance has to be made for fittings. The "take off" and "make up" dimensions have to be added to and subtracted from the overall dimension to arrive at the length of structural piece needed. (2)
  • Calculate the volume, diameter and circumference of tanks when fabricating pieces for them. (3)
  • Take measurements of elevations using a builder's level and tape measure during construction to ensure that components (e.g., piping) are level. (3)
  • Calculate "offsets". They use trigonometric constants to determine the length of the hypotenuse. For instance, to calculate the length of a pipe that goes on a 45 degree angle for a horizontal distance of 2 feet, multiply 2 feet by the constant 1.414 to determine the diagonal distance. (4)
Data Analysis Math
  • Check bills or requisitions to ensure the amount of materials is accurate. (1)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the quantity of consumables, such as welding rods or wire, required to complete a job based on the volume of welding to be done (2)
  • Estimate the weight of a load for rigging by considering its size and density. (2)
  • May estimate the cost of work by considering the amount of materials and labour required and their price per unit. The complexity of the estimation is influenced by factors such as ease of access to the weld locations, the types of materials, and the welding process used. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Give directions to truck drivers picking up and dropping off material. (1)
  • Communicate with tool room staff to ask for tools, supplies and personal protective equipment. (1)
  • Ask co-workers, for example an apprentice, other journeyperson welder, a pipefitter, or a millwright for assistance with a task such as lifting or to provide information. (1)
  • Communicate with a partner about the size and fit of the pieces, and compare measurements and calculations when building a structure. (2)
  • Contribute ideas about tasks and safety issues at production meetings. (2)
  • Discuss work assignments with the supervisor to understand expectations. (2)
  • May give informal presentations to students or to customer groups, if requested by management, to explain the set up of the operation and describe the projects taking place. (2)
  • Coach apprentices by demonstrating and explaining the use of equipment such as drill presses, brake boards, cranes, and drill punch machinery. (3)
  • May explain welding designs to customers to help understand why structures were built in a certain way and appreciate the quality of the work. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Receive blueprints with measurements that do not add up. Welders report the discrepancy to the supervisor, draftsperson or engineer. This may result in the job being placed on hold until the discrepancies have been studied and reconciled. (1)
  • Have to take projects apart when an incorrectly sized piece (e.g., flange) has been inserted. The piece may need to be cut out and sent back to the manufacturer for re-cutting. (1)
  • Follow procedures that are inaccurate, resulting in a structure's pieces not fitting together properly. If it is a minor problem, the welder works with the supervisor to decide on a solution. (1)
  • Have to work in difficult conditions such as bad weather or awkward locations, in particular welding above the head and at the bottom or back of a structure. In order to complete the work expected by the client or supervisor, welders need to generate unique solutions depending on the situation and structure such as organizing suitable protection. (2)
  • Solve problems with distortion caused by unequal expansion and contraction of materials during the welding process. Welders must decide how to address the weld sequence to minimize distortion by considering factors such as heat input, the configuration of the structure, and the type of material being used. (2)
Decision Making
  • Decide on the best location to place rigging equipment when preparing a load for transportation. (1)
  • Upon receiving a work assignment, decide whether they have enough information to start the task immediately or whether they need to gather more information first. (2)
  • Decide on the most efficient use of materials during construction to minimize waste. (2)
  • May decide on the best way to approach a job in consultation with supervisor and any work partners, such as the best way to construct a piping system at a gas plant. (2)
  • Decide when and how to control the temperature during the welding process to avoid metallurgical problems, in particular cracking. The knowledge needed to make these decisions is acquired through training and by observing and remembering the performance of metals during previous welds. (2)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Generally, welders are assigned work by their supervisor who informs them of the priority of tasks. There is frequent resetting of priorities by the supervisor. For example, it is common for a welder to be called away from one project to work on another.

Welders are responsible for organizing their work and setting up the work area properly. They must gather materials and equipment required for the procedure and set up the equipment following established steps.

Although approximately 80% of welders' work is done independently, they need to coordinate their work with others, including apprentice welders, fitters and other trades people. In a plant or shop setting, welders must share equipment such as cranes, saws and grinders with co-workers. If the equipment is not available when desired, the welder needs to work on alternative tasks until the equipment is available.

Significant Use of Memory
  • Memorize measurements for repeated welds as specified on the blueprint for the duration of a project.
  • Remember the capability of various types of welding rods and the best technique to use with each type.
  • Remember how materials perform and react under the application of heat. For example, welders must remember how much to allow for weld metal contraction.
  • Remember the location of co-workers and hazards, such as mobile equipment and loads being transported, for their own safety and the safety of their co-workers.
  • Memorize the sequence of steps for setting up welding equipment.
  • Recall welding procedures that are frequently used.
Finding Information
  • Receive clarification about work assignments, such as procedures and material to be used, by asking supervisors. (1)
  • Identify the type of electrode by looking at the specifications printed on its side or packaging. (1)
  • Look up specifications for welding procedures on data sheets developed by the engineering department. These specifications are based on code. (2)
  • Read company policy manuals to determine employee benefits and responsibilities. (2)
  • Refer to safety manuals and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) materials to learn about safe work procedures. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Input data and operate plasma cutting machines, orbital welders and other computer controlled equipment. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

The majority of welders' tasks are completed independently, but they must work with other team members, including fitters, other welders, and supervisors, to plan work, confirm measurements and calculations, assist co-workers with tasks, and to schedule the sharing of equipment.

A journeyperson may coach and receive assistance from apprentices. They may also be partnered with someone from another trade, such as a fitter, to co-ordinate their tasks on projects so that steps are completed in the right order.

Continuous Learning

Welders are required by various codes (e.g., CSA, ASME) to retake practical tests within a specific period of time. Study and practice may be required in preparation for these tests and employers typically allow time for this on the job. Various training programs, books and manuals are available through technical institutes and authorities such as the Canadian Welding Bureau.

Welders may also attend sessions hosted by suppliers about new products, such as grinding wheels, welding rods, gases. Employers also provide training that is specific to their company, the type of work and location. Examples of company-specific training include company policies, confined space entry, helicopter safety, and H2S gas. As innovations in consumables such as gases and rods, equipment, welding applications and processes are frequently introduced, welders must upgrade their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis. Some welders pursue learning on their own time such as researching technical information on the Internet.

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