Signs Your Career Passions May Be Fulfilled Through Welding School

January 12, 2021

welder technician training

Looking for a rewarding career that can teach you many new skills and allow you to work with your hands to build and fix things every day? Welding might just be the right choice for you. Should you decide to pursue a career in this field, going to welding school can help set you up for a future in this profession. A great welding training program can teach you about the trade through both a theoretical and practical lens.

Those who pursue welding as a career path can open themselves up to a hugely gratifying profession. Here are some reasons why you should consider welding school to fulfill your career ambitions.

Welding Is a Fantastic Career, Especially if You Have the Personality For It

Are you a patient, creative, hard-working individual who relishes the challenge of working in an intense environment? Welding is a career that caters to exactly these kinds of people. Welders are typically subjected to a large amount of smoke and heat, all while wearing heavy protective gear like coveralls and a mask. This type of work requires a great amount of endurance, as well as the knowledge and instincts to be able to join metal pieces together with the utmost care and accuracy. As a trained welder, you might have opportunities to work in several different industries after completing an apprenticeship, such as: manufacturing, oil, construction, architecture, and more. If any of these job prospects interest you, welding could be a great fit for your professional career.

welding training
Welding involves working in intense conditions, but is hugely rewarding as well

Taking a Welding Diploma Program Can Teach You Many Lessons About the Trade

If you’re looking for a way to gain the foundational knowledge necessary for success in the welding industry, starting your welding training is your ticket. At NATS, our welding program offers students the opportunity to learn about the trade over 55 weeks. During the program, you can learn about concepts such as welding processes, equipment, safety standards, blueprint reading, and positional welding. Furthermore, students at NATS can use our on-campus labs for hands-on learning. Here, processes like MIG (Gas Metal Arc Welding) and TIG (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) welding are learned through the use of modern equipment. This helps give students practical, real-world experience before even setting out to work in the field.

welding school
Those who choose to enter the welding field don’t require a university degree

You Won’t Need Prior Experience to Get Started in Welding Training

At NATS, some students come to the welding program having already gained a bit of welding practice beforehand. “I chose to study welding, because I did it in high school,” says Emily Harrison, a graduate of NATS’ welding program. “I’m a bit of an artist, and I wanted a little bit more knowledge and a little bit more practicality for the future.”

However, those hoping to attend welding school should also note that they don’t need any prior experience to get into the program. Even without any base knowledge of the trade, taking a welding program can provide you with the training to open you up to various career opportunities, often starting out as an apprentice welder to further sharpen your skills in such roles as ironworker, boilermaker, pipefitter, and more. Not only do you not need experience or a university degree to enter the field, but you also have a wide range of career choices available to you—making welding a great choice for fulfilling your professional aspirations!

Do you want to begin your welder technician training?

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Skilled Trades

5 Safety Best Practices for Pros with Welding Technician Training

November 19, 2020

Welding, while a safe profession when the correct precautions are taken, involves many risks and hazards. Welders can work with high temperatures, gases and fumes, electrical voltage, sparks, and ultraviolet rays. In order to protect themselves against explosions, burns, fumes, eye damage, and more, welders must ensure that they are following safety best practices. If you’re thinking about becoming a welding operator, make sure that you’re aware of these safety tips in order to ensure that you’re always staying safe on the job.

Those with a Welding Career Should Stick to a Routine–Before, During, and After a Welding Job

Before beginning any welding job, it’s important to cover all your bases to ensure that the area you’re working in is as safe as possible. Welding operators should always review their operating manual, which contains all the safety information and regulations provided by the manufacturer. 

Make a list or mental note of things to check for before, during, and after your welding project. If you’re in a welding career, check for any hazards before beginning your project, such as flammable materials nearby. Make sure to check the equipment you’re working with. Is it functioning properly? Could you injure yourself accidentally on nearby equipment? Do you know where everything is for easy access? During your project, stay mindful of surfaces or surrounding materials that could be hot and should be avoided. After you’ve finished the job, make sure to clean up your workspace. Return all equipment, and ensure that there’s no possibility of a fire occurring.

Wear the Right PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Welders should never begin a project without wearing the right PPE (personal protective equipment). Your PPE will keep you injury-free and protect you from burns, vibrations, and exposure to ultraviolet rays. Your PPE should consist of cotton clothing treated with flame-resistant properties. Wear leather boots that cover your ankles, and never roll up your sleeves or cuffs or unbutton your shirt, which can allow skin to become exposed to sparks or enable sparks to catch in cuffs or pockets, where they can burn. When welding, always wear safety glasses with side shields to protect your eyes from debris and sparks, and always wear protective gloves. Wear a helmet equipped with the proper shade lens for your project to prevent exposure to arc rays, which can cause painful injury to eyes and skin.

Welders should always wear proper PPE to protect themselves from sparks and burns

Ensure You’re Using Proper Ventilation

If you’ve attended welding school, you’ll understand the dangers of overexposure to welding fumes. In order to avoid this, make sure that your workspace is equipped with proper ventilation systems to remove fumes and gases from the breathing zone. Adequate ventilation will depend on the type of base metal and rod you’re using during your welding project, as these contain different levels of metal oxide compounds. It’s likely that your employer will provide a ventilation system, but make sure to wear a respirator unless you’re sure that exposure levels are below safety limits.

Take Precautions to Prevent Fires

Welding arcs can pose a lot of danger due to the intense heat and sparks they create. Make sure you remove all flammable materials from your work environment or cover them with a fire resistant material before beginning. Check to make sure you know where the fire extinguishers and alarms are located, check that they are functioning, and identify the fire exit nearest to you. If welding near flammable materials, have someone keep an eye on the sparks. Always stay in a work area for at least 30 minutes after finishing a project to ensure that the sparks created will not start a fire.

Since welding causes sparks to fly, ensure that proper precautions are taken to prevent fires in your workspace

Stay Dry to Prevent Electric Shock

Welders should take great precautions to ensure that electric shock doesn’t occur, as shock can result in injury or death in serious cases. Electric shock can occur by contact with an electric circuit, which commonly occurs when two metal objects that have voltage between them are touched, or when secondary shock is experienced from a welding circuit. Always inspect electrode holders for damage before starting a project, checking that they are properly insulated, which ensures that the welder will not touch the hot parts within the electrode holder. Be sure to wear gloves and PPE that is completely dry when handling electrodes or electrode holders. 

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5 Facts About Gas Tungsten Arc Welding for Welding School Students

October 20, 2020

welding careerIn the welding world, gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)—also frequently referred to as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding—produces welds via a process using tungsten electrodes. A shielding gas protects the weld pool area from air pollution, and inert gases such as argon, helium, or a mixture of the two are used.

Due to the high level of precision in this form of the trade, GTAW is typically reserved for high-quality jobs requiring more attention to detail. It’s also the form most appreciated by experienced welding practitioners, due to its ability to turn out stronger welds with cleaner, more artful results and higher integrity.

To understand more about GTAW welding, let’s take a look at five interesting facts about this method.

1. It Takes Longer to Master Than Other Welding Types

The finicky welding method of GTAW requires a lot of practice to perfect. In fact, it’s usually only attempted once a welder has a solid grasp in some of the more basic forms of the trade, such as metal inert gas (MIG) welding.

The more complex GTAW procedure requires a non-consumable tungsten electrode to run a current through the metals the technician is looking to weld together. After the metals have been liquified by the heat of the electrode, the filler material is hand-fed into the weld pool. Those interested in a welding career should know that this method is slower to perform than more basic “point and shoot” one-handed weld methods, and is a lot more difficult for inexperienced users to accomplish.

2. It Requires a Lot of Focus

Any type of welding is reliant on lots of concentration to avoid mistakes and accidents. If you’re attending welding school, you’ll be interested to hear that GTAW welding requires an even sharper level of focus. Both hands are needed to work on a GTAW job, with the welding torch in one hand and the filler material in the other.

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A steady hand and sharp focus are needed on GTAW jobs

A lot of concentration and a steady hand are needed to feed the wire as the operator attempts to move smoothly through the weld. The clean results at the end of this painstaking process come from a lot of patience, along with razor-sharp focus to prevent mishaps and unsightly errors.

3. Its Ability to Apply Controlled Heat Allows for Cleaner Results

On GTAW welds, a foot pedal controls the electricity coming to the torch, allowing for a level of deep penetration and accuracy that prevents the arc weld splatter one might get with a more basic type of welding. This control of the heat allows for much cleaner results—perfect for more advanced, high-precision jobs. 

The welder doesn’t even necessarily need filler material here to get a successful join. This is important to remember, as welding requiring any filler material is usually a messier procedure. The precise metal-to-metal welds that GTAW welding enables allows for the operator’s desired smooth, clean surface. Producing an aesthetically-pleasing pattern and uniform bead, these welds often need no more than a light polish to finish.

4. It’s Ideal for Working on Stainless Steels

GTAW is well-suited to working on thin sections of light metals, including magnesium and aluminum. The method is particularly favourable for use on stainless steel welds. This is partly due to the aesthetics of these jobs, where the uncoated fabrication of the material means the weld remains exposed for the world to see. Additionally, stainless steels are a more expensive metal type, requiring significantly tidier finishes.

5. It’s More Expensive for Welding Career Pros to Complete

Due to the level of precision and attention to detail required, a GTAW weld is one of the most time-consuming jobs to complete. The process also has a low deposition rate to consider, with this rate measured in pounds per hour, deposited at a particular welding current. Additionally, a lot of GTAW welding equipment is at least twice as expensive as more basic tools of the trade. 

Factoring in the time required from the highly-skilled welder multiplied by the hourly rate, plus the cost of resources needed on higher-quality jobs, these welds are much more costly to complete than other forms of the trade.

welding diploma
Many welders find GTAW to be the most rewarding form of welding

Interested in pursuing a thriving career by earning your professional welding diploma?

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What Those in Welding School Should Know About TIG and MIG Welding

October 02, 2020

Welding School Both MIG and TIG welding are procedures that use electrical arcs to create enough heat for melting down metals into liquids. Both methods use filler material to join metal pieces together, and inert gas is also used to prevent welding electrode corrosion for both procedures. Despite these similarities, these welding types remain quite different in their approach, and with different purposes for their use.

Generally speaking, MIG welding is a good low-cost bet for completing jobs on steel and aluminum quickly, whereas TIG welding is typically reserved for more expensive, high-quality, and precise jobs–requiring more training to master and taking a lot longer to complete.

For a better understanding of which welding type to use and when, let’s take a closer look at both of these processes!

What Is MIG Welding?

This type of welding is often called ‘point and shoot’ welding due to its similarities to aiming and pulling the trigger on a gun. Metal inert gas (MIG) welding works by feeding metal wire continuously from a spool connected to an electrode into the weld–with wire being used to join the two metal objects together as a filler material. 

An electric current flows through the filler wire to produce an arc. While it’s touching the metal being welded, the arc is generated. With this short-circuit welding process, you move the gun at a steady speed along the joint upon starting the arc until the job is done.

Pros with welding technician training may know that MIG welding is effective on many thicker types of sheet metal. It’s also a lot easier to pick up as a trade, and a faster process than the more precise art of TIG welding.

welding courses
MIG welding is good for faster and more basic jobs, and is easier to learn than TIG welding.

What Is TIG Welding?

If you’re interested in attending welding school, you’ll eventually hear about the more finicky art of tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. Here, the metals you’re looking to weld together need to have a tungsten electrode running a current through them. Once the metals have been liquefied by the heat of the electrode, you join the pieces together by putting filler material into the weld puddle.

Unlike the one-handed use of a MIG welder, TIG welding requires both of your hands for the filler and the torch, since they are separate here. You control the electricity coming to your torch via a foot pedal, which allows for a level of deep penetration and accuracy that prevents the arc weld splatter that can result from a more basic MIG job. 

In order to feed the wire, you must have a steady hand and stay extremely focused while moving through the weld. The level of control made possible by this procedure allows for a much cleaner weld—perfect for high precision, more advanced jobs. With TIG welding, you don’t even necessarily need filler material to get a successful join.

How to Decide Which One to Use After Welding Technician Training

With any weld job, looking at some key components of the work at hand will help you decide whether to use the MIG or TIG approach. Cost is your first consideration, with TIG jobs typically being much more time consuming, and therefore more expensive to complete. To execute fast and low-cost jobs, MIG is best. 

The thickness of the metals you wish to weld is next on the list, with MIG welds generally being much more effective on thicker, bigger pieces of sheet metal than TIG. Finally, you should consider the aesthetics of the job. Welding requiring any filler material is usually a messier procedure. The precise metal-to-metal welds that TIG welding can enable is splatter-free, allowing for the smooth, neater surface you’re looking for.

welding training
Weld type depends on the size of the metal sheets, your budget, and how pretty the results need to be!

When talking about MIG and TIG welding, it’s really not possible to say that one type of welding is definitively better than another. Both procedures are necessary in the world of liquefying and joining metals, and both take a good deal of training to master—with MIG being the more basic starter skill that can later lead to performing the more precise art of TIG welding.

Are you interested in pursuing a thriving career by taking professional welding classes

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What is Flux Cored Arc Welding? Find Out at Welding School

February 12, 2020

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A professional welder is able to master multiple welding techniques specific to different metals and industries. Flux cored arc welding (FCAW) is a variant of arc welding and is often used to join heavy steel plates together.

FCAW differs from other welding processes as it can be done outside with minimal equipment and produces impressive results. It is one of the fastest manual welding processes and can produce more than 25 lbs of welded metal per hour. By comparison, gas metal arc welding (MIG) generates substantially less.

Read on to learn more about FCAW before practicing it for real in the workshop!

Learn How Flux Cored Arc Welding Works at Welder School

Similar to MIG, FCAW involves joining two pieces of metal together using heat. An electrode is continuously fed through a welding gun onto the joint. The electricity short circuits to generate heat, or an ‘electrical arc’, that causes the electrode to melt. This forms a molten puddle that joins the metal together when it cools.

Flux cored differs from other welding processes as the electrode contains a flux compound and shielding gas, which is released when heated. Shielding gas is normally made up of carbon dioxide or argon carbon dioxide, which protects the weld pool from contamination by oxygen or water vapour. This is normally added externally, however, in FCAW it is released automatically in a process called ‘self shielding’. Taking welding classes will teach you even more about these different aspects.

The Difference Between Self Shielding and Dual Shielding

There are multiple versions of FCAW, including self shielding and dual shielding. In self shielding, no external protective gas needs to be applied, as the gas released from the electrode is enough. This means that welding can be performed outside without concerns about windy weather contaminating the heated pool.

By contrast, dual shield welding uses an external shielding gas as well as the inner shield for extra protection. At welding school, students will gain practical hands-on experience performing these processes in the workshop.

The Advantages of Flux Cored Arc Welding

FCAW is a highly productive arc welding method and can weld large volumes of metal in a short time period. The electrode is continuously fed through, meaning that the operator does not need to stop and start to introduce a new electrode. Because of this, it is a common technique for welders working in the construction and maritime industries and who usually work with large, heavy metals.


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Flux cored arc welding is often used to join heavy metals in the ship industry

FCAW is one of the only welding processes that can be completed outside. It is less easily contaminated by dirt or rust because of the flux compound, and requires minimal equipment. You do not need a heavy gas bottle, meaning that welders can move around and work outside of a workshop if needed. As well as this, FCAW can be used on mid- and low-alloy steels, stainless steels, and some high nickel alloys.

…and the Disadvantages of Flux Cored Arc Welding

However, there are some disadvantages that come with flux cored arc welding. FCAW produces high levels of noxious smoke, which can make it difficult for the welder to see their work. There is also a risk of the finished metal being porous as gases escape through the metal as it cools.

In addition, the wire and filler in FCAW is more expensive than in other arc welding processes. Lastly, FCAW cannot be used on non-ferrous metal likes aluminium, meaning that it is less flexible than other welding processes out there.

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A Look at Consumable vs. Non-Consumable Electrodes If You Want to Become a Welder

November 07, 2019

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Different types of electrodes, also known as rods, are categorized based on their material, diameter, coating and whether they are consumable or non-consumable. The most common type of rods are steel, which may be mild, low alloy, or stainless, but there are also bronze, aluminum, and composite welding rods. It is part of the welder’s job to decide on which type of rods to use for different projects. The material of the core wire of a rod will depend on the type of metal being welded, also referred to as the parent material.

In order to choose the right material and type of rod, a welder must know the differences between consumable and non-consumable electrodes.  Each is used for different applications and, with theoretical knowledge and hands on experience, a trained welder will know how to make these decisions to ensure quality welds.

First: a Few Basics of Welding Training

Before getting into the specifics of consumable and non-consumable electrodes it is important to set up some foundational points for your welding training. An understanding of what flux covering (or coating) is along with what a weld pool is, will give you a greater understanding of the main differences between consumable and non-consumable electrodes.

 Manufacturers mark the different types of coating with colour codes
Manufacturers mark the different types of coating with colour codes

Flux coating is a layer of chemicals that covers the rod and burns off during welding. This produces an inert gas that protects the weld pool and solid metal from atmospheric contamination. Oxygen will weaken the bond of your joint and impurities in the weld pool can also cause problems. Typically, though not always, consumable rods have flux coating. Non-consumable electrodes usually do not, meaning they require the use of shielding gases.

The weld pool is the small coin-shaped part of a weld where the base metal is at its melting point. This is where a welder will either use filler material, in the case of non-consumable electrodes, or not use filler in the parent materials requiring consumable electrodes.

Consumable Electrodes

The key characteristics of consumable electrodes are the following: they have lower melting points, they are usually used in metal inert gas (MIG) welding, they are typically made of mild steel or nickel steel and they are used in arc welding. The lower melting point means that they melt away, or are consumed as the welder works. This also means that they have to be replaced on a regular basis.

There are four types of consumable electrodes if you are considering flux coating and they range from bare (no flux coating) to heavily coated. While there are even more variations in terms of the types of coating that may be used, overall, it is worth noting that consumable electrodes have fewer industry applications.

Non-Consumable Electrodes

As indicated by the name, non-consumable electrodes do not melt away in the process of welding. As a student in welding school you should know that non-consumables are made from materials with higher melting points. These materials include tungsten, carbon and graphite and although these materials will not be consumed during the weld, the rods may lose length due to vaporization and oxidation.

Welders get hands on experience in their training
Welders get hands on experience in their training

When using non-consumable electrodes a filler metal is necessary to make the weld pool. Shielding gases that would normally come from flux coating are also required to protect the welding area. Another factor to consider is that tungsten electrodes are more expensive than carbon or graphite electrodes. However, the choices you make will likely depend mainly on the parent materials.

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