Skilled Trades

How Have Welding Jobs Changed in the Last 100 Years?

Skilled TradesNovember 21, 2018

Perhaps the most obvious change is that women now have been accepted into the ranks of welders. One hundred years ago, that would have been unheard-of.

Otherwise the actual job of welding – joining two materials together to form a strong and lasting bond – remains basically the same. What has changed are the technologies being used and the various kinds of materials welders today can join. Welding’s no longer just a steel-to-steel thing.

When first performed more than a thousand years ago, welding was a lot more difficult because the knowledge and tools largely were lacking. Welders pretty much heated metals and hammered them together – like a blacksmith. In fact, welders back then were known as blacksmiths! The 19th Century saw the invention of the electric generator, which led to a number of welding advances, but the biggest changes started about 100 years ago, during the First World War.

Demand was heightened and welders sought faster and better ways to meet wartime needs. That led to development of the electrode, along with flash butt, resistance, projection, spot and seam welding…and the profession was off and running.

The last 50 years, or so, have witnessed an explosion of new welding technologies, from electron beam, friction, plasma arc and friction stir welding, to explosion, laser beam, computerized and robotic welding techniques. Since 1957, numerous new, more productive techniques have been introduced.

While spot welding has become a primary, go-to process because it is simple and relatively inexpensive, but effective, use of ultrasonic welding has grown exponentially because of its flexibility as the acoustics of the process become more fully understood. And, as computer processing power improves and digital servers become even more reliable, automated, or robotic, welding likely will become even more prevalent.

It’s an interesting time to be a welder, to be sure, but one in which welding is playing a growing role in many manufacturing sectors. If that sounds like an appealing career to you, you should learn more about the skills it requires and the opportunities it can offer. A good place to start is our Welding Program page. Fortis offers Welding training programs that can start you toward a profession that’s looking for new multi-skilled welders. Check us out!