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Welding is the fabrication process of joining materials. One of the most common types of arc welding is shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), which is also known as manual metal arc welding (MMA) or stick welding. Electric current is used to strike an arc between the base material and consumable electrode rod, which is made of steel and is covered with a flux that protects the weld area from oxidation and contamination by producing CO2 gas during the welding process. The electrode core itself acts as filler material, making a separate filler unnecessary.
Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), also known as metal inert gas or MIG welding, is a semi-automatic or automatic process that uses a continuous wire feed as an electrode and an inert or semi-inert gas mixture to protect the weld from contamination. As with SMAW, reasonable operator proficiency can be achieved with modest training. The process can be applied to a wide variety of metals, both ferrous and non-ferrous. A related process, flux-cored arc welding (FCAW), uses similar equipment but uses wire consisting of a steel electrode surrounding a powder fill material. This cored wire is more expensive than the standard solid wire and can generate fumes and/or slag, but it permits even higher welding speed and greater metal penetration. GTAW can be used on nearly all weldable metals, though it is most often applied to stainless steel and light metals. It is often used when quality welds are extremely important, such as in bicycle, aircraft and naval applications
Retirements and job growth in the oil and gas and other industries are expected to create excellent opportunities for welders. Welding schools report that graduates have little difficulty finding work, and some welding employers report difficulty finding trained welders. The average wage of a competent and skilled entry level welder ranges from $12.00-$15.00.