Arc welding pretty much explains itself by its name. An electrically heated arc is used to melt materials and join them together which is powered by a power supply within the electrodes. It seems quite simple when put into words, but is it the case when it comes to learning it? If you’re here then I must assume you are wondering, is arc welding hard?
Arc welding can be a bit difficult to learn as it requires high precision and is quite difficult to master. But, with the proper practice and time, just like another skill, anyone can master the art of arc welding. You just need to be super determined about it.
Arc welding is definitely one of the harder welding techniques to learn and has a relatively steep learning curve. In this article, I will talk about the difficulty of learning arc welding a bit more in-depth and also provide some tips on how you can learn it properly. So, let’s not waste any more time and jump right into the facts.
How Hard Is Arc Welding?
First things first, arc welding is just not about theory. It requires first-hand experience and actual skills that need to be learned through time and sweat. Sometimes there may be blood unless you’re careful with those hands.
Anyway, arc welding is quite delicate, to make it easier to understand, think of it as some sort of craftsmanship that will require your hands to naturally produce the art. This of course will require dedication, time such as months or years if needed.
Now, does that make arc welding hard? Yes, to some, because it is a subjective matter. Some people may find it difficult to learn a few things. However, arc welding is no rocket science when it comes to knowing about its theories. It’s more of a skill that needs to be acquired through hard work and sweat.
As it may come to you as a surprise, not everyone may be a fan of spending time, money, and sweat. So, to them, arc welding may come off as difficult to learn or even start. However, between you and me, just know arc welding can be nailed if you’ve got your heart and mindset on learning it.
Now let’s talk about the parts that make it a difficult process to learn. I’ll keep them brief, as not to make it seem too scary unlike most articles about arc welding being hard to learn.
These are the major factors that primarily define arc welding’s difficulty.
Time and Practical Experience
As mentioned above. Unless you are willing to set aside some time to do welding with a proper kit and apply all attained arc welding knowledge, then you can’t gain sufficient experience.
Be sure that you are always active and don’t go out of touch. Not attending welding classes or not paying proper practice will not breed good results.
If something is too good to be true, it may not always be the case. This applies to welding as well. Welding may give you money but just know your credit card won’t be doing very well either. You will constantly need to invest in safety equipment, maintenance of accessories from time to time.
Other than that, you will have to spend a huge amount of initial money on arc welding kits and machines. If you try to buy cheap, second-hand machines then you definitely will suffer from losses in the long run. I understand that investing may not always seem the right fit for everyone. Especially when you have to keep investing for years before you can profit from it.
In this case, arc welding can also require you to take courses and much more which may be difficult for some people to meet. Hence the money factor is an important factor that may make arc welding difficult for some people to manage.
Not Being Taught Properly
Whether you’re learning through welding college, company, or online. A great instructor will always come in handy. However, we may not always be lucky when it comes to landing our Mr. Miyagi. Sometimes you may be provided the choice of being taught by a weak instructor.
In these cases, it is best you back off and always focuses on choosing the right training facilities and instructors. If you don’t spend your time finding out the best welding schools or companies to become an apprentice at, then you will find arc welding difficult. This will certainly make you want to quit halfway through or put more effort than you had anticipated.
Hazards and Risks
Welding falls into one of those riskier tradesmen ship activities. Thus, you will not only have to know what you are doing at all times and be careful but you will also need to be brave. Some types of arc welding are even done underwater, in narrow corners and claustrophobic areas.
Having a brave heart can certainly be of use in the long run once you pursue arc welding on a much more professional level. However, even at hobby levels, certain risks still follow (source).
Can You Learn Arc Welding By Yourself?
Is it possible to learn arc welding by yourself? Attending a welding school or taking up an apprenticeship is the best way to learn to weld. Welding is dangerous work and learning from scratch all by yourself increases the chance of a serious accident.
Arc welding is quite intricate and it’s for the best to leave it in the hands of pros to help us learn more about arc welding. However, I understand that not everyone may weld to pursue a career. Welding can also be considered a hobby.
Hence if you want to do small-scale arc welding from time to time. Then yeah, as long as you follow proper instructions you can always manage to do some arc welding with a little effort.
If you know the basics about arc welding then you should be aware that MIG and TIG are categories of arc welding. There are many more industrial types available as well. However, the easiest type of arc welding that you can learn by yourself is MIG welding.
Grab a mask, a welding kit, a gas cylinder, some gloves, and start making beads on scrap. A MIG setup is the easiest to pick up for beginners, you can read articles, books, watch videos or even hire a local welder to teach you the basics for a week.
After you have learned the basics it’s all about putting in effort and practice on a daily basis. The concept isn’t hard to grab on but mastering arc welding surely is. You need to build your own sense of what your product should look like and you will need to rely on your intuition if you want promising results.
This is why I don’t suggest you learn arc welding by yourself, although it may not be impossible, it still won’t be advised. Now does that mean the best way to learn the trade of arc welding is best left in the hands of professionals? Well, sadly yes, for now.
Doing welding courses at community colleges, taking apprenticeships are where it’s at. To learn more about how you can effectively learn arc welding, read the next section of this article.
Tips On Learning Arc Welding
Alright so do you think you have what it takes to become a master of arc welding? Thought so. Well, I won’t sugarcoat anymore about what’s in store for you when it comes to the art of arc welding. I’ll just jump straight ahead into giving your proper tips on how you can properly learn it and then eventually master it.
1. Develop Good Hand Eye Coordination
You need to have length hand-eye coordination, this is because arc welding will constantly have to maintain the speed of your electrical arc, adjust angles and manage its exposed length.
You can develop good hand-eye coordination by doing plenty of fun activities. Play catch, learn to juggle and even play video games. The focus is to make your hands do exactly what is needed without focusing on them. Your eyes should be set on the objective and your hands should work almost instinctively and efficiently.
Good hand-eye control is essential when it comes to arc welding. When handling arc welding kits, your hands should be strong and steady, and they should synchronize well with your eyes. Watch with your eyes and get a proper measurement of how much you should be moving your hands while welding. Any misstep can either spell a disaster or injury so beware!
Having good hand control will also benefit your early arc welding training sessions and further strengthen your skills. If you can assure yourself of having these attributes, then arc welding will barely cause you any trouble.
2. Be Determined
I can’t argue this enough, before learning any new welding technique, this is the single most important factor to consider. You must always be conscious of the necessity to stay current on new equipment, and you must devote a significant amount of time and practice to arc welding.
True, welding training can assist you, but only to the extent that you can assist yourself by taking some steps to practice on your own.
Talk to individuals, meet local welders, and tour local welding shops. Arc welding is certainly worth a try. Borrow an arc welding equipment from a friend and explore how it feels in your hands. Watch others weld (first and foremost, don’t try welding on your own without proper training and supervision) to get a sense of how difficult it might be for you.
3. Research On Various Types of Welding
Just like any tradesmen’s activity, there will always be more than a single type of welding type available. For example, arc welding is majorly split between two types, consumable and non-consumable electrode methods.
There are a lot more options available when it comes to sub-genres, such as TIG, MIG, MAW, PAW, SAW, etc. All these are split majorly across the two types of electrode methods.
Each of those choices is intended for persons with a variety of skill sets and expertise. Whatever you think you have a talent for, take a chance for it. However, keep in mind that not all types of arc welding are suitable for everyone, therefore sacrifices will be required.
4. Attending Welding courses
These can be easily done as long as you have a minimum high school diploma or GED. However, welding courses are where it’s at if you want to master arc welding. Though I believe, practical hands-on experience is where it’s at, you still need to do these courses to learn the theories and verify your expertise in arc welding.
Various community colleges and welding programs can help you attain a welding certificate in a span of 6 months to 2 years. Learning more about different sorts of arc welding, how they work and the responsibilities that come with it are crucial. These can also help you stay more precautious once you do dig into welding.
You can also study from the internet through blogs, articles or talk to a professional arc welder to get a hint. However, I would always suggest attending these courses to get more in-depth knowledge.
5. Becoming a Welder’s Apprentice
Oh yeah, welding is akin to sorcery, and if you’re looking for work, you’ll need to become an apprentice. It’s all about getting hands-on welding experience while being supervised. The actual gold mine for gaining jobs is learning to gain practical experience.
You can work as an apprentice for a company and then continue working there if they hire you after you finish. Whatever you learn throughout your apprenticeship will undoubtedly serve you well for a long time.
Your apprenticeship will certainly give you all the practical knowledge and train you to properly arc weld. This is the best way to learn and certainly will require the most of your attention. So, whatever you do, never take apprenticeship lightly!
6. Maintaining the amperage and calibrating electrode sizing
Before welding, it is crucial to calibrate the amperage and electrode size. The size and type of electrode you use will usually decide the amperage.
A low amperage results in more sticking. Sticking isn’t something you want. Burn-through and excessive noise may occur if the amperage is too high. Even when held at the proper distance, the arc may go out or stutter.
7. Electrode manipulation
Each welder manipulates the electrode in a somewhat different way. By observing others, practicing, and noting which tactics generate the best results, you can develop your style. You also either replicate your apprentice’s manipulation style to weave or make beads on various materials.
Knowing how to control and manipulate your electrode arc is important when welding. This will require more practice than good hand-eye coordination.
8. Preparing the Material
While arc welding on dirty or rusted metal may not result in dire consequences, it is still advised that you don’t use that as an excuse for not properly cleaning the material. Remove any debris, filth, or rust from the welding area with a wire brush or grinder of your choice before you weld to ensure safety.
Skipping these stages will only reduce your chances of getting a good weld. Cracking, porosity, lack of fusion, and inclusions can all be caused by unclean circumstances. Make sure the power supply and all the other stuff are properly cleaned as well. A clean and top-notch electrical connection system will surely help you attain a remarkable arc welding experience.
9. Positioning yourself
Placing yourself in a position so that you can see the weld puddle is essential. To guarantee you’re welding in the joint and keeping the arc on the leading edge of the puddle, keep your head off to the side and out of the weld fumes.
Ascertain that your stance allows you to weld comfortably and safely and only then can you begin your welding.
So, is arc welding hard? Arc welding is quite difficult and has a much higher skill requirement than most other welding techniques. So, I discourage you to take it all upon yourself to learn it. Either get into a good welding school or just find someone to teach you how to weld.
If you want to learn more about the art of welding, then feel free to check out our other articles. Remember, proper research, knowledge, and practice are the keys to mastering welding. And you’ll have to do a lot of that before you can call yourself a good welder. I wish you all the best for your welding adventures ahead.
Thanks for reading this article and I hope you properly utilize all that you have learned from this article.