Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2018: 25,000 to 50,000
Salary Range
Median weekly earnings: $1001 to $1200 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
There are approximately 5400 people working as boilermakers/welders in South Australia. Majority of persons currently employed in this occupation are males. The main age group of workers is between 35-44 years. Employment is largely full-time. The main employer for this occupation is the Manufacturing industry.
  • Welding has been used in thousands of manufacturing activities and is the most common means of permanently joining metal parts. Welders construct or repair metal products by sealing parts using different welding methods.

    They may also cut, shape, join and finish metal to make, maintain or repair metal products and structures. They can also produce moulds or patterns for metal castings, apply coatings and work with a variety of materials.

  • Currently 60% of those employed in the industry have either a Certificate III or IV qualification. While 33% have no post school qualifications it is strongly recommended that further study be undertaken to remain competitive when seeking employment.

    TAFE SA offers short courses relevant to this occupation such as Gas Metal Arc Welding (MIG) Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG) Basic, Intermediate and Advanced or Welder's Theory. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

  • These tradespersons find employment in the construction, shipbuilding, mining and oil and gas industry.

    Boilermakers trained in structural fabrication may be involved in fitting, assembling and joining aluminium and steel in the construction or repair of towers, bridges, structural supports, girders and ships.

    Welder - First Class who constructs or repairs metal products by joining parts either manually (using a variety of welding methods including electric arc, MIG and TIG welding or oxy-acetylene welding) or by machine. These parts are used to complete structures and equipment (e.g. ships, bridges, pipelines, vehicles and domestic appliances).

    First class welders may specialise as special class welders, welding a range of metals (e.g. mild steel, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminium, copper, brass, diecast metal and magnesium). After further assessment, first class welders may specialise as pressure welders, assembling, welding and repairing pressure vessels such as storage tanks, pipelines and gas cylinders to special test standards.

  • The intense heat created by the electrical current causes the metal part and steel core of the rod to melt together. This cools quickly and results in a solid bond. During welding, the flux (welding wire) that surrounds the rod's core vaporizes, forming a gas that serves to protect the weld from atmospheric elements that might weaken it. The three other more common welding methods are flux cored, submerged arc and TIG arc welding. MIG and oxy-acetylene are some of the other methods used. The type of method used depends on the type of work being undertaken. For example, flux cored welding is typically used for shipbuilding activities whereas all four of the more commonly used welding methods may be used during the construction or repair of pressure vessels. Pressure vessels are round cylinders which are to be welded longitudinally. The vessel will already have been tack welded by a boilermaker and after it is set up on rollers, run-off tabs are put on. These enable welders to continue welding past the end of the joint. It gets welded from the inside first, rotated and then welded from the outside.

  • Welders also join beams used in the constructing of buildings and bridges and join pipes in pipelines, power plants and refineries. Manual welding (where the work is controlled entirely by welders) or semiautomatic welding where machinery such as a wire feeder (this is used to add filler metal during semiautomatic welding) is carried out by welders and can be used on a range of metals including mild steel, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminium, copper, brass, magnesium and die cast metal. More experienced welders generally work from drawings or specifications. They also select and set up welding equipment and examine welds to ensure they meet specifications. Less experienced welders generally perform more routine tasks that have already been planned and laid out and do not require extensive knowledge of welding techniques. Welders also check welded products for defects and build up worn metal parts by welding layers of high strength hard-metal alloys onto them.

  • Craig, a First Class boilermaker/welder and workshop manager says that among the various welding methods used, manual metal arc welding (or stick welding as its known in the industry) is a commonly used method. Arc welding involves two large metal alligator clips carrying a strong electrical current. One clip is attached to any part of the work piece (metal part) being welded while the second clip is attached to a thin welding rod. When the rod touches the metal part a powerful electrical circuit is created. Craig also recommends that people interested in this occupation demonstrate excellent hand eye coordination and that they be able to perform an ongoing high standard of work. They should also like to work with their hands and be able to concentrate on detailed work for a long period of time. According to industry representatives the demand for welders is currently strong and anticipated to remain so for several years.

    For further information, contact:

    Manufacturing Skills Australia
    Phone: 1800 358 458

    Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (SA)
    Phone: (08) 8366 5800

    Engineering Employers Association, South Australia
    Phone: (08) 8300 0133

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online