Welding is really an important aspect of business in Houston, because so much of the business in the area involves the processing of crude oil and its derivatives. This can include oil refining, petrochemicals, chemicals, and oil/gas processing. In these industries, there are lots of separations; that is, light hydrocarbons need to be separated from heavier hydrocarbons. The separations can be repeated over and over until the lighter components go to make stuff, like gasoline, jet fuel, and kerosene. The in-between products, like raffinate, are sent downstream to petrochemicals.

Seldom are these process done at low temperatures and pressures; sometimes they are done at very low pressures, even vacuums, but that is not usually the case. Regardless of the pressure, some type of containment item is required for the separation to take place, this is called a vessel. If the pressure inside the vessel, is 15 pounds per square inch above that of atmospheric pressure, then the vessel is called a pressure vessel. This is important because if the pressure inside the vessel is over that 15 number, then usually it must follow ASME Code Section 8. For the welder to work on the certified vessel, then s/he must be certified, and the inspector overlooking the welding must be certified, too. The welding is critical at this point.

Nearly half the states in the USA do not require ASME certification of vessels, but local cities can require this certification on their own. Independent companies can require this. In some cases, even foreign companies that have their vessels fabricated sometimes want an ASME stamp of certification on their equipment. The law may be fuzzy in this regard but ASME certification is highly valued and a welder must be certified to do that work.

Salary.com says that the median salary for an entry-level welder is about $37,000 annually, and most welders only have a high school diploma, however, training is required. Training normally falls under the domain of your local community college, like Lone Star College System, Houston Community College, San Jacinto Community College, Wharton County Junior College, and Lee College across the bay in Baytown. If the academic environment is not for you, you can also go to private training companies. These companies include Tulsa Welding and School of Technology Center, Industrial Welding Academy, and Elite Pipe Welding Academy.

One may want to know where a welder works; it could be anywhere. For the oil business, two prominent places are the fabrication shops that build pressure vessels, like Paragon Fabricators. Otherwise, one could get employment directly at the oil processing facility, like Exxon-Mobil, and work as part of the plant’s maintenance staff. When the entire plant is being constructed, that is another time they will need the skills of a welders.

Richard Carranza is a reporter from the Houston, Texas area and published his first work in 1990. His education includes a bachelor of arts in chemistry from Cornell College, master of science in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University, and a masters of business administration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. In addition to writing, Richard is involved in the design of petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, oil/gas facilities and ethanol plants. He also carries out writing assignments for publications like Chemical Processing Magazine, Maritime Executive Magazine and Chemical Online.