Math for Welders: Need It, Want it, Get it…

Written by: Carlos Plaza
Written by: Carlos Plaza

You may be one of those people like me who sat all glassy-eyed and bored staring at the mad scribblings of a high school math teacher and wondering when—aside from next Friday’s test—will anybody really need to know that. To my surprise, I quickly learned that Mr. Irwin’s ramblings were not just another futile exercise designed to entertain adolescent children just long enough for their parents to go out and make a living without having to worry about them burning the house down. In fact, math is really quite important in many skilled trades, particularly welding.

You won’t get very far without a basic understanding of measurements to accurately size, cut, and fit metal and other materials.  And measurements are all based on computational fractions, which may also need to be converted to decimals. Heck, just figuring out how much plate you can get on a rig requires a little math. What would a safe load be if you are going to load a 1 ton truck with ¼ inch steel plates that weigh 10.2 pounds per square foot? I know what you’re thinking. No worries, Mr. Irwin probably has a webpage.

Fillet Weld 1 for Math BlogAll joking aside, the fact is that a good welder needs to have a general knowledge of fractions and decimals just to read and understand blueprints. Several basic principles of geometry, like the measurement and calculation angles, area, and volume are also indispensable in a field chock-full of triangles and spaces that need to be filled with just the right amount of material if you plan on staying in business or keeping your job. What’s that you say? I’m not getting paid to do math, I’m getting paid to burn rod. Then, you are probably not earning as much as you could if you had added a few math skills to your mental tool box. In fact, that may be all that is keeping you from becoming a Certified Welding Inspector or a Certified Welding Supervisor. It’s really not that hard. Go to right now and flip through a few pages of Practical Problems in Mathematics for Welders, and you’ll see what I mean. By the way, this is not the only book that covers math for welders, it just happens to be the one with the “look Inside” feature.

If you suffer from math phobia (it’s really a thing), then you can access Fabrication Math I or Fabrication Math II on American Welding Online. It’s like having a teacher in your home walking you through every kind of math problem, only no one is actually looking at you, or perhaps more importantly, judging you. The online course also allows you to start at whatever level you choose. For example, you may want to skip straight to conversions or you may want to review some addition and subtraction before moving on. It’s cool, no one is watching. So, take it from the glassy-eyed, space cadet at the back of math class, you can do this!

AWS Learning offers a series of affordable online courses designed to meet your educational goals. Fabrication Math I and Fabrication Math II are now available as part of the CWI Pre-Seminar and the AWS Online Educational Library.