Buying Your First Welder: An Informative Guide

There are many variables to consider before you purchase your first welder. Welding machines come in many varieties and are designed to perform specific welding techniques. You should think through the type of welding jobs that you will be working on and research the types of welders that are commonly used before deciding. Welders can get expensive fast, but the market supports a wide price range. Obviously, you should buy a machine that fits your budget while remaining confident it can get your welding jobs done to your complete satisfaction. Remember, a weak weld suggests a weak welder. Get the welder that fits the job because few (if any) welding machines fit them all. All welding techniques over the range of welding careers will require to such determinations.

Before steeling on a welding machine, you should consider four initial variables:


  • Budget
  • Type of metal being fabricated
  • Power requirements for materials and fabrication process
  • Transportation and portability



Let’s face it, anything of good quality doesn’t come cheap. The same holds true for welders. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. With welding, you always want to create a weld that penetrates without gaps, cracks, or pores. Sometimes a smooth finish is also important, and excessive grinding is costly and can degrade the weld’s quality. It is important at this formative stage of your career that you make the right choice.


Type of metal being fabricated

Be sure that you have the right tool for the right material. Will your fabrication require MIG, Flux Cord, Dc Stick, or DC TIG? Depending on the type and thickness of metal you’ll be working with, your machine will need to supply different power capabilities. Most beginners start with MIG welding, but the welding industry often requires that the machine do many types of job. Many machines will be versatile enough to switch between a few settings.


Power requirements for materials and fabrication process

What are the power requirements for the type of weld you need? Determine the primary, minimum and required circuit size. Are the breakers enough for the job and can your machine handle the energy needs? For instance, will you need direct current reverse polarity (DCPR) for MIG. Will you be using gas tungsten arc welding, and what inert shielding gas will you require?


Transportation and portability

Many jobs allow for the welder to be in one place all day. But, if this is your personal welder, and you’re in the same shop every day portability is not much of a concern. Will you need a unit that features semi-automation, so that you can easily transport it to jobs in the field? Will you need the machine for pipe welding?


ETI School of Skilled Trades’ Welding Program

Above are a few of the most common determinations you must make before buying a welder that fits your needs. In most cases you will be able to find a variety of prices and guns to meet your needs. There are many resources online to help. The American Welding Society offers much useful information in this regard.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you know people in the industry then pick their brains, they can be an invaluable resource. Welding programs such as the one offered by ETI School of Trades can prepare you to make these informed decisions. If you’re interested in getting started in a welding career, contact ETI today at (888) 572-9937 or fill out this form.