Soldering jobs generally involve little or no education, but instead rely on on-the-job training. Various manufacturers, stained glass producers, jewelry makers, and electronics makers employ dedicated solderers who work an average of 40 hours per week, but overtime is common; according to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, about 20% of solderers in the US work 50 hours per week. Job prospects are expected to experience little change until 2018, but employers are currently reporting difficulty finding skilled workers, and workers willing to relocate will have more employment possibilities.
In manufacturing industries, solderers are employed as general assemblers whose duties entail the construction of various products according to blueprints and outlines. Soldering is just one required skill, as assemblers are often required to use hand tools to complete each product from start to finish. For some larger or more complicated projects, solderers are part of an assembly line of specialized workers, and are responsible only for the soldering required on each piece. Additional training in welding and brazing greatly increase employment opportunities in this field.
Soldering jobs in stained glass production are uncommon except in large scale production facilities. Additional glazing skills are generally necessary to work in smaller studios, where the solderer might also be responsible for cutting and fitting glass pieces. Stained glass solder contains lead, so workers should be familiar with basic safety procedures and equipment, and should be monitored routinely for lead toxicity.
Jewelry makers generally employ solderers in an assembly line facility in large-scale production, where other workers are responsible for the casting, tooling, and shaping of the piece, and the solderer would be responsible for the joining. Additional skills in stone cutting and setting would increase employment prospects and open up avenues such as jewelry repair. Jewelry solderers must also be familiar with fine metals and the precise detail work that such tiny pieces require.
By far, the biggest source of soldering jobs is the electronics industry. Virtually any product that gets plugged in or runs on batteries contains a circuit board, and most are made individually by hand. The manufacturing of circuit boards requires a multitude of different solders, and the work must be precise. Electronic soldering jobs are similar to assembly jobs, and workers are responsible for completing connections and selecting components in addition to the actual solder application. Workers must know how to read technical drawings, and should have a familiarity with the workings of electronics.