Because soldering is a versatile skill to have, several opportunities — both professional and amateur — exist for a solderer. A solderer is someone who uses a soldering gun or iron to connect metal parts together, such as in electronic components and plumbing applications. Soldering is generally done on smaller parts, such as wires or small capacitors, and on small-sized pipes. The same type of activity done on larger pipes and components is called brazing, but a solderer generally deals with small projects that require a steady hand.
Soldering is done by using a hot soldering iron or gun to apply a metallic material called solder to parts that need to be connected. The solder material is usually made up of 60% lead and 40% tin, which means it has a relatively low melting point. When a solderer connects two metal components using solder, electric currents are allowed to run through the components and the solder.
Because soldering is useful for connecting electrical components, a solderer can find work wherever electrical applications are needed. Computers use several electrical components that necessitate soldering work, so solderers are commonly employed by computer manufacturers. Other electrical component manufacturers, such as television and stereo companies, or personal electronic devices, may require the assistance of a solderer.
Solderers may also find work in the manufacturing and industry trades in other capacities. For example, because many manufacturing plants — such as automobile plants — are partially or fully automated, machines that run on electronics frequently break down and need repair. A solderer may be hired to come in on a sub-contractor basis to repair the electronic connections within a machine.
Computer and electronic repair shops frequently hire people who are proficient in soldering. Due to the frequency with which electronics and computers break down, soldering may be necessary for repairs; however, it is more common to replace components than it is to repair them.
When other materials with higher melting points are used to solder, the process is instead called brazing. Brazing is very useful in plumbing applications, particularly fusing two pipes together using a melted filler material. Brazing cannot be done with a soldering iron or gun. Instead, brazing is done using a torch or welder of some sort, since a soldering iron cannot get hot enough to melt the filler material. Brazing is a bit more complicated process than soldering and generally requires more safety equipment, such as goggles and heat resistant gloves.