Take the First Step Toward Your Welding Career Now!

Becoming A Welder


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Welders join metals with metal through a bunch of different processes, and they are needed in pretty much every industry. The career options that welders can have touch land, sea, sky, and everything in between.

Qualified welders can go from one field of work to another. If welding is a career option you’re considering, then read on to find out why it could be right for you.

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Traits Of A Welder

The industry you’ll work in will determine exactly what you do. However, one thing welding has in common across all the industries is the basic process: Heat is used to fuse metal together. Tools, techniques, and types of metals will vary, as there are more than 100 actual processes welders use. The most common type to learn is arc welding.

As a welder, you'll need to have an in-depth understanding of blueprint readings and specifications so that you can accurately determine what is involved in the project.

Focus and determination are key elements necessary to being a successful welder. You need to be extremely detail-oriented to assess the necessary repairs accurately and catch the change in the flow of the liquid metal being used to join parts.

You should have some manual dexterity, stamina, and physical strength. Think about it, as a welder you are sometimes stuck in one position, holding heavy equipment, for extended periods of time. You need to be able to sustain that without fail, or the project may flop.

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An Extreme Shortage Of Certified Welders

In the welding industry, there is a massive shortage of qualified welders. Since 1988, the number of working welders has decreased by half, and that number is shrinking rapidly. The main reason for this shortage of welders is that the sum of those retiring is not equal to those entering the workforce—many people aren't aware what a great career it can be!

Based on the supply and demand, welder pay may continue to increase. The number of open positions on the market in comparison to the number of qualified welders sometimes has employers increasing wages just to bring a skilled welder on board.

Read about: highest paying trade school careers

Facts About Welding School

To become a professional welder, you must first either graduate high school or obtain your GED. After that, the requirements may vary by employer. Some will offer apprenticeships and training programs. However, most employers suggest, at minimum, getting a trade school diploma in welding. If you’re still in high school and considering going into the trade of welding, then it is strongly suggested that you take all the shop classes your high school offers, along with loading up in math and science classes. And consider finding a job opportunity at an auto body shop or anywhere you can learn about welding through a professional.

Trade or vocational schools offer diplomas in welding, and community colleges offer associate degrees in welding technology. Through both types of courses, you will take physics, chemistry, blueprint reading, metallurgy, mechanical drawing, and shop math. You’ll also learn the essential art of heating and shape various metals, which welding is based upon. There will also be plenty of hands-on opportunities, which will not only teach but also give you the necessary exposure to experience.

Connect with a local welding trade school.

Finding The Right Welding School

“Folks can make a lot more by learning a trade than they might with with an art history degree.”
President Barack Obama

Choosing a welding school doesn’t have to be difficult at all. Visit the American Welding Society’s website to see what schools it recommends in your area. Or, it can be as easy as filling out our form to be contacted by one of our accredited partner schools in your area. 

Besides accreditation, other things to check out when school searching is the graduation rate and what its job placement program is like, if it has one.

Three of the largest welding schools are Tulsa Welding School, Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, and Lincoln Welding Training.

How Much Does Welding School Cost?

There are a couple of different ways to obtain your welding education.

Apprenticeships can be free or have a nominal cost, roughly $1,300. They will last 3-5 years before you’re ready to go on your own. A four-year bachelor’s degree in welding technology will cost between $40,000-$100,000.

The two more traditional ways to become a welder are through either a diploma or associate degree program. One of the main differences between the two programs is that an associate degree will include general education courses. And, with an associate degree, you have the option of continuing on to receive a bachelor’s degree in welding technology.

Diploma or certificate programs focus on welding, period. These are the most popular courses, and you can be career-ready for an entry level job in as few as 10 months.

 

Diploma/Certificate

Associate Degree

Cost

$3,500-$20,000

$6,000-$55,000

Additional Costs

School supplies, housing (if needed): up to $10,000

School supplies, housing (if needed): up to $10,000

Length of Ed.

3 months - 2 years depending on program

2 years going full time

Credit Hours

18-40 credit hours

60-80 credit hours

Of course, educational costs and their supplemental costs depend on the school and where its located. It is possible to receive scholarships and financial aid to offset the cost of the welding education. Find out more about financial aid. The American Welding Society offers quite a few scholarship opportunities, as well.

Employment Outlook And Salary

Welding is projected to experience an employment growth of 3 percent through 2028, states Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There is a high need for welders as our nation’s infrastructure ages. Most welding jobs are found in the manufacturing sector with a concentration in transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, agricultural, mining, and farming machinery, and architectural and structural metals manufacturing. 

In 2019, welders made an average annual pay of $45,190, according to BLS. The lowest 10 percent made $29,470, while the top 10 percent brought in more than $64,240. Pay is determined by various measures such as your skill level, which industry you are in, and the size of the company you work for.

Top paying states for welders

STATE

SALARY

Alaska

$66,740

District of Columbia

$63,890

Hawaii

$61,830

Wyoming

$61,650

New Mexico

$56,740

Top paying industries for welders

INDUSTRY

SALARY

Scheduled Air Transportation

$89,110

Natural Gas Distribution

$80,620

Electric Power Generation and Distribution

$78,260

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing 

$65,900

Other Pipeline Transportation

$64,780

 

Top 5 high-paying career options for welders

Job Title

Salary

Military Support Welder

$160K minimum

Industrial Pipe Welder

$50K-$100K depending on location/company

Underwater Welder

$55K-$200K depending on location/company

HiTech Welder

$47,000 depending on location/company

Sheet Metal Welder

$45,070 depending on location/company

Steel and Iron Worker

$37,420 depending on location/company

Becoming Certified As A Welder

Not all states require welders to be certified. However, to be more employable, certification is highly recommended. Certification shows potential employers and customers that you have the skills to complete the necessary tasks. It provides a level of reassurance to employers that their work reputation isn’t at stake. Certification also means a larger paycheck and better job advancements for you, the certified welder.

There are quite a few different certifications available to welders and, depending on what kind of welding work you are looking to do will determine which certification is needed. They cost between $275-$1,100, depending on which certification is being pursued.  

When you're ready to begin earning your certifications, start with the American Welding Society. The AWS offers many different areas of professional certifications and endorsements. You can get certified as a welder, a welding instructor, or in certified robotic arc welding. Becoming a member of the AWS will lower the prices of the certification exams.


Read more:  Golden From The Shoulder To The Holder: Become A Welder

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