1. What is welding?
Welding is a fabrication process that involves heat and/or pressure to fuse parts together. A melted filler material is often used in the process to create these strong bonds.
Some of the most common welding processes are:
- MIG Welding (Gas Metal Arc Welding)
- TIG Welding (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding)
- Stick Welding (Shielded Metal Arc Welding)
- Flux Welding (Corded Arc Welding)
- Energy Beam Welding
- Atomic Hydrogen Welding
- Plasma Arc Welding
Welders are essential workers in many industries. They are pivotal to infrastructure on land, underwater, and even in space.
2. Why should I go to welding school?
Cities and states have different requirements for welders. Some will allow you to train on the job, but others require licensing. Even in the areas that allow on-the-job training, most employers expect applicants to be technically trained, and may even ask for certification.
If your goal is to become a professional welder with strong hiring potential, it’s recommended you learn the trade through a formal training program.
3. What if I’m still in high school?
Some high schools offer shop classes, and if you're aspiring to become a welder, you should definitely take advantage of that opportunity. Math and science classes will also give you a head start for the future. Additionally, you could explore a part-time job as a helper at a local body shop or any other place that could offer you hands-on experience and tips from seasoned professionals.
4. How much will welding school cost?
The cost of a welding program depends on the route you decide to take.
- Trade school: The cost can fluctuate, but typically, tuition is in the $20,000 - $24,000 range. Specialized programs, such as underwater welding can be more costly, reaching upwards of $40,000. These specializations, however, tend to offer higher earning potential in the long run.
- Community college: The cost ranges between $5,000-$15,000 for a welding program.
The above cost estimates are listed before any applicable financial aid. They may not include the additional cost of books, equipment, and housing expenses.
5. Do welding schools offer financial aid?
Many schools offer and accept forms of financial aid. Here are a few common options for eligible students.
- Grants: Government-funded grants, such as the Pell Grant, are federal aid available to help pay for school. Grants come at no cost and offer partially paid or fully paid-for training. No money owed means no interest fees, eliminating the headache of needing to worry about repayment.
- Loans: It’s no secret that student loans help to cover the costs of training; however, they must be repaid over a period of time, often with interest. The loans do not reduce the cost of schooling overall, but they provide immediate financial aid, so you don't need to pay out of pocket all at once.
- Merit scholarships: These scholarships are awarded based on certain criteria set by the institution granting the scholarship and apply to many welding schools in the U.S.
- Welding-specific/Seasonal: John Deere and organizations like the American Welding Society (AWS) often offer scholarships and grants for aspiring welders. They are usually seasonal and fill up relatively fast.
Not all trade schools qualify for government financial aid, so it’s always a good idea to discuss viable options with the financial aid officer at your school of choice. While your school's financial aid officer should be able to explain different options to you, it may be beneficial for you to do your own research as well.
6. What do courses look like in a welding program?
During training, you will learn about the major welding processes, inspections, and quality control procedures. Because welding is a hands-on skill, you will spend a lot of time at the shop, learning welding techniques, safety codes, blueprint reading, and other skills that will help you excel in the craft.
7. What are the requirements for welding school?
In order to start your welding training you will be expected to meet the following criteria:
- You must obtain a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
- Usually, you must be at least 16 years of age to apply to a trade school with parental consent, but some programs may require you to be 18 years old. Different states have their own laws, and with that, schools have different admissions processes. The quickest way to learn your state regulations is to speak to your trade school admissions adviser.
- You will be expected to have a strong knowledge of basic math when you start your program.
- Welding can be physically demanding. A list of physical requirements is often included in the submission form.
- In some cases, schools ask students to supply their own equipment. That may include safety gear, protective clothing, and tools. Other schools will offer all materials, tools, equipment, and clothing by including their cost in the total amount of your program's tuition.
8. How long will welding training take?
As a general time frame, welder training can be completed in approximately 10 months to 4 years. Part-time and accelerated courses are often available, giving you a chance to spread your training out as needed or graduate even faster.
- Most trade school welding programs can be completed in as few as 10 months. Some schools have programs that take as few as 7 months for full-time students, while others can be longer than a year.
- Community college associate degrees in welding generally take 2 years to complete.
- Apprenticeships last approximately 8,000 hours (4 years). Some training programs offer credits toward your apprenticeship, up to 2 years.
9. How much do welders earn?
10. What kind of jobs are available within welding?
- Pipe welder: As a pipeline welder, you will work with a variety of pipelines like gas, chemical, water, and power generators. These pipes need constant maintenance to work properly and supply various industries.
- Underwater welding: Underwater welders take care of the pipes in oil drilling stations, repair ships, and underwater structures. Due to the conditions underwater welders face, you must be in top physical shape as well as having extensive training and specialized certification.
- Sheet metal worker: In this line of work you will be applying your skills at construction sites, manufacturing plants, and metal shops.
- Welding inspector/instructor: As an inspector or an instructor, your job is to be adept in all welding processes and to be able to distinguish quality welds from weak ones.
- Military support welder: Your job as a military support welder is to repair and maintain military ships, buildings, or equipment by working with a variety of metals. You may also acquire additional training and work on repairing space stations and broken satellites.
11. How Do I Get Started?
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