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 ensure a strong bond.
Some of the most common welding types 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 and are pivotal to every 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, many 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, coming upwards of $40,000, but those specialized professionals tend to earn higher wages in their future careers.
- 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 additional costs of books, equipment, and living 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 Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Pell Grant, are federal monies available to help pay for school. Grants come at no cost and offer partially paid or full free-ride training. No money owed means no interest fees or headache of paying anything back.
- Private 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 costs of schooling overall, but they provide immediate financial help that is not coming out of your pocket. The U.S. Department of Education offers the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program along with the Sallie Mae Career Training Smart Option Loan.
- Merit scholarships: These scholarships are awarded based on certain criteria set by the school and apply to all 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. Your school’s financial aid officer should be able to explain your possibilities. There are a lot of financial aid options to help with school tuition; all it takes is a little bit of research!
6. What do courses look like in a welding program?
During training, you will learn the major welding processes, inspections, and quality control. 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 your craft.
7. What are the requirements for welding school?
In order to start your welding training you will be expected to meet a few 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 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 find out your state regulations is to speak to your trade school admissions adviser.
- You will be expected to have a solid 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 that cost into the total cost for your program. At the end of the day, the financial value is very similar.
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 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 some 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 two years.
9. How much do welders earn?
The average annual income for welders was $60,370 in 2019 with the top 10% earning $96,580 or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov).
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 know all there is to know about all welding processes and an ability to recognize a quality weld from a weak weld.
- 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. Do schools have accreditation?
All of our partner schools are accredited and have solid programs to set you up for long-term success.