Take the First Step Toward Your Welding Career Now!
You want to give yourself a competitive edge in the welding profession? Then, you need to specialize.
One great specialization is pipe welding. It opens up more doors, with larger paychecks. Since it’s considered one of the more difficult welding examinations to pass, having this certification will make you an extremely valuable employee.
Why is pipe welding so hard, you ask? Well, it’s because you have to weld the pipe at a 45 degree angle and move your body in all sorts of positions. It’s not easy, but it’s well worth adding it to your skillset in exchange for job security.
First you’ll need to become a welder. You’ll go through a trade school, community college, or apprenticeship where you’ll learn all about the trade both from a classroom and hands-on standpoint. Expect your training to take a couple of years.
Apprenticeships have a different set of requirements. These will last 3-4 years, with 2,000 hours per year learning the trade. You’ll get paid, like most other apprenticeships, with your hourly rate going up in line with your experience.
After you complete whichever training path you decide is for you, and you’ve become a certified welder, you can now look into a pipe welding certification.
To become a pipe welder, you can find a pipe welder who is willing to train you. Or, you can go back to school to learn this specialty.
On top of being able to weld, you’ll need to know how to weld pipes and plates including (but not limited to) the five pipe welding positions, along with the two different joint types. To pass the 6G pipe welding exam, you’re going to have to know how complete welds in the horizontal, vertical, and overhead positions.
Here’s the caveat. Many employers won’t hire a pipe welder that doesn’t have any pipe welding experience aside from their schooling. So, you may need to find a job as an assistant to a pipe welder and work your way up. This is a high-pressure, physical job, one where you won’t know if you’re truly cut out for until you’re working on those pipes in a variety of conditions.
You will need two years of pipe welding experience, along with your 3G welding certification before you are even eligible to take the 6G welding certification.
It ain’t easy. But, you probably gathered that already. You could be working in the deep in the bowels of a city, or shivering in an Alaskan tundra. It depends on the day, or who your employer is.
This job requires a lot of physical exertion, so you must be sure you’re up to the task. It’s a lot harder than a Zumba class or going to the gym and grunting in front of a mirror. The positions you’re going to have to maneuver your body into, along with the strength and dexterity you’ll need to stay in one position for extended periods of time, may be beyond comprehension to many. Not to you, though—you have what it takes.
OK, so you’re in? You’re committed? You’ll want to know about the actual certification now. Well, the American Welding Society is a great place to get your 6G certification. AWS works with other organizations available for you when the time comes to take the exam.
The most common way to prep for this is exam is through a course that will include 120 hours of hands-on instruction. There are many different prep courses and programs out there, so find one that works best for your situation.
When you’re ready to actually take the exam, you’ll need to provide the required information, which varies with each testing facility. Most likely, you will need your identification, proof of two years of experience, proof of your 3G welding certification, and the money to cover the application and testing costs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the average salary of a pipe welder in 2022 was $65,190, with the top 10 percent earning closer to $101,190.
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