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As a welder, you’ll find a job working in one of the many different industries welders are needed—from manufacturing to construction to aerospace and beyond.
Before you can become an inspector or instructor, you’ll start out as a welder, where you’ll gain an extremely deep understanding of what welds are, how they are created, and why they are needed. You’ll be so proficient at welding that not only will you be able to make sturdy welds but also easily recognize a good weld from one that won’t hold up!
You will go through the process of becoming an expert welder, whether it’s through a postsecondary training program or an apprenticeship. It will take you 1-2 years to complete a certification program through a career school, or you can go to a community college and graduate with an associate degree in two years, if you attend full time.
Here’s a little side note: Not all employers will require you to have any type of degree in welding. If you have even the most basic knowledge of the type of welding the hiring company is looking for, then you may have a shot at an entry-level position, where you’ll be trained on the job. This is probably the best learning scenario, because there is no out-of-pocket expense—so, no crushing student debt.
Welding inspectors perform a crucially important function. Welds needs to be checked to ensure they are safe. It’s up to the welding inspector to make certain of this objective. Once you are confident the welds are safe, you sign off on them. It’s your name and reputation plus the safety of others at stake—which is why you need proper training.
You’ll also have to clean and degrease parts, check the grooves, angles, and dimensions for accuracy, and inspect the welding equipment. Knowing how to mix and apply protective coatings over the welds is also a requirement for the job of welding inspector.
Your work will be a combination of in the field and behind a desk. There is a lot of paperwork to fill out pre- and post-inspection. Excelling in written and oral communication is a must, as is being fit to perform the work in the field. You’ll have to know how to read all those blueprints that will be piled up on your desk, in your car, and anywhere else you work. Plus, basic computer skills are needed to get the job done.
Once you complete your degree or certificate program, plus have at least three years of welding experience, you’ll be eligible to take the required welding inspector certification exams through the American Welding Society.
Three areas will be covered: welding fundamentals, practical applications, and welding code application. Once you pass the exam, you’re good to go for three years before they’ll need to be renewed. However, you can take continuing education courses for credits that will prolong the expiration periods of your certifications.
Each state has different requirements for welding instructors, so you will need to check with yours to find out what you should do.
According to Payscale.com, the national average for a certified welding instructors salary is $26.55/hour, or just over $50K per year. However, there is a huge range on either side—welders can earn between $41K and $101K.
Your salary is dependent on where you live, where you work, and the amount of experience you have. Plus, the more welding skills you have on your resume, the higher your salary will be. Pipe welding is a very desirable talent, so that’s definitely something to consider when you are training to be a welder.
Moving from welder to welding inspector is a great way to shimmy up that career ladder. You’ll still have the satisfaction of making that great weld, while making sure other welders are holding up their end of the profession, too.
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