How to Become a Welder in 3 Simple Steps

3

Degree Level

​Certific​ate

Salary

$39,​390

​Certification

​Yes

What is a Welder?

Before we start explaining how to become a welder let’s first talk about this profession and answer the question what a welder is.

Welders are trained tradesmen with the specialization of joining metals together like aluminum, brass, steel and stainless steel.

There are several industries where welders can work: automotive industry, machinery manufacturing, building construction, ship building, general purpose manufacturing, creative arts and infrastructure projects.

The daily duties of a welder are:​

  • ​Positioning metal parts with clamps other restraints
  • ​Securing these parts
  • ​Igniting torches
  • ​Applying the torch to the welding area
  • ​Monitoring the welding process to prevent problems like overheating
  • ​Examining the welds for flaws
  • plus-circle
    ​Cleaning and maintain their welding equipment

Because the work of a welder is relatively dangerous, welders wear protective equipment like: helmets, gloves, safety glasses and jackets.

Their work space can vary, from platforms, underwater, factories and auto repairs.

They mostly work 40 hours but due to the high demand for their services, it is estimated that 20% of them work 50 hours or more.

They sometimes work at shifts as some companies want to have 24 hours, 7 days a week production.


Welder Specialties

Below we have listed four of the most promising welding specialties for welders in the US:

High-Tech Welding

​They mostly work at the aerospace industry, medical industry and automotive industry where they manufacture missiles, air-crafts and satellites. They use equipment of the latest technology like robots and lasers. In order to become a high tech welder you will need formal post secondary training and continuous education in order to stay updated on the new technologies.


Sheet Metal Welders

This is the most common specialty for welders. Their work is to join sheet metals.


Underwater Welding

At this specialization welders are wearing scuba diving equipment in order to repair structures under the surface of the water. They mostly work for oil drilling companies fixing and joining pipes. In order to become an underwater welder you will need a commercial diving and a welding certification.


Structural Steel and Iron Workers

They work mostly at construction sites participating at commercial and residential buildings construction. A lot of the Iron welders work also under state and federal agencies participating in the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructures like highways, bridges and old buildings.

If you want to learn more about welders specialization read our in depth article: Four Career Paths for Welders

What is a Welder

Becoming a Welder

Step 1 High School Preparation

High School Courses for Welders

Before we talk about what courses you will need to take, firstly let’s make it clear you have to finish high school.

It is a common misconception that tradesmen do not have to be well educated but that was the case in the 70’s. With technology advancement and the rising competition it is vital to have at least a high school diploma.

Take every shop course available at metal fabrication and welding

As an aspiring welder it is a no-brainer to take every welding and metal fabrication course available not only to learn the basics of welding and get some hands on experience but also to understand if you really want to become a welder. Taking this class will also give you the opportunity to talk with your teacher and ask him everything you want to know about welding.

Math

Take algebra and geometry classes. As a welder you will be measuring metal parts and making calculations all day long so it is a good idea to start preparing from high school for this.

Science

Take science classes. If you think a bit more about it welding is science so it is vital to have a basic knowledge of why and how welding works. Having a deeper understanding of science will give you a deeper understanding of welding as well. You will understand why you have to do certain stuff and you will not just do it because you were taught so.

Step 2​ Get a Welding Certificate or Degree 

Welding Certificate Program 6 months to 18 months

Welding certificate programs are 18 to 40 semester credit hours’ programs and can be completed mostly on campus as there are a lot of practical classes you will need to attend.

It is fairly easy to get accepted to a certificate program as most schools will only ask for a high school diploma or a GED.

Curriculum

The cost of a welding certificate program ranges from $3,500 to $20,000.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited welding certificate programs near you.

Welding Technology Associate’s Degree Program 2 years

These are 60-80 semester credit hours’ programs that can be completed on campus.

In order to get accepted in a program like that you need a high school diploma or GED and in some cases you might need to take an in house exam at the technical school or state college offering this program.

Curriculum

The cost of a Welding Technology Associate’s Degree ranges from $6,000 to $55,000.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited welding associate’s degree programs near you.

Welding Engineering Bachelor’s Degree program 4 years

Welding engineering bachelor degree programs are 120-130 semester credit hours’ programs.

It is easy to get accepted as you will only need a high school diploma. You can complete some classes online but you will need to attend on campus courses too as there are a lot practical courses.

Curriculum

The cost of a Welding Engineering Bachelor’s Degree ranges from $25,000 to $85,000.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited Welding Engineering Bachelor’s Degree programs near you.

how long does it take to become a welder

Step 3 ​Do an Apprenticeship

There are some benefits to working an apprenticeship in any career path, and it’s particularly useful if you’re training to become a welder.

Taking a welding apprenticeship is a great way to get hands-on experience and knowledge about the industry, best working practices, and all the other aspects of working for a company while finding out if this really is the right career path for you.

For a start, you’ll most likely find it easier to find an apprenticeship than a full-time position. Also, you can start earning some money and enjoying some of the benefits of being employed. So it helps people get their foot in the door if they’ve not worked in the industry before.

With welding requiring practical skills and being a craft that can be improved over time, the more experience you get early on in your career the better, which is what apprenticeships are perfect for.

Once you’ve finished your apprenticeship you’ll have a lot more options open to you. It’s common to be offered a full-time position at the company you completed your apprenticeship with if it went well.

Otherwise you have a newly developed skills and a bundle more experience to take with you to new employment.

If you’ve ever faced that circle of not being able to get the job you want because you don’t have the experience, but not being able to get the experience because it seems like all employers want experienced workers - an apprenticeship breaks that cycle.

Step ​4 Get Certified

certification

​This is a crucial step when becoming a welder.

A welding certification is a way to demonstrate your skills to a possible employer.

There are couple organizations issuing welding certifications but the most recognized is (AWS) American Welding Society that has several different certifications to choose from.


Certified Welder (CW)

Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)

Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI)

Certified Welding Educator (CWE)

Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR)

Overview of ​Welder Degrees


​Certificate Program

Welder certificate programs typically cover all the basics you’ll need to know to start working as a welder. Not only this, but completing certificates help ingrain that continual improvement and self-development that’s important to a long career.

You will learn how to use all your equipment safely, how to read blueprints, work orders, how to work as part of a team, what’s expected from you when working as a welder, and you’ll develop your welding skills.

Certificates are an important step in getting ahead in your field. The skills and knowledge you gain will make you more employable, and it shows how serious you are about furthering your education and career.

Associate’s Degree Program

Associate’s degrees are 2-year programs that are designed to round off a students knowledge and skill set and prepare them to enter full-time work and hit the ground running.

In the welding industry this means you’ll be ready to work in a company of any size and understand what’s expected of you as a team player, as well as a competent welder.

You will also be very skilled at welding by the time you complete your associate degree. You’ll have more employment opportunities, earn more than candidates without this degree, and benefit from your studies in both your professional and personal life.

​Bachelor’s Degree Program

A bachelor's degree is designed to test and tutor a student at the highest level and equip them with the skills to perform their role at the highest professional level.

They typically take 4 years to complete and some programs will overlap with the associate’s degree for the first 2 years.

People with bachelor's degrees earn more on average than those with associate’s degrees, and you’ll have all the tools and knowledge to excel in your career as a welder.

Which Type of Degree Is Best for You?

Knowing you want to pursue welding as a career choice is the first step. Deciding on the best study route is the next step, and one we can help you with.

With all the different schooling and career options available it can be confusing which path to take - but it doesn’t need to be.

When it comes to pursuing a career in welding we recommend taking a certificate program before anything else.

You can get started with a certificate program without any prior qualifications and they are very affordable, so there are few barriers to entry stopping you.

A certificate program is excellent for covering all the basics and giving you solid foundations to build on as your career in welding progresses.

As well as giving you the knowledge and skills to continue your studies afterwards and continually improve.

The bottom line is that a certificate program will help you develop your skills, which leads on to finding employment, it demonstrates your willingness to improve, and gives you a platform to further your education.

Finding the right school and certificate program is also important. Within this article you’ll find all the information you need to help you find that school.

Welder Job Growth, Salary and Outlook


​39,​390

​​6%

The growth, salary, outlook, and all around job prospects for welders has been near to par with the average for some time now and looks like it’s going to continue.

In 2016 the median pay for welders was $39,390. This is close to the average median pay for workers across all sectors in the US which was $37,040 in 2016.

The outlook therefore is similar as you would expect. There is a projected increase of 6% between 2016-26, which is close to the national average across all occupations of 7%.

There were around 400k welding jobs in the same period, and an expected increase of 22,500 over the next 10 years. So a lot of opportunities for newly qualified welders in this period.

It’s important to remember that welding is a skilled profession and the combination of aging infrastructure and need for new infrastructure isn't going to slow down the demand for welders in the foreseeable future.

So, although all the projections point towards a plateau around the average baseline, there is no risk of the profession slowing down.

This also translates into strong job security. Although it may be necessary to change employment or relocate to position yourself where the work is as it’s often location-based work.

How Long Does it take to Become a Welder and How Much  does it Cost?

Option 1 Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 6 months to 18 months3,500 - $20,000
Certification 1 month$35 - $1065
Total 6 months to 18 months$3,535 - $21,065

Option 2 Associate's Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$6,000 - $55,000
Certification 1 month$35 - $1065
Total 2 years & 1 month $6,035 - $56,065

Option ​3 ​Bachelor's Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$25,000 - $85,000.
Certification 1 month $35 - $1065
Total 4 years & 1 month$25,035 - $86,035

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