Reasons to Become a Welder
If you’re interested in metalwork, soldering and welding, a career as a welding technician might suit you well. These professionals serve as the link between the welding shop and the engineering department. In many cases, welding technicians will also have an opportunity to practice and improve their skills.
Welding technicians use specialized equipment to bond metals into specific parts. In this job, you will join different pieces of metal, cut them down to size and finish the part. If you are interested in working in the following industries, this might be a good career decision for you:
Steps to Becoming a Welder
Learn about the qualifications needed to become a welding technician, as well as personality traits and skills possessed by today’s top welders. You don’t need welding experience to get a job as a welder. However, you’ll need to find the right program to hone your skills.
Find out how to get your welding technician credentials in just four easy steps.
Step 1: Complete High School or Pass the GED Exam
Are you wondering what you have to do to start welding training? In most states, you’ll need to complete your high school diploma or pass the GED exam. This will allow you to pursue a reputable welding technician program and take courses that will prepare you for a career as a welder.
Desired by Employers
If you haven’t passed the GED, you’ll need to do so prior to attending classes at local community colleges or universities. Some jobs offer on-the-job training to help you achieve this skill. However, increasing numbers of employers expect applicants to have their high school diploma as a minimum requirement.
Taking Related Classes
Additionally, many high schools now offer vocational programs to help students fast-track their careers. Completing a welding program or taking welding courses in high school can greatly improve your chances of acceptance in a welding training course.
Step 2: Apply to College or Training Programs
As discussed, you’ll most likely need your GED or high school diploma in order to pursue welding training programs. These programs include both classroom learning and hands-on training opportunities. Here are some of the ways to complete training for welding technicians:
- High school technical education
- Trade school
- On-the-job training
- Community college
- Training through the military
Choosing a program with a diverse curriculum can expand your career options following the completion of your program. Useful courses include:
- Blueprint reading
- Shop mathematics
- Mechanical drawing
Also, consider the type of degree offered by community colleges or trade schools with welding programs. For example, you can earn an associate’s degree or welding certificate. Different employers will expect different credentials.
Keep in mind that schools will also have admissions fees and forms to fill out prior to getting accepted into the program.
Step 3: Complete the Program
Getting a formal diploma in welding technology can give you an edge over other candidates in a competitive job market. If you don’t want to invest two years in a degree, there are welding programs you can complete in under a year.
What Will You Learn?
On-campus coursework will typically include gas welding, stick welding, and flux-core welding concepts. You will learn best practices and safety techniques that help you excel in your career. Additionally, many programs offer professional development and math for the trades to deepen your knowledge and help you plan your career.
Types of Welding
Gas welding (GMAW) uses wire and gas to form an electric arc for heating and melting metal. Alternatively, in stick welding (SMAW), you hold a stick with an electric current to make welds. Another type of welding, flux-cored arc welding (FCAW), uses flux to generate heat.
The best training programs will include all these methods. Students also learn when and where to apply each fabrication method.
In all coursework, safety holds a primary focus. Welding technicians work with metals heated to very high temperatures. Therefore, deliberate actions and protective clothing can help prevent injuries.
Finally, look for schools with job placement departments that will help connect you with potential employers as you prepare for certification.
Step 4: Get Certified
Certifications Give You an Edge
After you complete your welding courses, your school or training program may walk you through how to obtain your certifications in stick welding (SMAW) and flux core (FCAW) applications. Most employers do not require these as a prerequisite. However, you can stand out from other applicants by obtaining them.
In most cases, certification testing fees are included in the program tuition. Look for schools that help you register for the exam and hold review sessions to help you pass with flying colors.
Much Does It Cost?
The costs of different welding schools vary, with tuition typically starting at around $5,000 for three to seven months of classes.
College and university building programs typically take longer and cost more. Count on spending up to $15,000 for courses lasting 15 months. Programs that offer a degree may cost more money and require students to take general education courses in addition to welding classes.
You may wonder if welding school is worth it. Postsecondary writing education gives you the credentials needed to snag jobs in the field. As more and more people attend these courses, it may eventually become a requirement, rather officially or unofficially.
How Much Money Can a Welding Technician Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders make an average of $47,000 per year. So, half of those in the field make less than this and half make more. Low-wage earners average just over $31,000 per year, while the highest 10% of welders make nearly $64,000 per year.
Welders in specialty trades average around $48,000, while those in repair and maintenance make $47,500 per year. Similarly, welding technicians working in a manufacturing environment earn an average of $46,600. Of course, wages vary based on experience, skill level, company size, location and industry.
Those interested in becoming welding technicians often possess certain personality traits that help them succeed in the field. Some of the most important personality traits include strong interpersonal skills, an affinity for problem-solving, mathematical or scientific proclivities, patience and endurance.
- Interpersonal skills: Because welders spend a lot of time working on their own, it’s important to have self-motivation. However, it’s equally important to learn how to collaborate with clients, supervisors and customers to ensure the project remains untracked with the expected outcome.
- Problem-solving: Spotting design flaws and knowing how to fix things on the fly are essential skills for welding technicians. Craftsmen who enjoy problem-solving would likely do well as welding technicians.
- Math and science skills: Why are math and science skills important to a welding technician? Welders deal with chemicals and metals that interact in specific ways. Becoming a great welder involves learning about the chemical and physical aspects of the process. Strong math skills help ensure that each component and the finished piece meet the desired tolerances and measurements.
- Endurance: Welding technicians require great mental endurance and physical strength. The work often involves maintaining uncomfortable positions for prolonged periods.
There are several soft skills that welding technicians would do well to acquire.
Eye for Detail
For example, most welding technicians are detail-oriented. They perform precise work with little room for error. Learning the special characteristics of metal and detecting minute changes in joints, seams and other parts of the piece can prevent mistakes and accidents.
Welding technicians also require manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. They work with a variety of tools simultaneously and have to manipulate one or more metal components at the same time.
Physical strength and stamina also play a huge part in making it through a long welding shift. The safety gear needed to protect the skin and eyes from heated metal often weighs several pounds. Additionally, welders often work in cramped spaces such as inside ships, on crowded factory floors or even underwater.
Spatial orientation skills help welders read diagrams and interpret them to the parts they need to produce.
Welders can look forward to an 8% job growth through 2030. That’s about the same rate expected for job increases in all fields, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
More than 49,000 openings for welding technicians and related fields are expected to open each year through 2030. These openings will come from workers transferring to other careers or retiring.
If you would like to become a welding technician, consider applying to the curated list of schools below, which includes accredited colleges and universities.