Welding is a vital trade in Colorado’s construction and manufacturing industries, and the state has a significant number of welders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 4,740 welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers employed in Colorado in May 2021, with an annual mean wage of $49,880.
Steps to Become a Welder in Colorado
Becoming a welder in Colorado requires a combination of education, training, and certification. Here are some steps you can take to become a welder in Colorado:
Get a high school diploma or GED: Welding requires a basic understanding of math, physics, and reading comprehension, so having a high school diploma or GED is necessary.
Consider attending a welding school: Welding schools offer various programs that provide hands-on training in welding techniques and safety procedures. There are several welding schools in Colorado, such as Pickens Technical College, Emily Griffith Technical College, and Front Range Community College.
Complete a welding apprenticeship: Welding apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction and can take up to four years to complete. Apprenticeships are often sponsored by unions or trade associations, and they provide valuable experience and networking opportunities.
Gain welding experience: Experience is essential in the welding industry, so it’s a good idea to work as a welder’s assistant or take on welding projects to build your skills.
Obtain welding certifications: Welding certifications demonstrate your proficiency in specific welding techniques and can increase your employability. There are several certification organizations, such as the American Welding Society (AWS), that offer welding certification programs.
Apply for welding jobs: Once you have completed your education and training, you can start applying for welding jobs in Colorado. Welders are in high demand in Colorado’s construction and manufacturing industries, so there are many job opportunities available.
Best Welding Programs in Colorado
There are several excellent welding programs in Colorado that offer a combination of hands-on training and classroom instruction. Here are some of the best welding programs in Colorado:
Pickens Technical College
Pickens Technical College offers several welding programs, including a Welding Technology Certificate and an Associate of Applied Science in Welding Technology. These programs provide students with hands-on experience in welding techniques, safety procedures, and welding equipment operation.
Emily Griffith Technical College
Emily Griffith Technical College offers a Welding program that prepares students for entry-level welding jobs. The program covers topics such as welding safety, blueprint reading, and welding processes.
Front Range Community College
Front Range Community College offers a Welding Technology program that provides students with hands-on training in welding techniques such as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW).
Pikes Peak Community College
Pikes Peak Community College offers a Welding Technology program that prepares students for careers in welding and metal fabrication. The program includes courses in welding safety, blueprint reading, and welding processes.
Aims Community College
Aims Community College offers a Welding Technology program that covers welding techniques such as MIG, TIG, and Stick welding. Students in this program also gain experience with welding equipment and learn about welding safety procedures.
Certification Process to Become a Welder in Colorado
Becoming a certified welder in Colorado can help you demonstrate your proficiency in welding techniques and increase your employability. Here’s an overview of the certification process to become a welder in Colorado:
- Choose a certification organization: There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, such as the American Welding Society (AWS), the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), and the Welding Certification Bureau (WCB). Choose an organization that is recognized by employers in your area.
- Meet the certification requirements: Each certification organization has its own requirements for certification. Typically, you’ll need to pass a welding test that demonstrates your proficiency in a particular welding technique, such as TIG or MIG welding. You may also need to meet education and work experience requirements.
- Take a welding test: The welding test consists of welding a test piece that is then inspected for quality. The welding test will assess your ability to perform the specific welding technique required for the certification.
- Pass the welding test: If you pass the welding test, you’ll receive your certification. The certification is typically valid for a set period, such as six months to two years, and you’ll need to renew it to maintain your certification.
- Consider additional certifications: You can pursue additional certifications in other welding techniques or welding-related skills, such as welding inspection or welding supervision. This can help you demonstrate a broader range of skills to potential employers.
Welder Salary in Colorado
The salary of a welder in Colorado can vary based on several factors, including experience, location, industry, and the specific type of welding being performed.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, the median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers in Colorado was $47,740. The lowest 10 percent of welders in Colorado earned less than $35,060 per year, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $66,880 per year.
In addition to base salary, welders may also receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, which can impact their overall compensation package.
Career Outlook for Welders in Colorado
The career outlook for welders in Colorado is generally positive, with opportunities available in a variety of industries. According to O*Net OnLine employment of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers in Colorado is projected to grow 17 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Some industries in Colorado with a high demand for welders include construction, manufacturing, and transportation equipment manufacturing. Additionally, welders with experience in specialized areas such as robotics, automation, or high-tech materials may have even more job opportunities.