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Welders are highly trained craftsmen with a specialist skill set that is needed in many industries such as shipbuilding, construction, automobiles manufacturing and steel, etc. Since the designing and creation of many things is dependent on the competence of welders, this makes them important for many employers.
On the whole, the welding field is quite attractive if you are interested in making a career in it. Welders are paid well and can enjoy good growth over the course of their careers. This guide has all the important info in it.
Welding Education & Requirements
By enrolling in a welding training program or obtaining a specialized degree in welding technology, you are setting yourself up for a comprehensive career path. While the basic job of a welder is to join pieces of metal together, it’s the required knowledge and skills that make them such in-demand tradesmen. To enroll in any welding related certification program or college program, a minimum high school diploma is required. From there on it is the responsibility of the program coordinators to train the students and enhance their skills.
There are different education paths that future welders can take, depending on their career choice and the industry they want to work in. Welders can choose from various degree programs that include:
Associate Degree in Welding Technology
- Two years community college or vocational school program.
- Courses in mathematics, geometry, and drafting.
- Theoretical classes along with practical learning in oxy-fuel welding, cutting, occupational safety, shielded metal arc welding, and gas metal arc welding.
Bachelor’s Degree in Welding Engineering Technology
- Four years degree program with the requirement of prior Associate’s degree.
- Coursework in mathematics, algebra, physics, interpreting blueprints and drawings.
- Thorough understanding and application of pipe welding, tungsten inert gas welding techniques, and metal inert gas welding techniques.
Master of Science in Welding Engineering Technology
- A bachelor’s degree in welding technology is a prerequisite.
- Advanced classes in welding design and processes, general engineering, thermodynamic, and non-destructive evaluation.
- Accredited by the American Welding Society (AWS), there are many certification options that place the welders on the right career path.
- Most certifications take six months to three years, depending on the certification level.
- Certifications are offered in different categories, ranging from educators and trainers to sales representatives and engineers to welding supervisors.
The main goal of all welding related training and degree programs are to prepare students for the trade and develop their skills. Before you decide to enroll in welding school, make sure you have determined a career path for yourself.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Welder
Welders work with different metal types like stainless steel, aluminum, iron, brass, copper, etc. to manufacture different things. Following are some of the main duties they undertake on a regular basis.
- Using welding machines, shapers, cutters, high-temperature lighting flame and other welding equipment to combine different metals together to create new items and structures
- Using welding tools and equipment to ensure repair and maintenance of various metal structures and other items
- Taking proper care of all welding equipment by cleaning and servicing them on a regular basis
- Understanding blueprints, sketches and schematics to determine the materials and equipment needed for any project
Steps to Become a Welder
- Finish high school
This is the least educational qualification you will need in order to start a career as a trainee welder.
- Specialized post-secondary education
You can choose different options including bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees and certificate programs. They will vary in duration from 6 months up to 4 years.
In most cases, welders are either certificate or associate’s degree holders. You will need around 6 months to 1 year in order to complete a certificate program. On the other hand, an associate’s degree will take up to 2 years. A few institutions offer a bachelor’s degree in Welding Engineering and similar fields. You will need up to 4 years to complete a bachelor’s degree program.
This one is optional but you can certainly benefit from undergoing an apprenticeship program. The skills and experience gained through an apprenticeship can give you an edge over your fellow professionals and open up more attractive career opportunities.
Most states in America do not make it obligatory for welders to earn a certification. However, becoming a certified welder will stand you in good stead in your field. The relevant certification body in the United States is the American Welding Society (AWS). Below are the major certifications it offers.
- Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR)
- Certified Welder (CW)
- Certified Welding Educator (CWE)
- Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)
- Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI)
How Much Do Welders Make?
According to the information gathered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers had an annual mean wage of $41,380 in May, 2018. It translates into a per-hour salary of $19.89.
Job Growth and Career Outlook for Welders
An employment growth of 6% is predicted for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers from 2016 to 2026 (as indicated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). This is quite similar to the expected average rise in jobs for other occupations.
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