Welding education requirements vary by employer. Some employers require welders to have a high school diploma and require completion of employer-based welding tests. Other employers look for a certificate or undergraduate degree from a technical school, vocational school or community college. Welders may also learn techniques through welding apprenticeships.
Welding education programs may culminate in a Welding Certificate of Achievement, Associate of Science in Welding or Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering. Formal education programs may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years to complete.
Students in a welding program learn the art of heating and shaping metals. Required classes may include advanced mathematics, metallurgy, blueprint reading, welding symbols, pipe layout and a welding practicum. Methods and techniques taught in welding classes include arc welding, soldering, brazing, casting and bronzing. Hands-on training often includes oxyacetylene welding and cutting, shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding and gas metal arc welding.
Building a successful welding career requires good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity, communication skills and problem-solving skills. Possible careers include welding inspector, welding fabricator, welding sales representative, welding educator, supervisor, welding engineer and foreman. Career options may expand for welders with more expertise and education.
Being educated in the latest technologies is essential, as is a willingness to relocate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders earned a mean hourly wage of $21.33 in May 2018. Job prospects for welders are expected to increase by three percent between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov).
Optional national certification is available through the American Welding Society (AWS). Certification may be achieved independently or through welding programs that are accredited by the AWS. Employers may also have their own internal certification tests. Welding professionals typically work at least 40 hours a week in workshops, factories or construction sites. Due to the hazardous nature of welding, safety training and supervision are required before a welder can work independently in the field.
Welders may need a high school diploma or equivalent at minimum, but most attend technical school or community college programs to learn their trade, and employers prefer those with certification. On-the-job experience is just as important, and it’s typically attained by working for several years as an apprentice.