How to Become a Welder: The Definitive Guide

There’s never been a better time to become a welder and enter one of the most stable, respected and well paying skilled trades in the US.

In fact, a 2016 report published by the Department of Labor showed the number of jobs for welders in the U.S. is projected to rise by 6% during the ten-year period leading up to 2026.

Welders are in demand, there are far less welders than there are welding job opportunities, meaning the salary in the market is continuously rising!


Job Description: What Does a Welder Do?

Welders work on metal element of various building or establishment industries.

They maintain the appliances and apparatus they work with.

They have different classes of work and may work in assembling cars or ships.

Their main job is to merge metal parts together.

Welders mostly work twelve hours and usually work over time.

They are vulnerable to dangerous situations since they work outside daily.

Qualified skilled welders who are willing to work anywhere are in a better position to get permanent jobs.

Duties

  • They set up, operate and maintain welding equipment.
  • They use different welding machines to repair and maintain metal equipment and structures of different sizes.
  • Welders study and paraphrase drawings, illustrations, and layouts to know the type of operations, materials and time needed for projects.
  • They implement personal and company safety measures by using special goggles, helmets and gloves since they deal with dangerous items.
  • They have to have good communication skills which are essential for handling customers and even team members.
  • Welders fabricate and assemble metal structures and equipment through the use of welder, cutters, shapers and measuring tools.
  • They have to produce metals products according to instructions given by customers or employer

Certified Welder Salary: How Much Does It Pay?

Welding is one of the few trades you can find where the salary is that high compared to the amount of time the certification process take.

Being a welder in a world where demand for machines and technology only grows each day is surely exciting, and that puts the welders in a position where the need for them is growing much faster than the workforce, causing their salaries to rise.

Salary varies for welders according to welding skills, industry experience and employer.

The Average annual salary as of July 2019 is $38,150.

On high earning level welders can earn a salary of $45,970 annually, an equivalent of $19.70 an hour.

Welders with advanced certificates and experience are in a position to earn a higher salary.

Read more in our complete report about welder’s salaries:

Salary Info >

Average National Salary: $38,150

$34K
10%
$36K
25%
$38K
50%
$42K
75%
$45K
90%

Average Welding Salaries by State

StateSalary
Alabama$36,877
Alaska$44,396
Arizona$39,138
Arkansas$36,371
California$44,159
Colorado$39,415
Connecticut$46,150
Delaware$41,510
Florida$37,952
Georgia$38,150
Hawaii$41,628
Idaho$37,312
Illinois$40,731
Indiana$38,624
Iowa$37,754
Kansas$37,015
Kentucky$36,806
Louisiana$37,541
Maine$38,110
Maryland$41,075
Massachusetts$43,012
Michigan$39,929
Minnesota$40,324
Mississippi$34,290
Missouri$37,557
Montana$35,837
Nebraska$36,252
Nevada$40,719
New Hampshire$40,126
New Jersey$43,882
New Mexico$35,956
New York$42,419
North Carolina$37,715
North Dakota$36,766
Ohio$38,545
Oklahoma$37,161
Oregon$39,375
Pennsylvania$39,454
Rhode Island$41,668
South Carolina$36,685
South Dakota$33,722
Tennessee$35,916
Texas$38,743
Utah$37,455
Vermont$38,071
Virginia$38,984
Washington$42,299
West Virginia$34,893
Wisconsin$39,012
Wyoming$35,163
* Salary information last updated 2019

A Step-by-step Guide to Becoming a Certified Welder

Step 1 Get a Certificate or Degree in Welding

The certificate training can be completed in as little as 7 months.

The certificate will act as evidence that the welder can physically perform welds necessary for specific jobs assigned by the employer.

Many schools and organizations offer welding courses and certifications.

Therefore welders who keep up with the latest technology and are certified are in a better position to earn a better salary.

Employers look for welders who keep up to date with technology and are certified, for they are sure of getting the best welding services for their industries.

One can further their education in getting an Associate degree as it goes into depth than a normal welding certificate program; as it focuses on higher-level skills needed to pass more challenging welding quality tests.

It also enables one to have special welding ability to handle applications like nuclear power, structural engineering or ship and pipeline building.

Step 2 Participate in an Apprenticeship

With a welding apprenticeship hands on training working with welding equipment should be expected.

This includes helping welders on the job by moving equipment, tools and even supplies, clamping work pieces while welding is being done.

Be eager to learn from qualified welders, follow all safety practices and never be on drugs at all times.

Some industries pay their apprentice and offer apprenticeship schools as they train for their welding certificate for about two to four years.

One can get apprenticeship with secondary school credentials.

The knowledge learned and practical experiences can be of great help and foundation which can be improved as one progress in the welding career.

Step 3 Earn a Welding Certification

This is based on designated tests which determine a welder’s skills and ability to work with different welding metals.

The main part consists of welding either one or more coupons.

Organizations like the American welding society (AWS) offer certifications although most certificates expire over a certain period and may require renewal.

The certifications available include:

Certified Welder (CW)

  • Complete a welder’s training program.
  • Get a copy of the written welding procedure govering the type of welding process on the exam.
  • Schedule an AWS test in your area once you feel comfortable with your skills.
  • Submit certification maintenance paper work to AWS after every six months to maintain welding certifications.

Certified Welder Inspector (CWI)

  • Formal training through a community college or vocational school isn’t required, you can earn a post-secondary education.
  • Send in your certified welding inspector application form with a fee of $850 for members and $1,065 for nonmembers.
  • Pass welding inspector examination.
  • Participate in internship or apprenticeship.
  • Gain work experience.

Certified Associate Welding Inspector (CAWI)

  • One has to pass written and practical tests, which include welding processes, quality assurance and mathematics.
  • At least two years of experience in a welding field.
  • CAWI certification is not legible for renewal.

Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI)

  • Must have been certified as a CWI for 6 years minimum out of 8 years.
  • Must have a minimum of 15 years work experience in at least three of areas listed with AWS B5.1.

Certified Welding Educator (CWE)

  • Must meet specific education and experience.
  • Have a full time or part time teaching job.
  • Have a recognized welding certification.
  • Have a recommendation letter as proof of your ability and qualifications to teach.

Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR)

  • Attendance of seminars fulfills the training required according to the AWS.
  • Have an indoctrination license of completion for welding operation, cutting operation and filler metals.
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Welding Education & Requirements

Specialized training in high school, vocational or community college is one of the requirements needed.

Be able to join an internship program.

One can enroll in an associate degree program in welding or certificate of completion in welding.

One must have experience of hand-on during welding program to become familiar with the tools used in welding career.

Practice with different welding tools and materials’ varying in sizes is also essential.

Welders with bachelor’s degrees earn more and have a variety of employment opportunity.

Tests carried out by AWS are essential as they offer certification as to completion of the training.

Video About The Career


Certification and Licensing

Different welding organization offer welding certification this determines if the applicant has what is takes to perform required jobs.

It ascertains that the welder is familiar with the rules of specific works and can work under pressure and according to contract specifications.

Also certifies that the welder can work with different types of metals according to their thickness, or certain types of welds.

You can also get certification from the American Welding Society (AWS) which offers these certifications:

  • Certified welder
  • Certified welding inspector
  • Certified Robotic Arc welding

Other organizations offer the following certifications:

  • Certification by the American Petroleum Institute (API)
  • American society of mechanical engineers (ASME)

Some states have requirements for welding licensing even if they are certified.

Welders who want to work for state, local or federal government have to check with their employers to be guided on the specific welding certification or licensing needed.

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

Training programs to one becoming a welder depends on which educational route one chooses.

Vocational school education can take less than a year while an internship or apprenticeship can take a few years.

A four years training should be followed if a welder wants to have a bachelor’s degree and earn good money.


Popular Degree Programs


Job Outlook and Growth for Welding

The BLS projection is a 6% growth from 2016 to 2026 for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers.

Their expertise will be required in all national level of infrastructure.

Welding job opportunities are looking good as it has little competition and the need for welders is highly increasing as buildings and structures are continuously deteriorating and technology evolving every year at a rapid pace.

Employment Growth Projection: 6%

404,800
2016
427,300
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 22,500


Should You Become a Welder?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

The job of a welder is incredibly satisfying. Most welding jobs usually entail creating something, for instance, a bridge, a building, a vehicle and in some cases a craft item. Therefore, once the product is complete, the welder usually is proud to have been involved in that particular project.

Additionally, welding needs an individual to have technique, skill as well as some creativity.

In general, the majority of welders say they are proud of the projects they have been involved in and completed successfully.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

The average annual salary of a welder is $40,970, and this is equivalent to $19.70 per hour.

Furthermore, welders can earn a higher salary if they have more job experience and higher certification.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: Medium

According to statistics, the welding industry soon will grow by as much as 26 percent. With this potential growth, welding in the United States is undoubtedly among the fastest-growing occupations.

Welders are required in several different industries; thus, it is no surprise that employment too often is high.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

To be a professional welder, all a person needs is a high school diploma. To learn welding skills, an individual must complete the apprenticeship.

Typically, most welders participate in a certificate program no less than six months. Consequently, they are given some entry-level credentials.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Since welders help in manufacturing and construction industries, they need to study blue prints and do calculations, this needs specific education and skills.

Some of the skills required are as follows:

  • Mathematics skills
  • Identifying joints
  • Following directions
  • Parts and material inspections
  • Cutting and trimming metal objects to dimensions
  • Maintain working areas
  • Detecting changes in molten metal flows
  • Administrative skills
  • Good communication skills to be able to listen to instructions and customer request and are able to ask the correct questions to ensure that the finished product is what the customer gets.
  • Adept at solving problems
  • Technology and tools skills among others
  • Excellent vision with good hand-eye contact
  • Enjoys working with their hand to create things
  • Being able to understand what the job at hand entails.

Once a welder has these or more qualification and skills, one can be assured to have many job opportunities and can stand out during an interview.

Although the growth may not be quick within the welding field, welders have high chances of getting employment.

Welding is a special process in quality and governance should be put in place apart from welding certificate.

Some welders may meet the requirements needed in tests but end up failing when put on actual site.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How Much Does Welding School Cost?

How much your welding education is going to cost depends on which certification you’re after, which state will you be trained at and a few other factors.

For more information about that, visit our program costs page:

Welding Program Costs >

Q. What Welding Job Gets Paid the Highest?

A pipe welder usually is the best-paid welder, and they account for approximately four percent of the total welding jobs.

Moreover, pipe welders, on average, earn a salary of $58,998.

The duties of a pipe welder are to weld and repair pipes in numerous industries.

Some of the industries that employ these welders are shipbuilding, construction, automobile industry as well as other sectors.

Q. Is There a Demand for Welding?

According to statistics, the expected growth of welding shortly is estimated to increase by as much as 26 percent.

Thus, this growth potential proves that in the United States, welding is among the fastest-growing professions.

Because several different industries require the services of welders, employment virtually is always high.

Q. Which State Provides the Best Welding Jobs?

It is in Texas that most of the welding jobs are.

In fact, due to the high number of welding jobs in these state, Texas often is referred to as the United States’ welding jobs capital.

In Texas, the employment rate of welders is incredibly high.

Additionally, the salary here is higher than the average.

Q. To Be a Welder, For How Long Should You Attend School?

With a high school diploma, a person qualifies to be a welder.

Consequently, the individual needs to complete an apprenticeship to learn about welding skills.

Most welders enroll for at least a six-month certificate program to receive some entry-level qualifications.

Q. Are The Benefits Welders Receive Good?

One of the primary benefits of being a welder is having a stable income.

Since welding typically is a high-demand career, employment frequently is steady.

A welder is eligible for health coverage, and possibly a retirement plan or pension if they are employees of an industry or business.

Likewise, they may receive vacation time or paid time off as a job benefit.

Finally, when a welder is employed at an organization, there usually is an identified career advancement path.

Want to Learn More?

If you’re really interested in welding, you should know a few things, we gathered all the must-know information for those who want to be welders.

See all the information in our frequently asked questions page:

Welding FAQs >


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