How to Become a Welder: Everything You Need to Know
The need for skilled welders is growing at a rate of about 3 percent per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, that growth rate could accelerate greatly if Congress passes a major bill to upgrade aging infrastructure in the US. Either way, the need for skilled welders in America is only going to continue increasing. If you’re interested in becoming a welder, keep reading for step-by-step instructions on how to enter this exciting field.
In most states, you will be required to go through training, certification and then licensing in order to be eligible for employment as a welder.
Step 1: We Do Not Require High School Diploma or Equivalent
A high school diploma or equivalent is not necessary for acceptance into this certified welding school. But you might get some early exposure to a welding class, depending on where you go to high school.
Some important coursework to complete at the high school level includes algebra, geometry and/or mechanical drawing. Welders are required to do a lot of measuring and calculation, so these courses provide a good base of knowledge for the trade. Science classes can also provide a better understanding of how and why welding and its chemical processes work.
Step 2: Earn Your Welding Certificate or Degree
The next step is to apply for a welding trade school is to find a school that offers certification from the American Welding Society that offers a welding certificate. VTI is one of the few in Arizona. For example, you can start the process at the Vocational Training Institute (VTI) in Phoenix by taking our Welding Technology Career Training Readiness Quiz.
Once you are accepted into our Welding Trade School, you will go through nearly 300 hours of class training. Your time at VTI prepares you for a career in welding through in-class safety and theoretical coursework, as well as many hours of practical, hands-on experience in welding.
Upon completion of your training at VTI, you will be awarded a diploma in welding as well as your 10-hour OSHA safety card. A graduate of VTI is fully prepared for employment as an apprentice welder.
If you wish to seek advanced training as a welder, additional opportunities include earning an Associate’s degree at a two-year institute or a Bachelor’s degree at a four-year institute.
Step 3: Become a Welding Apprentice
Entering into an apprenticeship as welder allows you to begin making money as you become more skilled at your trade. An apprentice works on a job site with experienced welders who will teach them additional hands-on skills, work safety and more.
You will be out of the classroom in an apprenticeship, and improving on everything you learned at welding school in a real-world setting. It also gives you experience with a company that will increase your value in the sight of future employers.
Step 4: Become Certified as a Welder
Most of the certifications for welders in the US are offered through the American Welding Society (AWS). A certificate from the AWS requires payment of a fee and passing a test. Higher-level certifications may require a certain amount of on-the-job training, or a higher-level degree in welding before they can be earned.
In addition, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) have their own individual certifications for welders. If an employer has a specific type of equipment that they work on exclusively, they may have their own certification process for welders.
Here are some of the certificates that can be earned from the American Welding Society:
- Certified Welder (CW): Your coursework at VTI fully prepares you to pass this exam for certification.
- Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): Additional education and a certain time period of employment as a welder is required before taking this test.
- Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI): Even further education and more years of experience are required to qualify for this test.
- Certified Welding Educator (CWE): A full-time or part-time teaching job, a welding certification and more are required to qualify for this test.
- VTI helps get Positions in structural and pipe welding.
Further Information on a Welding Career
As with all professions, on-the-job experience and additional training will allow a person to command a higher salary. As of 2019, the national average salary for certified welders was around $40,000 per year per BLS. Salary ranges vary widely depending on what part of the country you live in and the job type.
For example, welding salaries can range from the $26,000 range in some parts of the country, while welders working for petroleum companies on the North Slope in Alaska can earn well over $60,000 a year.
Contact VTI to Start Your Welder Training Path
If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a welder, or you feel that you’re ready to enter our Welding Trade School, Contact Us at the Vocational Training Institute in Phoenix today!