Interested in a career in welding? Welders are in high demand around the United States (the field is projected to grow by 6 percent by 2022) and typically offer higher wages than other similar fields. So you’ve picked a great path! Read below to learn key information to get you headed toward a successful career in this field.
Requirements & Eligibility
So what do you need to do in order to begin a career as a welder? The first step is to make sure you have a high school diploma or GED. While this requirement isn’t absolutely necessary to land a welding job, most employers will narrow the applicant field by requiring this credential. The next step is to identify a training or apprenticeship program through a local college or vocational school. The final step is to obtain official certification from the American Welding Society (AWS) after completing a welding education program. There are other certification options such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) Certification and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Certification, but AWS is the most common for entry level welders.
Application Process & Costs
There are many options in Idaho for obtaining your welding degree or certification. Some college options include the following: College of Western Idaho, Idaho State University, North Idaho College, College of Southern Idaho, and Eastern Idaho Technical College. These schools offer a variety of tracks, from associate degrees, to advanced certificates, to basic certificates, and even bachelor’s degrees. And many lead straight into an internship or job at the conclusion of the program. Also, in Idaho, there are some high schools that also offer programs in welding education, many of which are linked directly to the AWS standards and expectations.
Each of the collegiate programs have varying application processes and requirements. Some schools request test scores (ACT/SAT); others require a placement test of some sort; and all of them require a formal application. For the entry level welding certifications, the cost of the programs (tuition/fees and books/supplies) in Idaho typically range from approximately $7000-$14,000. Costs vary depending on whether or not a student chooses to live on campus, how many credits the program consists of, cost of credit, and level of degree or certification.
For individuals who may not be available to attend class in person each day, there are online options out there. However, very few of these options lead to a certification or degree. Because welding is a very hands-on career, it makes sense that programs are also predominantly hands on. There are, however, online noncredit courses that serve as continuing education or courses that help prepare individuals for the AWS or similar exams.
Maintaining Certification/License & Renewal
As previously mentioned, in order to land most welding jobs around the United States, including in Idaho, you must obtain official certification from the American Welding Society (AWS). Specialized positions within the welding field may require additional experience, schooling, or certification, but obtaining this initial certification should be enough to help you get a foot in the door. And while some employers will hire welders at the entry level without this official certification, this is becoming a thing of the past. More and more, getting this AWS certification is a necessary step to a job in the welding field.
Maintaining this AWS certification is a task that needs attention every 6 months. Welders are required to submit maintenance forms at this regular interval. However, no retesting is ever necessary as long as the worker maintains a consistent position in the field of welding.
Salary & Job Prospects
Welding salaries in Idaho range quite a bit depending on the type of welding, level of welding (education, experience, job level), type of welding, and location of the job within the state of Idaho. Salaries for entry level welders in Idaho most often fall in the $35,000 range. With welding jobs clearly trending upward in demand, this field is a great option for those interested in an industry that revolves around hands on projects and has opportunities available both within companies and in self-employment.