Those looking for an exciting and versatile career path in welding first need to learn where to acquire the necessary skills to boost their job prospective. While most welding jobs do not require a college level degree, they do require certain certifications and experience. Adding this valuable skill to your resume can result in endless career opportunities including jobs in inspection, engineering, robotics, sales, project management, and education. There are a few welding programs in Maine to choose from, and understanding their differences can help prospective students make the most informed and rewarding choice.
Requirements & Eligibility
Two acclaimed welding training programs in Maine are at Eastern Maine Community College and Washington County Community College. Because they are part of larger college programs, these both have some prerequisite courses which students must complete prior to enrolling in the welding classes. Prerequisites include Algebra I, and other math and science courses are recommended such as Algebra II, Chemistry, Physics, and Geometry. At New England School of Metalwork and Welding, the only requirements are that students are at least 16 years of age, and have the proper safety equipment to participate in welding labs.
Application Process & Costs
Each school has a different application which can be obtained online through their websites or in paper form at the school’s admissions office. For the NESMW application, all that is required is basic contact information and a credit card number to process tuition payments. The community colleges’ welding certification programs have slight more involved applications and different tuition options depending on whether students are planning to live on campus. The degree programs at the college level are Associate’s level degrees, which require students to apply to the community college first. Specific tuition amounts for each welding course can be found on the schools’ websites for estimation purposes.
While some courses in the welding training programs can be completed online, most have interactive labs which require students to be present. In Maine, the welding degrees at the community colleges allow students to complete their prerequisite courses in math and science online. Completing the required prerequisite courses online can help save time and money. The New England School of Metalwork and Welding, however, prides itself on small class sizes (about six students per semester) in order to give the best student-teacher interaction ratio while learning. The lab time built into these courses allows students to practice their skills and receive in-person correction and adjustments.
Maintaining Certification/License & Renewal
After graduating from one of Maine’s welding education programs, students will take their certification exams. These exams are given by the American Welding Society and are specific to the type of welding graduates will be doing. The community college programs offer A.W.S. Structural Certification, A.S.M.E. Section 9 S.M.A.W. Pipe Certification, and A.S.M.E. Section 9 G.T.A.W. Pipe Certification. Final certification is transferrable from state to state, allowing welders to take their certification with them wherever they go. Some certifications, such as the Inspector’s Certification, must be renewed every nine years. Renewal dates are specific to each certification sub-type.
Salary & Job Prospects
The best part of going through all these training programs and welding tests is the unbeatable salary and job prospects at the other end. Many welding careers bring exciting world travel opportunities, including military support, ship building and repair, pipe line installation, motor sports, and even underwater welding. Salary ranges vary, but those who are willing to travel or work in hazardous conditions can earn well over $100,000 per year. Salaries depend heavily on welding education, experience, and willingness to travel or relocate.