Very few career choices today offer a certainty of employment now and in the future. Welding is one of these choices. Welding provides a very lucrative career with several options for training. As of 2012, Michigan offered 26 different schools for welding. And the industries that are demanding welders is almost endless. And that demand is not going away.
Requirements & Eligibility
Trade schools and community colleges offer welding courses. Some colleges even provide Associate Degrees in Welding. And if you are looking for a 4 year degree, Ferris State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology. You can even complete online courses. As you can see, there are a wide variety of options available.All curriculums are designed to propel you towards a high paying career in welding.
Application Process & Costs
The cost of obtaining Welding education and training is as varied as the training itself. Vocational schools offer classes for as little as $200-$250 a course. Some colleges offer 2-year programs for around $4,600+ for in-state students. Some can go as high as a four year degree costing over $30,000.
I f you should need financial help, scholarships are offered through the American Welding Society (AWS). Select companies and unions also will occasionally offer scholarships. It is worth your time to investigate this.
Traditional Vocational programs offer a variety of Welding programs. Courses may include blueprint reading, welding, safety, mechanical drawing, metallurgy, physics and math. These are available to be taken on-line. Some schools offer the courses in separate modules, allowing you to complete them at your own pace. Other schools run the course as a structured program. You will still need to invest hands-on time in order to perfect your craft.
Some states require re-certification from time to time. On-line courses are perfect ways to study for and obtain your re-certification.
Maintaining Certification/License & Renewal
When first out of welding school it is mandatory to become certified. However, there is not one distinct test that covers all types of welding. Each test is dependent upon metal thickness, welding process, position and metal types. You must decide the best option for you. There are three basic recommended certifications every new welder should get the AWS S1.r 3G and 4G SMAW combo, and the 3G MIG Welding Certification. With these under your belt you are set for shop and field work. Very specialized exams may expire after 6 months if not applied to a position so decide if they are needed before testing for them.
Salary & Job Prospects
Once you have completed your Welding education, you can begin to look for jobs in the construction, manufacturing, structural metals, and transportation equipment industries to name just a few. The Military also has a need for welders. The field is basically wide open. And after gaining experience, do not overlook the possibility of opening your own business. There is always a need for excellent welders.
Salaries for welders can vary, depending on what type of career you are after. In 2013, The national median job for a welder is $39,110. A welding inspector can expect closer to $58,700. Keep in mind; most welding positions are union jobs so the salary and benefits tend to be higher than professions which are non-union. And if you are willing to travel, work in hazardous conditions or do underwater welding it is possible to earn a 6 figure income.
It is projected that there will be a 6% increase in the number of welding jobs by 2022. While this may seem moderate at best, this increase is more than in most other fields.