For those who have the skills and ability to work with their hands, welding can be a challenging and rewarding career. But, in order to gain a job as a welder, whether entry-level or advanced, it is essential to have some degree of training, preferably at a community college level. A basic course can be completed in a few months, whereas more advanced training takes up to two years. Clearly, the more training a worker receives the greater the chance for a well paying position and for advancement opportunities.
At least 10 schools in Oregon offer training in welding. They are: Albany Weld School, Albany; Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton; Clatsop Community College, Astoria; Linn-Benton Community College, Albany; Mount Hood Community College, Gresham; Portland Community College, Portland; Rogue Community College, Grants Pass; Southwestern Oregon Community College, Coos Bay; Treasure Valley Community College, Ontario; and Umpqua Community College, Roseburg.
Training is offered at a variety of levels. At some schools as few as 12 credits are needed for a certificate in career pathway welding, which prepares students for entry-level jobs in welding and related trades. At others, students can qualify as certified welders by earning a Welding Technology Certificate in a nine-month academic year. After two years of study, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree at most colleges.
Here is a look at opportunities available to those who wish to train as welders at Oregon schools.
Requirements and eligibility
In most cases students must be 18 years or older and have at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some schools require that a student be able to pick up at least 75 pounds, have the ability to work with their arms raised, and work an eight-hour shift in all weather conditions. Good eyesight is also considered important.
Application process and costs
Some colleges offer online application forms for their welding programs, but in most cases students should contact the school to find out the specific process that must be followed to apply. Costs range widely, depending on whether a student lives at home or on campus, the equipment, books and supplies that are required, as well as the need for transportation and personal expenses. The total cost also depends on the length of the program. Estimated total costs for a year can run from $8,100 for a 10-week course to $17,200 for a nine-month course. Financial aid is available at many schools.
In most cases online programs are unavailable as welding requires on-site instruction.
Maintaining certification/license and renewal
The degree of certification renewal and maintenance depends on the level of certification. Details are available through the American Welding Society.
Salary and job prospects
Welding generally pays family wages. Depending on an individual’s ability and specialty, college graduates with welding certification in Oregon can expect to earn from $15.95 to $22.41 an hour, with an average annual salary of $40,368.
Demand for welders in Oregon is strong. With an average 170 new jobs available each year, the job market continues to grow. Welders are employed in almost every major industry, including all types of construction and manufacturing. They can be found working on ships, cars, aircraft parts and buildings of all kinds.
Jobs range from basic welding to advanced metal work, including underwater welding. The profession is increasingly high tech; some welders today work on automated systems that use lasers and electron beams to bond metals. Chances for promotion are good, with positions available as certified welding inspectors, engineers and managers.