Is your dream job to become a welder? With so many opportunities and options out there, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to choose. Don’t worry. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you understand the welding industry and what it takes to make your dream a reality.
Requirements & Eligibility
Like most programs, many welding schools have some basic requirements that will allow you to train and become a welder. It is important that you are at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, and are able to speak and read English fluently before applying to a welding class. With these three things underneath your belt, you’ll be eligible for most welding schools.
Application Process & Costs
After you’ve decided on the welding class you want to take, then comes the application process. Although it may seem like a daunting task, it really only requires a few steps. After submitting an application with all of the paperwork that is needed for the school you have chosen, they will usually require a drug test. Acceptance to the program is then determined after reviewing your application and drug test results. Welding programs at community colleges or vocational schools can cost anywhere from $5,000-$15,000 overall. If that cost is too high for you, however, there is financial aid and scholarships that would be worth looking into. For example, the American Welding Society (AWS) has scholarships that give up to $3,000 for students entering welding programs.
Online programs are usually not very common when it comes to entry-level welding because most employers want to know that you have hands-on experience with the job before being able to hire you. So if you’re seeking entry-level welding certification, an on-campus school is probably the best option for you. Teachers and supervisors are able to help and answer any questions you may have to make sure that you get the best out of their program. If, however, you’re looking to gain a Master’s degree in welding engineering, online classes might be a good option for you, but they still usually require a few classes taken on campus.
Maintaining Certification/License & Renewal
So you’ve finished your welding class. After that huge achievement, what comes next? Certification. The three big types of certification are the American Petroleum Institute (API), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the American Welding Society (AWS). The API is usually required for welders who work in the gas and oil industries. Renewal for certification is required every three years. The ASME is for welders looking to work with pressure vessels and boilers. After taking an ASME-approved course, which usually takes only a few days to complete, graduates are given an ASME Gold Seal certification. It is not needed to renew the license unless the industry codes change. The AWS awards the Certified Welder (CW) license after having taken and passed the CW test. The CW is the most common certificate for welders. To maintain AWS certification, it requires that you apply for re-certification every six months.
Salary & Job Prospects
The hourly earnings for a welder in Rhode Island range anywhere from $20.27-$27.33 an hour. The average entry-level salary is approximately $32,270 a year. If that’s not reason enough to become a welder, job growth is expected to be 3.45% a year from 2012-2020. It has never been a better time to work as a welder in Rhode Island.