Welder and Welding Technologies

Read about career options for welders, including potential employers and how much you might earn in the field. Learn about the certificate and degree programs that can help you prepare for an entry-level position, and find information about course and training topics.

Is Welding for Me?

Career Overview

Welding involves the use of heat to connect different types of metal parts, including those found in automobiles, buildings and ships, or on overpasses and other structures. The welding process typically requires an understanding of drawings and plans, and many entry-level welders gain the training they need through a vocational or technical training program. Some industries also require welders to hold a professional certification.

Career Options

Welders are employed by a number of different types of companies, including fabricating and welding shops, aircraft and construction companies, shipyards and steel manufacturers. Depending on your experience, you may obtain a job as a welder, welder machine operator or cutter. You might also be employed as a machinist, metal worker or welding inspector. Completion of a 4-year welding engineering and technology program may lead to a position as a welding engineer.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of welding, soldering and brazing workers is expected to increase by 6% nationwide, or slower than average, from 2012-2022. An aging infrastructure and the importance of welders in the manufacturing industry will have a positive effect on job growth. Candidates who are familiar with the most current welding technologies should enjoy the advantage in the job market; an interest in relocating may be beneficial. As of May 2013, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers earned an average annual salary of $39,110, noted the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Do I Become a Welder?

Training Programs

Welding programs can be found at community colleges or technical and vocational schools, and may culminate in an undergraduate certificate or degree. In addition to campus-based training, some schools offer online welding classes, as well as certificate and degree programs in welding.

Certificate programs may include instruction in welding techniques, workshop standards and planning. In an associate degree program, you might also learn how to analyze welding plans and study manufacturing. Other courses in welding might cover topics in coding, composites, conductor detection and piping. Training in safety will most likely be covered; information about fumes, metals and the different types of steel may also be provided.

Specialized programs, such as a certificate or associate degree in combination welding technology, may also be available. Areas of study can include gas tungsten and metal arc welding or flux core welds. As a graduate of a welding program, you should have an understanding of sketching and planning, mathematics, fusing and infrastructures. You'll also be knowledgeable about industry machinery, as well as iron, steel and other metals.

Licensing and Certification

Individual positions may require a Certified Robotic Arc Welding or Certified Welding Inspector credential. A designation as a Certified Welding or Welding Fabricator may be obtained from the American Welding Society (www.aws.org). If you're interested in working in the aerospace or defense industry as a solderer, you may need a certification from the Institute for Printed Circuits (www.ips.org).

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