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How to become a Welder


Welding is a popular career path that provides financial security and artistic fulfilment while having minimal barriers to entry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics approximates a 3% growth in welding careers over the next 10 years, with welders needed to repair or build highways, structures, and buildings throughout the nation.

Welding is a trade that offers a promising career path for individuals interested in working with their hands to create and repair metal structures. In this comprehensive guide on how to become a welder, we’ll cover the various types of welds, their roles and responsibilities, salary potential, requirements, and the career paths one can pursue in this field.
How to become a welder

What is a Welder?

A welder is a skilled professional who specializes in joining metal parts or components through the application of heat and pressure, welders play crucial roles across various industries including construction, manufacturing, automotive and aerospace, among many others.

Because of the large landscape relying on welders and their precise skillset, those entering this field will find that there are many different paths available to them, each requiring a unique range of techniques, tools, and materials.

How much do welders make?

The earning potential for welders can vary based on factors such as experience, certifications, location, and industry. On average welders in the U.S. can earn between $40,467 and $82,798 annually. Welders with the most experience and qualifications, especially those in specialized areas such as rig, underwater, or nuclear welding, may be able to earn salaries of up to six figures.

What do welders do?

Welders play a vital role in the fabrication and construction processes, providing foundational support to our infrastructure. To perform their jobs, welders must follow safety regulations to handle flame usage properly and responsibly, and upon completion, they’ll often conduct quality inspections and tests to ensure the integrity and strengths of welds. 

Before beginning a weld, they must read and interpret blueprints, technical drawings, and welding symbols, as well as prepare and clean metal surfaces to ensure proper alignment. They’ll then perform their task after selecting welding type, equipment, and materials based on the specific project requirements. 

What type of welders are there?

Given the vital role that welding plays in our world, there are many different types of welding careers. Each of them offering unique welder working conditions.

Below are just some of the more common welder types:

Structural Welders specialize in welding large metal structures like bridges, buildings, and pipelines. They employ techniques suitable for heavy-duty applications, creating secure and robust connections that withstand environmental stressors.

Pipe Welders focus on joining pipes made of materials such as steel, stainless steel, or aluminum. Their expertise is essential in industries like oil and gas, plumbing, and infrastructure development.

Sheet Metal Welders work with thin-gauge metals used in automotive, aerospace, and HVAC industries. They possess precise welding skills to create aesthetically pleasing welds on metal sheets.

Underwater Welders perform welding tasks in underwater environments. They undertake specialized training and certifications to work safely under challenging conditions, often in the construction and maintenance of offshore structures, underwater pipelines, and ship repairs. 

Robotic Welder program and operate automated welding systems used in large-scale manufacturing operations. Their skills are in high demand in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and heavy machinery manufacturing.

What are the requirements for welding?

Specific requirements may vary based on location, employer, and chosen field/industry, however, there is a general set of prerequisites and welding skills that are most sought out by employers.  

While obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent is usually required, completing a welding program at a technical school, or participating in an apprenticeship is not. That being said, these programs do provide hands-on training and comprehensive knowledge of welding techniques and can be very beneficial to anyone beginning in the trade. 

Additionally, many (but not all) employers prefer or require welders to hold certifications such as Certified Welder (CW) or Certified Welder Inspector (CWI) from reputable organizations like the American Welding Society (AWS). 

Aside from educational requirements, welders should be aware of the soft skills that would most benefit them in this field. Welding often involves working in physically demanding environments, therefore having a certain level of physical aptitude and manual dexterity is often required. The profession also requires excellent attention to detail to ensure the accuracy and quality of welds, as well as the observation of safety regulations. Lastly, welding often involves the measuring of dimensions, so complementing math skills such as geometry can be beneficial to those pursuing this career.  

How to become a welder?

Below are the steps on how to start welding career:

  1. Research and Choose a Welding Specialization: Determine your interest and explore the demand for specific welding types in your area or desired industry.
  2. Enroll in a Welding Program: While formal training is not often a prerequisite, a welding program from a vocational school or community college provides hands-on training and theoretical knowledge to help develop or kick start your welding career.
  3. Gain Practical Experience: Seek internships, apprenticeships, or entry-level welder positions to gain practical experience in welding that allows you to apply your learned skills in real-world scenarios.
  4. Obtain Relevant Certifications: Pursue certifications like Certified Welder (CW) or other industry-recognized credentials to enhance your value and demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.
  5. Network Within the Community: Connect with experienced welders, industry professionals, and potential employers to learn about job opportunities and gain insights into the industry.

What is the welder career path?

As a welder, your career path can evolve in several ways. After gaining experience, certifications, and specialized welding skills, you may progress to roles such as:

Welding Inspector: Inspect and assess weld quality, ensuring compliance with industry standards and regulations. ($52,090 and $69,947 national average)

Welding Supervisor: Oversee welding projects, manage a team of welders, and ensure adherence to safety protocols. ($57,961 and $76,294 national average)

Welding Engineer: Apply engineering principles to welding processes, design welding procedures, and optimize welding techniques. ($77,639 and $93,347 national average)

Welding Instructor: Share your knowledge and experience by teaching welding courses at vocational schools or becoming a welding instructor. ($50,888 and $65,353 national average)

Becoming a welder opens the door to a diverse range of career opportunities and offers a stable and rewarding path. By understanding the different types of welders, their roles, requirements, and career paths, you can make informed decisions and take the necessary steps to pursue a successful career in welding.

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