Welding Education Requirements and Career Information
Welders are tradesmen who specialize in fabricating products by joining together materials like steel, brass, stainless steel and aluminum. Welding skills may be gained by attending formal courses or through on-the-job training. These skills can be applied to automobile manufacturing, ship building, construction and the creative arts. A strong technical education in the various forms of welding will expand career possibilities.
Education Requirements for Welders
Welding education requirements vary by employer. Some employers require welders to have a high school diploma and require completion of employer-based welding tests. Other employers look for a certificate or undergraduate degree from a technical school, vocational school or community college. Welders may also learn techniques through welding apprenticeships.
Welding education programs may culminate in a Welding Certificate of Achievement, Associate of Science in Welding or Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering. Formal education programs may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years to complete.
Students in a welding program learn the art of heating and shaping metals. Required classes may include advanced mathematics, metallurgy, blueprint reading, welding symbols, pipe layout and a welding practicum. Methods and techniques taught in welding classes include arc welding, soldering, brazing, casting and bronzing. Hands-on training often includes oxyacetylene welding and cutting, shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding and gas metal arc welding.
Building a successful welding career requires good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity, communication skills and problem-solving skills. Possible careers include welding inspector, welding fabricator, welding sales representative, welding educator, supervisor, welding engineer and foreman. Career options may expand for welders with more expertise and education.
Being educated in the latest technologies is essential, as is a willingness to relocate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders earned a median wage of $16.13 in May 2008. Job prospects for welders are expected to decline about two percent between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov).
Optional national certification is available through the American Welding Society (AWS). Certification may be achieved independently or through welding programs that are accredited by the AWS. Employers may also have their own internal certification tests. Welding professionals typically work at least 40 hours a week in workshops, factories or construction sites. Due to the hazardous nature of welding, safety training and supervision are required before a welder can work independently in the field.
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