Welding Trade School Program Information

Read about trade school programs in welding. Find out about admission requirements and what is studied in these types of programs. Get career information about welders, including job growth statistics and average annual earnings.

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Essential Information

Welding trade schools offer educational programs that may run from several weeks to a few years, depending on the specialization, and are usually at the certificate level. Welding trade school programs educate students, using classroom lectures and hands-on training, on the intricacies of joining two or more metal objects. This is done by applying heat to two or more pieces, which melt and fuse together to create a permanent bond. Enrollees learn to weld for a variety of industries, such as shipbuilding, automobile repair, building construction or aerospace.

Students may learn to weld manually (operating the welding apparatus by hand) or automatically (using a network of robots to handle the welding process). Automated welding is increasing in popularity among manufacturing industries. However, almost all students must learn basic arc welding, which is the simplest type of welding and uses electric heat to weld metals together.

Equipment and welding techniques used may differ greatly between industries. This is largely because metal types require different temperatures to work together effectively. It is common to find welding schools that specialize in one kind of welding, specific to one particular industry.

Educational Prerequisites

Most welding trade schools do not have any prerequisites beyond a high school diploma or GED certificate. However, admission to highly specialized welding schools or advanced programs may require an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Program Coursework

For all levels, welding trade school curriculum almost entirely takes place on the shop floor. Only a short time is spent in the classroom, where techniques are learned before they are practiced under the supervision of a welding expert. Highly specialized industries, such as aerospace, require students to spend additional time in the classroom learning theory and completing science lessons. Traditionally, welding courses may include:

  • Principles of welding
  • Arc welding
  • Shop safety
  • Metal chemistry
  • Automated welding

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers would increase 15% between 2010 and 2020, which is average growth compared to other jobs. Employees who remain current in the latest technologies should have the best job prospects. Welders and similar workers made a mean salary of $38,410 per year as of May 2012, according to the BLS. The lowest-paid ten percent of welders made less than $24,720 annually, while the highest-paid ten percent of workers earned more than $56,130 yearly (www.bls.gov).

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