How to Become a Welder
If you are seeking information or advice about how to become a welder, there are several required steps that can be taken to become part of this growing and often high-paying occupation. Welders are highly skilled professionals who use special tools and techniques to meld pieces of metal together. Welders commonly work as pipe-fitters, on boilermakers and as iron workers in manufacturing or industrial environments; or they may work under water on ships and vessels,
Educational Certification Requirements for Welders
To become a welder, one must have a minimum of a high school education and be trained and certified under industry standards. In the United States, the American Welding Society (AWS) certifies training and testing facilities for welders. Potential students can contact AWS offices to find a training facility and a testing location near their residence. Students enter into training that lasts between six to twelve months and when they are deemed ready by a welding supervisor, the call to schedule a test is made. It is very important to note that not all testing and training facilities are certified in all types of welding practices. Once a welder completes a test, he or she is certified to practice the type of welding tested for.
Additional Training or Skills Needed as a Welder
To stay certified, a welder must continue to use their knowledge on the job on an ongoing basis. A break in employment may require the need to retake a particular certification test. Welders are free to get certified in multiple disciplines. Every six months, a welder has to file a fee for each certification type held. This can get very expensive if a welder has several different certifications. However, the cost of getting certified is well worth it, for the variety of jobs available for the experienced welder and the earnings are generally above average in most industries.
Advice on Apprenticeships for Welders
Having a welding certification does not necessarily make a person the best welder. The age old practice of apprenticeship is a tried and true way to learn the trade. Many businesses still encourage welders to work through an apprenticeship with an employer, even after becoming certified. This allows a welder to have a verifiable record of work to keep certifications current while gaining valuable experience, eventually becoming a respected member of the trade. Some of the best advice a new welder can take is to learn from those who have been in the business. More experienced welders understand the most useful techniques and have the unique understanding of the business that can take years off the learning process.
Career Outlook and Earnings for Welders
For the new welder, there are many opportunities to become part of a work team with industrial or engineering firms. In addition, there are jobs for welders in the military industry. Many welders eventually go on to open their own businesses doing contract work sometimes for the same employer for which they once worked or completed their apprenticeship. Pay rates can vary depending on the region in which welders work, however they are generally in the $15-25 USD per hour range. Welding is a very worthwhile trade to learn, and for those who complete quality work, the rewards continue throughout their lives.