If you think you might want to become a welder, you’ve come to the right place. This entire site is created for you, whether you want to start a career in welding, learn welding as a hobby, or simply get a better understanding of the steps to become a welder. We’ll walk you through the industry, terms, career options, certification, gear you’ll need and every other detail so you know what it takes to become a good welder. Let’s get started!
How to Become a Welder
The field of welding is set to see an 8-9% increase increase in demand, creating over 375,000 jobs by 2023, according to the American Welding Society. If you want to become a welder, you are joining a profession that offers a lot of benefits and should have a healthy job market for years to come. The beauty of welding is that anyone can learn it and there are a lot of different paths. Some people choose to become a certified welder or attend a trade school, while others learn through an apprenticeship or simply pick up the skills and start working. It is a level playing field to get started, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
We’ll start with the steps to become a welder, then get down to more of the details.
Steps to become a welder
Here’s the quick version:
- Understand welding as a career and determine if it’s for you
- Get a high school diploma or GED
- Complete a welding training program
- Choose a specialization
- Get on-the-job training or an apprenticeship
- Become certified as a welder
To explain what we mean for each of these steps:
Ask first: Should you become a welder?
The first question that you have to answer is if welding is right for you. It takes a lot of effort and discipline to learn this trade, so you don’t want to start if your heart isn’t in it. You also want to make sure that you have the physical ability to be a welder. This includes manual dexterity, ability to stand for long periods of time, and the ability to learn a certain amount about math, metals, and the technologies and methods used in welding. Before getting started, you should also understand what a welder does and the pros and cons of becoming a welder.
You should also have a general idea of the types of careers that welders can get into. The most common careers after completing welding training are in manufacturing, auto repair and maintenance. There are also a lot of opportunities to become a journeyman welder, structural iron and steel worker, welding inspector, or fabricator. Less common, but higher paying jobs in welding include underwater welding, aerospace welding, pipeline welding, military support welding and nuclear industry welding.
You should also plan for a year or two in a training program at a local community college or trade school, plus some time working in real-world shops before you are ready to become a full-time welder. If you want to become a certified welder, there are a couple more steps, but they don’t all have to be done at once. If welding as a career or hobby looks good to you, the next step is to start to understand the requirements.
While there is technically no universal education requirement to become a welder, most employers want to see a high school diploma and some combination of vocational training, on-the-job training and/or apprenticeship. There are always exceptions, but to give yourself the best chance of getting hired, you will want to complete as much training as you can. The usual steps that welders follow are:
- High School Diploma or GED – as a bonus, if you can take any welding or vocational classes in high school, that will give you a head start. Graduating high school with a good understanding of science will also help, but the main goal is to get a degree.
- Welding Training Program – There are a lot of options for welding training programs, including trade school, community college, vocational training, online courses, or even on-the-job training.
Choosing a Specialization
General skills are great, but as you learn, you may want to look at specific careers or types of welding. Training will be different, with a heavier emphasis on certain skills depending on the type of work you want to do. Once you’re familiar with welding methods and how they are used, you’ll determine what welding skills you should master and which ones you should just understand.
On-the-Job Training & Apprenticeships
Depending on your area, there are paid apprenticeships available where you’ll be able to continue to learn welding skills while doing real-world work. You will work alongside journeymen and often get ongoing education and certifications as part of the job, depending on your employer. You can usually find these through your training programs, or through general job boards or even welding specific job listings. You will want to make sure that you have the right welding equipment and gear to be able to work as a professional welder.
There are multiple types of welding certification that you can complete to become a professional welder. While some of these certifications can be completed as part of your vocational or on-the-job training, this is really the final step in becoming a welder. These have different requirements and processes to complete certification, but you will usually have to take a test and show proficiency in real-world welding.
It’s important to emphasize that like any career, not everyone will follow that exact path. You may jump straight from high school into an apprenticeship, or complete your certification before you get a job. That’s fine. The key is to get as much training and working knowledge as you can so when you enter the workforce, you know what you’re doing.
Start Your Career
At this point, the only thing left to do will be to get a job and keep it. In a growing industry with literally thousands of career options, completing this process will be just the beginning. Even if you choose to take your career a different direction, you will have valuable skills and training that can be applied in a lot of different ways. If you have any questions as you go through this process, feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help.