Career Information for a Degree in Welding Technology

Completion of an apprenticeship or certificate program in welding technology typically covers how to use equipment safely, as well as how to read work orders and blueprints. Learn about training and apprentice programs, as well as career options, job growth and salary info for students of welding technology.

A degree is not necessary to begin a career in welding, but postsecondary training may increase job prospects for those seeking work in this field. A high school diploma, or GED, and on-the-job training or an apprenticeship is required to become a welder, welding machine operator or a boilermaker.

Essential Information

Welding occurs on construction sites, in factories and other settings. Professionals with welding skills use intense heat to join pieces of metal together. Individuals can find careers as welders, welding machine operators or boilermakers after completing an educational program, on-the-job training or an apprenticeship. Read on to learn more.

Career Welders Welding Machine Operators Boilermakers
Required Education High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training available High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training available High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements On-the-job training or apprenticeship On-the-job training or apprenticeship Apprenticeship
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% (for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers) -18% (for all welding, soldering and brazing machine setters, operators and tenders) 9%
Median Salary (2015)* $38,150 (for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers) $36,150 (for all welding, soldering and brazing machine setters, operators and tenders) $60,120

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Training in welding technology commonly leads to work as a welder, welding machine operator or boilermaker, among other options. Take a look at the sections below to learn more about these career paths.

Welders

Welders use a variety of techniques, like arc welding (which uses electrified metal clips with an extremely high charge to join metal parts together) in manufacturing and other related settings. These skilled workers are typically employed in manufacturing industries, but they can also be found working in auto body shops, for construction companies or in other industries.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers should grow by 4% over the 2014-2024 decade. The number of available jobs and ability of a welder to secure a job may be best for those who are willing to relocate. In May 2015, according to the BLS, 386,240 workers were employed in these occupations nationwide. The median hourly wage for these individuals was $18.34 per hour, or $38,150 annually, according to the BLS.

Welding Machine Operators

Sometimes, machines or robots do the actual welding. In these situations, welding machine operators use certain programs to ensure that these welding machines are functioning correctly. They place parts in the machines for welding, as well as troubleshooting and fixing minor problems during operation. Welding machine operators must be able to read and understand work orders and blueprints, which may include welding-specific symbols.

In May 2015, according to the BLS, 53,080 individuals were working as welding, soldering and brazing machine setters, operators and tenders. The median hourly wage for these employees was $17.38 an hour, or $36,150 annually. The BLS notes that employment for all welding, soldering and brazing machine setters, operators and tenders is expected to decline 18% during the 2014-2024 decade.

Boilermakers

Boilermakers are responsible for creation, installation and repair of large containers to heat fluids or contain gaseous materials. These vessels may be used to store chemicals or liquids, or to create power by heating water or other liquids, according to the BLS. These professionals may be responsible for maintenance of these large containers as well. Boilermakers use acetylene torches to weld pieces of metal together to create the boiler or storage container. Apprenticeships are often required and may be found through the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers or other professional organizations. The BLS, reports that the median annual salary for boilermakers in 2015 was $60,120 and estimates 9% job growth between 2014-2024.

Professional Certifications

The American Welding Society (AWS) offers a Certified Welder (CW) professional designation that is performance-based. To earn this certification, an individual must demonstrate their skills by performing specific types of welds that will be judged on their quality. Every six months, a certified welder must submit a certification maintenance form to the AWS.

Educational Overview

Welding technology degree programs teach students arc welding, resistance welding, brazing and soldering, as well as cutting, heat-treating and metallurgy. Students gain knowledge of electrical systems, power sources and different welding technologies, as well as the use and interpretation of visual symbols related to welding. Specific classes in a welding technology degree program might include technical math, hydraulic systems and blueprint interpretation.

With training in welding, it is possible to pursue a career as a welder, a welding machine operator, or a boilermaker. Professional certification, based on skill, is available to prove competency. Welding machine operators can expect a decline in the number of jobs in their field from 2014-2024, although welders and boilermakers are projected to experience job growth of 4% and 9% respectively over the same time period.

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