Associate's and certificate programs are available through schools in California, which usually include courses leading to certification in particular types of welding from the American Welding Society (AWS). While degree programs include general education classes, certificate programs generally do not. Students in welding programs will concentrate much of their time on developing the hands-on skills needed to operate in this field safely. A fabrication practicum or final project may be required.
American River College
Located in Sacramento, American River College offers an Associate in Science (AS) in Welding Technology, as well as certificates related to welding. In the AS program, students complete general education courses in addition to 37 units in welding courses. They learn about various types of welding, such as gas metal arc, gas tungsten arc, shielded metal arc, and flux-cored arc welding. Students also gain instruction in welding metallurgy, welding inspection, welding mathematics, and layout and fabrication.
Certificate programs are for those who want to specialize in the particular types of welding learned in the AS program. Certificates can also be earned in welding metallurgy and inspection, or welding equipment maintenance and blueprint interpretation.
Oroville-based Butte College offers an AS in Welding Technology, as well as a Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology and a Certificate in PowerPathway Gas Pipeline Welding. All three programs include a welding certification preparation course. The 60-unit AS program covers topics like oxyacetylene welding, tube and pipe welding, welding shop practices, and shielding metal arc welding. Students also learn how to read blueprints, perform welding inspection, and prepare for welding employment. A fabrication practicum is also part of this program.
The Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology program requires 43 units in welding-specific courses. Those who pursue the Certificate in PowerPathway Gas Pipe Welding program complete seven units and are prepared to work as apprentices with Pacific Gas and Electric.
At Hayward's Chabot College, students can pursue a two-year associate degree program in welding technology or choose between programs awarding certificates of proficiency in welding or inspection and pipe welding. The A.S. in Welding Technology program requires study of welding layout, flux core welding, and blueprint reading in the freshman year. Welding skills laboratory sessions allow students to put their classroom learning into hands-on practice. In the sophomore year, students learn about welding inspection and pipe systems installation.
The Certificate of Proficiency in Welding program requires completion of six courses covering welding, inspection and testing, blueprint reading, and measurements and calculations. The Certificate of Proficiency program in inspection and pipe welding instructs participants in topics such as advanced arc and flux core welding, advanced pipe welding, and fabrication.
Cosumnes River College
Students at Sacramento-based Cosumnes River College can pursue certificates of proficiency as a welding code specialist, or welding fabricator specialist. A certificate of achievement is available in welding technology as well. Each certificate program includes an introductory course in welding and an advanced shield metal arc welding class. The welding code specialist certificate program also includes a class in welding inspection, while the welding fabricator specialist certificate program includes courses in gas tungsten arc welding. Additionally, there is a welding technology associate's degree program.
Fresno City College
This 2-year college in Fresno offers an Associate in Science in Welding Technology program that allows students to choose an option in metal fabrication or pipe and structural steel certification. Students in both options take courses in topics such as technical computer applications, board drafting, and safety and health. Study in the areas of emphasis begins in the sophomore year. The metal fabrication option includes course topics like design, fabrication, and computer-aided drafting. The pipe and structural steel certification option emphasizes training equal to what is needed to gain certification.
The college also offers programs that award certificates of achievement in welding design and fabrication, and welding multi-process. These programs require completion of 15 and 17 units respectively.
Modesto Junior College
Modesto's 2-year public college offers an AS in Welding. In the 2-year associate degree program, students learn various welding processes, including shielded metal arc, gas tungsten arc, oxyacetylene, pipe, and flux core arc welding. Students can choose day or evening classes.
At this two-year college in Reedley, students can earn an Associate in Science in Welding Technology or a Welder Certificate of Achievement. The AS program includes study of electricity, hydraulics, and reading blueprints, as well as training in basic to advanced welding. Students must complete work experience in manufacturing technology and prepare for welding certification. To earn the Certificate of Achievement in Welding, students must complete the same courses, but without the general education requirements
San Joaquin Delta College
Students in Stockton can pursue a Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology program at San Joaquin Delta College. From introductory and beginning trade welding to electricity, students explore a variety of topics in this 47-unit certificate program. Students learn about working with machine tools, metal forming, and mobile hydraulics, as well as engineering drafting in this two-year program.
Santa Rosa Junior College
Santa Rosa's two-year college offers a Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology. This 17.5-credit-hour certificate program includes study of math for industrial trades, as well as courses in welding, and machine tool technology. Students learn about the use of arc and oxyacetylene welding tools, welding symbols, tungsten inert gas, and metal inert gas welding, as they prepare for certification exams.
Rocklin-based Sierra College offers an AA (Associate of Art) or AS degree in welding technology, as well as a Certificate in Welding and a Skills Certificate in Gas Metal Arc Welding. The associate degree programs differ only in the general education requirements, which are different for each. Both programs include instruction in types of welding, such as gas, metal inert gas, and pipe welding. Students can also choose a welding internship, or courses in welding skill development or technical drafting.
The Certificate in Welding program requires completion of 29-31.5 credit hours in courses covering training for structural steel certification or pipe welding certification, shielded metal arc welding, welding technology, and other topics. Students can also choose an internship, or classes like metal exploration or metal creative design. The school also offers Skills Certificate programs in areas such as gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, and welding entrepreneurship, among others.
No minimum education is required to become a welder, with some employers willing to train workers on the job. However, other employers prefer to hire individuals with formal training. To obtain national certification, an individual must submit an application to AWS and complete a weld test. California welders in the construction field are certified by California's Contractors State License Board.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Welding Degree Programs and Certificates Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|American River College||2-year, public; large suburb|| AS in Welding Technology,
Shielded Metal Arc Plate and Pipe Certificate,
Welding Inspection and Metallurgy Certificate ,
Various Departmental Certificates
| $1,104 in-state,
|Butte College||2-year, public; distant rural|| AS in Welding Technology,
Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology,
Certificate in PowerPathway Gas Pipeline Welding
| $1,364 in-state,
|Chabot College||2-year, public; midsize city|| AS in Welding Technology,
Certificate of Proficiency in Welding,
Certificate of Proficiency in Inspection and Pipe Welding
| $1,138 in-state,
|Cosumnes River College||2-year, public; large city|| AS in Welding Technology,
Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology,
Welding Code Specialist Certificate,
Welding Fabricator Specialist Certificate
|$1,104 in-state, $7,440*|
|Fresno City College||2-year, public; large city|| AS in Welding Technology with Metal Fabrication or Pipe and Structural Steel Certification Options,
Welding and Fabrication Certificate of Achievement,
Welding Multi-Process Certificate of Achievement
| $1,194 in-state,
|Modesto Junior College||2-year, public; midsize city||AS in Welding|| $1,162 in-state,
|Reedley College||2-year, public; distant town|| AS in Welding Technology,
Welder Certificate of Achievement.
| $1,194 in-state,
|San Joaquin Delta College||2-year, public; large city||Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology||$1,104 in-state, $6,312 out-of-state*|
|Santa Rosa Junior College||2-year, public; midsize city||Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology||$1,318 in-state, $6,637 out-of-state*|
|Sierra College||2-year, public; rural fringe|| AA or AS in Welding Technology,
Certificate in Welding,
Various Skills Certificates
| $1,142 in-state,
Source: *NCES College Navigator.