Should I Become a Welding Engineer?
A welding engineer is a type of materials engineer concerned with all aspects of welding that lead to the manufacture of a product. Welding is the process of using a combination of pressure and heat to fuse separate pieces of metal into one piece. These engineers may research more effective welding techniques or design more efficient equipment to aid in the welding process. They may also oversee manufacturing processes to ensure quality control or evaluate inspection procedures. Overtime work is often required in this occupation.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's; some employers prefer a master's degree|
|Degree Field||Materials engineering or welding engineering|
|Licensure and Certification||State licensure is required for welding engineers who offer their services directly to the public|
|Experience||Varies by employer|
|Key Skills||Communication skills; ability to use analytical or scientific software, computer-aided design (CAD) software, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, database user interface and query software, and development environment software|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$92,390 (for materials engineers)|
Sources: St. Petersburg College, O*Net OnLine, *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Now let's check out the individual steps for getting into this career.
Become a Welding Engineer
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Most entry-level jobs in welding engineering require at least a bachelor's degree in the field of materials engineering or welding engineering. Throughout this degree program, students gain an understanding of the properties of various materials. They acquire a solid base of engineering knowledge in order to develop advanced welding techniques and operate special equipment. Bachelor's degree programs in welding engineering may include coursework in chemistry, calculus, trigonometry, physics, design, welding processes, and project management.
In addition to classes, you might participate in an internship. Aspiring welding engineers may be able to improve their prospects for future employment by taking part in an internship program. Some academic programs require that students complete such an internship in order to graduate. Internships not only provide valuable experience, but also help prospective welding engineers decide what particular kind of welding interests them most as a potential future specialization. Sometimes, after graduation an intern will be offered a permanent position with the company that granted the internship.
Step 2: Consider Graduate School
Some jobs require candidates to possess a master's degree in the field of welding engineering. Topics are similar to those discussed in a bachelor's degree program, although they are explored in greater detail. Students wishing to enter a graduate program in welding engineering must have graduated from an undergraduate program that was approved by the ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Accelerated, combined B.S./M.S. programs are also available.
It's also helpful to choose a specialization. According to St. Petersburg College, most welding engineers choose one particular type of welding in which to specialize. Once they have chosen a particular area of concentration, graduate students take electives that relate closely to their primary focus areas. Welding engineers may specialize in electronics, petrochemicals, aerospace and hydrospace, construction, power generation, transportation, or machinery.
Step 3: Obtain an Entry-Level Position as a Welding Engineer
Entry-level welding engineers may be hired straight out of college, although they may have to go through a probationary period until they've gained experience. Potential work environments include research laboratories, manufacturing plants, shipyards, construction sites, oil pipelines, and off-shore drilling platforms. Once a welding engineer has been on the job for four years, he or she is eligible to take the examination to become a Professional Engineer.
To improve your chances of gaining entry-level employment, join a professional organization. Several professional organizations are available to welding engineers, including the American Welding Society (AWS); the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME); the Edison Welding Institute (EWI); the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS); and the American Society for Materials International (ASM International). These organizations offer continuing education seminars and extensive online information about technical advances. A professional welding engineer must take continuing education classes throughout his or her career.
Step 4: Attain Licensure
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineers in all 50 states who offer their services directly to the public are required to attain a license. Once an engineer is licensed, he or she is considered a Professional Engineer (PE). In order to qualify to take the exam for a state license, candidates must have a degree from a university accredited by ABET and four years of work experience.
Step 5: Consider Certification
A welding engineer who wishes to advance professionally may want to take the AWS exam to become a Certified Welding Engineer. This distinction signifies that the person who holds it is qualified to direct welding operations according to established industry standards. This certificate is different from the PE and does not entitle the holder to offer services directly to the public. However, such a designation does indicate advanced knowledge in the field and may help career prospects.
To recap, with a bachelor's degree, work experience, and possibly certification and/or licensure, welding engineers can earn about $91,000 a year to research more effective welding techniques or design more efficient equipment to aid in the welding process, as well as oversee manufacturing processes to ensure quality control or evaluate inspection procedures.