There are a great many technical schools and community colleges nationwide that offer certificate and degree training programs in welding technology. All programs consist of classroom and practical instruction.
As a welder, you'll be expected to repair and fabricate a variety of metal materials, and there are a variety of technical skills that must be obtained before a welder can be qualified for employment. Schools offer certificate and associate's degree programs for aspiring welders, and these programs include hands-on experience using welding equipment.
Along with your formal classroom training, you have the opportunity to work as an apprentice gaining firsthand experience in the industry. Some programs include certification preparation courses that prepare you for designations like the Certified Welding Fabricator or Certified Welder from the American Welding Society. More information is offered below.
Programs at a Glance
Certificate of Completion in Welding Technology
- A Certificate of Completion in Welding Technology can require the completion of 52-53 credit hours and can be completed in one year.
- This program is generally intended for individuals with little or no prior experience in welding.
Associate of Applied Science in Welding Technology
- An Associate of Applied Science in Welding Technology can require the completion of 67-74 credits hours.
- Because of the hands-on nature of training, there are no online programs available.
Coursework for Welding Technology Programs
A certificate program covers the basics of cutting, brazing and welding and the use of equipment and tools. Some general education courses are often included. You'll learn about welding and production processes, as well as study topics that may include shielded and gas metal arc welding, welding fabrication, rigging, industrial safety, inspection, and blueprint reading. Extensive lab work is common.
A program leading to an Associate in Applied Science in Welding Technology expands on the courses presented in the certificate program and usually includes more general education and elective courses. Some programs include a welding internship work-based learning courses as elective options. An associate's program covers both basic and advanced welding topics that may include blueprint reading, brazing, inspection, welding certification, job safety, pipe welding, machining, technical computing, fabrication, gas metal and gas tungsten arc welding, tool and die welding, heat treatment, electricity, and robotics.
Graduates who have obtained a certificate or degree in welding may seek employment in manufacturing, metal production, transportation or construction. Depending on your skill level and years of experience, you may also seek management positions in a variety of field industries.
Work can be indoors or outdoors, and some welders work as much as 70 hours a week. Certification may be required for certain positions, such as certified robotic arc welder, certified welder, certified welding fabricator or certified welding inspector. The American Welding Society as well as the Institute for Printed Circuits offer certification programs.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers is expected to be slower-than-average at a rate of four percent between 2014 and 2024. However, the BLS notes that welders with up-to-date skills and training should not have much trouble finding a job. Your salary will depend on your position and the region in which you are employed. According to PayScale.com, welders were paid a median wage of $44,127 as of January 2017, with most making salaries between $26,797 and $65,095.
Welding certificate programs are commonly offered at community colleges and technical schools and provide the training necessary to enter the welding industry. Adult learners can also earn an Associate in Applied Science, which requires significantly more coursework though may improve prospects.