Welding Technician (Arc Welding): Educational Overview

Arc welding technicians require little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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You might consider a career as an arc welder if you're interested in industrial manufacturing and enjoy hands-on work. An arc welder can learn the necessary skills through either a certificate program or associate's degree program. The American Welding Society offers voluntary certification in the field.

Essential Information

Welding technicians, also known as welders, are professionals who join metal pieces together. Arc welding, one of the most common forms of welding, involves using electrical currents via metal alligator clips to bond metals together. Technicians connect one of the alligator clips to the piece being worked on and the other to a welding rod in order to fuse two parts together.

Individuals may learn arc welding procedures through postsecondary certificate and associate's degree programs that provide significant hands-on training using welding techniques. Professional certification through the American Welding Society may be required, and postsecondary programs sometimes provide preparation for certification.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in welding
Certification Professional welding certification through the American Welding Society
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers
Median Salary (2015)* $38,150 annually for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Educational Requirements for Welding Technicians

Individuals interested in developing welding skills can find programs at community colleges and technical schools. Students can gain welding skills through formal education programs that result in certificates or associate's degrees.

Curriculum

While certificate programs may only cover a specialized type of arc welding, such as shielded metal arc welding, associate's degree programs typically offer a degree in welding technology, and may provide instruction on several types of arc welding including gas tungsten and shielded metal. Courses may explore topics in non-ferrous metals and flux cored arc welding, as well as blueprint reading and fabrication. Students may also gain considerable hands-on training using industry equipment. Upon completion, graduates are prepared to take certification exams.

Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welding technicians may be required to obtain certifications as welders or for specific skill levels of welding. The American Welding Society offers various certifications for welding technicians. Individuals skillful in arc welding may pursue the Certification Program for Robotic Arc Welding or the Certified Welder program.

Career Info for Welding Technicians

The BLS states that employment of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers should see a 4% increase between 2014 and 2024. The call for welders in manufacturing across industries explains this growth. The BLS states that welders who are willing to relocate should have the best job prospects. In May 2015, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers earned a median annual wage of $38,150.

To recap, an arc welder uses one particular technique to join pieces of metal together. Certificate and associate's degree programs in welding both exist, and both programs include extensive hands-on practice to master the necessary skills. Job growth is expected to be slower than average during the 2014-2024 decade for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers.

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