Many vocational schools and community colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs in welding. These programs offer classroom and hands-on experience in all types of welding, including flux core arc, gas metal arc, and pipe and gas tungsten arc welding. Certificate programs require less than a year of work, while associate's degree programs take about two years to complete and also include a few general education courses. Graduates of these programs can often apply for professional certification in various types of welding.
Prerequisites for these programs include a high school diploma or GED.
Certificate Program in Welding Technology
A certificate program in welding technology provides training in both the theory and practical skills needed to prepare students for entry-level employment. Some schools offer beginning, experienced, and advanced programs depending on an applicant's background, as well as separate welding inspection options. Programs provide hands-on instruction.
Program coursework at the certificate level provides students with the basic technical skills needed for entry-level welding positions in several industries and advanced instruction designed to increase career opportunities or provide specialized training. Coursework in inspection programs familiarize students with welding standards and provides education in testing methods and inspection techniques. Required coursework often includes the following topics:
- Blueprint reading for welders
- Flux-core arc welding
- Shielded metal arc welding
- Gas metal arc welding
- MIG and TIG processes
Associate of Applied Science in Welding Technology
An associate's degree program in welding technology provides students with hands-on training in the latest welding equipment and procedures. Required coursework guides students through welding theory and helps build practical skills in the many aspects of becoming a professional welder, including robotic welding, non-destructive testing, welding design, welding techniques, and quality assurance. Students gain the mathematical and communicative skills needed to ease into technical and managerial positions within the welding and fabrication industries.
Earning an associate's degree in welding technology requires both field-specific training and general education coursework that includes college algebra, English composition, and basic science. Welding topics covered during an associate's degree program typically include:
- Welding inspection
- Arc welding
- Blueprint reading
- Pipe welding
- Robotic welding
- Welding design
Popular Career Options
Professional welders can find employment opportunities with construction companies, railroads, manufacturing firms, repair shops, and transportation equipment companies. Common job opportunities for those with an associate's degree include:
- Welding supervisor
- Quality assurance inspector
- Welding technician
- Welding instructor
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers were reported to make a median annual salary of $41,380 in 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected employment of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers to have 3% growth during the 2018-2028 decade, and good job opportunities for welders trained in the current technologies were expected.
Continuing Education and Certification
Many community colleges and vocational schools offer continuing education courses approved by the American Welding Society (AWS). These courses provide additional training and certification options in various areas of the welding profession. Certification opportunities through the AWS include welder, welding fabricator, inspector, and educator designations. Once certified, welders must submit certification maintenance forms every six months in order to maintain a credential.
Certificate and associate's degree programs train aspiring welders for jobs in the construction, manufacturing and railroad industries as professional welders and ironworkers. Industry certifications for a variety of different welding positions are readily available through the American Welding Society, an organization that also offers continuing education courses for professional welders.