The typical training regimen for metal fabricators starts with on-the-job training or a postsecondary welding program. Although most employers do not require metal fabricators to have college-level coursework, a welding certificate program is recommended and allows workers to gain a better technical understanding of metal fabrication and manufacturing.
A welding certificate adequately prepares students to work as metal fabricators and assemblers with manufacturing companies. A welding certificate teaches students how to use different methods and materials when welding. Students learn how to safely and effectively weld metal by working in the school's welding shop. Typical courses include:
- Welding, cutting and brazing
- Gas metal arc welding and shielded metal arc welding
- Gas tungsten arc welding
- Welding blueprints and diagrams
- Oxy-fuel welding
- Welding safety and accident prevention
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Welders make a median annual wage of $38,150 as of May 2015, according to the BLS. The employment for welders and other types of metal fabricators is expected to grow 4% from 2014-2024, which is slower than average compared to all other occupations.
Licenses and Certifications
Metal fabricators are not required to be licensed or certified in metal fabrication. However, voluntary welding certification from organizations such as the American Welding Society (AWS) can prove welding and fabrication proficiency to potential employers. Metal fabricators who pass a comprehensive welding exam administered by the AWS receive the credentials of certified welding inspector (CWI). With this certification, metal fabricators can increase career prospects and hourly wages.
Workshops and Seminars
Technical and vocational schools that offer welding or metal fabrication programs sometimes hold welding, assembling and fabrication workshops. Workshops typically focus on specific areas of metal fabrication, such as quality control, quality assurance, electromechanical manufacturing or metal fabrication crew management. Employers may provide training workshops to newly hired metal fabricators and assemblers.
Metal fabricators can find professional development resources and networking opportunities at Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International (www.fmanet.org). The organization offers a job board, an online newsletter, metal fabrication research studies and surveys, custom training and continuing education resources. The organizations also holds annual leadership conferences and summits for metal fabricators who have management or supervisory responsibilities.
While welders usually only need a high school diploma or GED to enter the field, certification can provide more opportunities for employment. Aspiring welders can also look into workshops and seminars to improve their knowledge and chances of employment.