While welders and metal workers may be able to get jobs with a high school diploma, it is becoming more common for business owners to want their employees to have graduated from associate's degree or certificate programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; individuals in Southern California may choose from programs leading to both types of awards. Curriculum concentrates on the development of hands-on welding and safety skills. Degree programs additionally include general education classes.
Certification for particular types of welding may also be required by some employers or by some cities through departments such as the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. The American Welding Society (AWS) awards certifications.
In Southern California, the following ten schools offer training in welding and prepare students for professional certification. Read on to learn about these schools.
As part of the four welding certificate program options at Cerritos College in Norwalk, students take the same three required 10 units of courses in arc welding, shop math, and blueprint reading before taking the courses needed for their chosen specializations. Options include arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, pipe welding, and welding fabrication and layout. The units required depend on the option, ranging from 18-24. Two elective classes are also available. Students in all these programs have the opportunity to
College of the Canyons
The student interested in pursuing welding at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita can earn an Associate of Science, Certificate of Achievement, or Certificate of Specialization. The Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology program requires the completion of 27 units, with students choosing from various options. Topics include shield metal arc welding, industrial welding, and metal fabrication, among other topics. Electives are available like welding metallurgy, computations and measurements, or technical writing. Students who want to earn as Associate of Science take an additional 30 units in general education courses.
Individuals can also specialize by earning a Certificate of Specialization in Welding Technology: Shielded Metal Arc Welding. They learn to weld structural steel and earn 16.5 units to graduate.
El Camino College
Students at El Camino College in Torrance must earn 60 units to be awarded the Associate in Science in Welding. Required course topics in the major include welding technology, shielded metal arc welding, structural fabrication, and gas tungsten arc welding. Electives include mechanical drafting, general metals, or technical math.
Students not looking for a degree can earn certificates of achievement in welding 1 or welding 2. The former option requires 32 units, while the second option requires 41-44. Day and evening programs are available. Students who have achieved certain grade point averages can earn certificate of achievements with honor, or with high honors.
Through the Welding Department at this college in Fullerton, a Vocational Certificate in Welding Technology program is available for those looking for employment in fields such as general and structural welding, fabrication, and manufacturing.
Students complete 19 units in courses from the major and five units in electives. They take a required introductory course in welding and a basic course in industrial welding. Students also learn about gas, semiautomatic, inert gas, and manual arc welding. In addition, a course in gaining structural welding certification is part of the program. Elective choices include blueprint reading, drafting, machine tools, and industrial safety, among others.
Long Beach City College
This college in Long Beach offers a wide variety of certificate programs in welding, as well as an Associate in Science (AS) program in welding technology. Students in the AS program take such classes as machine tool operation; inert gas welding; and arc, gas acetylene, and inert gas welding. Students also meet general education requirements and prepare for arc welding structural certification.
The college also offers a Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology program that features the same welding courses as in the degree program. Students who wish to specialize can earn certificates of accomplishment in various types of welding, such as arc welding and fabrication or oxygen acetylene welding and cutting. Each certificate program has its own requirements and must be completed within one and a half years of enrollment.
Orange Coast College
Costa Mesa's Orange Coast College offers multiple certificate programs in several welding specializations. A student can also earn an Associate in Science or Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology. The Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology program includes classes in math and fabrication layout, welding metallurgy, arc welding, and oxyacetylene welding.
To earn an Associate in Science in Welding Technology, a student must complete all of the courses in the certificate program plus general education requirements. The student who chooses to specialize in a particular type of welding, such as gas tungsten or gas metal arc welding, can earn a Certificate of Specialization. A student may also earn a certificate in basic, intermediate or advanced welding.
San Marcos-based Palomar College offers a Certificate of Achievement or Associate in Arts (AA) in Welding Technology. One can also earn a Certificate of Proficiency in three different entry-level options, including shielded arc metal welding, gas metal arc/flux cored welding or gas tungsten arc welding. In the Certificate of Achievement program, students take classes in metal cutting, brazing and soldering, print reading, gas metal and flux core arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, and shielded metal arc welding. Other required courses include welder qualification and fabrication metal layout. The student in the AA in Welding Technology program takes additional general education courses.
The Certificate of Proficiency programs have varying requirements, although common courses include a basic welding class - where the student learns safe practices, setup and operation of various types of welding equipment - and technical mathematics and print reading. Other requirements vary, depending on a student's specialty.
Pasadena City College
At this city college in Pasadena, students can build their welding skills through certificate options in basic welding, construction welding, and gas tungsten and gas metal welding. In the 4-unit basic welding program, students take introductory classes in tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, electric arc welding, and gas welding, as well as an advanced arc welding class. There are also elective options. Students learn to perform brazing and cutting and use oxyacetylene torches. Graduates earn an Occupational Skills Certificate.
In the construction welding program, through which graduates earn a Certificate of Achievement after completing 26 units, coursework focuses on fabricating and joining steel and aluminum components using shielded metal arc and flux cored arc welding. Required classes include construction trade welding, technical calculations, and engineering graphics. Elective options include machine technology, production technology, milling operations, tool making, and TIG welding, among other topics. This program prepares students to take AWS certification exams in the areas of light gauge structural and structural steel groove welding.
The Certificate of Achievement in Gas Tungsten and Gas Metal Welding program involves 29 units and teaches students about gas tungsten arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, and gas metal arc welding techniques, all used for precision welds of aluminum, steel, and stainless steel pieces. Coursework for this program includes technical calculations, semi-automatic gas tungsten welding, and engineering graphics. Electives are also available. This program also prepares students for AWS certification exams.
Riverside City College
This city college, located in Riverside, provides an Associate in Science in Welding Technology program that can lead to professional welding certification. In this two-year program, students learn about basic and advanced shield metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding for plastic and other materials, and semi-automatic welding, among other subjects. In elective courses, students can choose to complete welding work experience, learn to read blueprints, or learn about basic oxyacetylene welding. Students also earn a certificate as part of the program, and general education courses are required.
Santa Ana College
At this college in Santa Ana, students in the welding technology program can earn a Certificate of Achievement or Associate of Science. Exams for obtaining professional certifications are also administered here because the school's program is a Los Angeles Certified Testing Lab Facility. The certificate program includes courses in oxyacetylene and inert gas arc welding, blueprint reading, and metals technology. Students also complete four welding-related electives. The associate degree program includes the same courses, along with general education classes. At the end of the program, students can earn certification in shield metal arc welding, TIG and metal inert gas (MIG) welding, and flex core arc welding.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Welding Degree and Certificate Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees|
|Cerritos College||2-year, public; small city||Certificate of Achievement in Arc Welding, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, Pipe Welding, or Welding Fabrication and Layout||$46 per unit for residents; $285 per unit for non-residents (Starting Fall 2019)*|
|College of the Canyons||2-year, public; midsize suburb|| Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology,
Certificate of Specialization in Welding Technology: Shielded Metal Arc Welding,
Associate of Science in Welding Technology
|$1,156 in-state; $7,612 out-of-state (2018-2019)**|
|El Camino College||2-year, public; large suburb|| of Achievement in Welding 1 or Welding 2,
Associate in Science in Welding
|$1,144 in-state; $6,520 out-of-state (2018-2019)**|
|Fullerton College||2-year, public; midsize city||Vocational Certificate in Welding Technology||$46 per unit for residents; $249 per unit for non-residents (No Date Given)***|
|Long Beach City College||2-year public; large city|| Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology,
Certificate of Accomplishment in various welding options,
Associate in Science in Welding Technology
|$1,174 in-state; $7,750 out-of-state (2018-2019)**|
|Orange Coast College||2-year, public; midsize city|| Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology,
Certificate of Specialization in various welding options,
Associate in Science in Welding Technology
|$1,186 in-state; $7,978 out-of-state (2018-2019)**|
|Palomar College||2-year, public; small city|| Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology,
Certificate of Proficiency in Entry-Level Shielded Arc Metal Welding, Entry-Level Gas Metal Arc/Flux Cored Welding, or Entry-Level Gas Tungsten Arc Welding,
Associate in Arts in Welding Technology
|$1,338 in-state; $8,702 out-of-state (2018-2019)**|
|Pasadena City College||2-year, public; midsize city|| Occupational Skills Certificate in Basic Welding,
Certificate of Achievement in Construction Welding,
Certificate of Achievement in Gas Tungsten and Gas Metal Welding
|Based upon an average of 12 units per term, $1,330 resident; $8,736 non-resident (2019-2020)****|
|Riverside City College||2-year public; large city||Associate in Science in Welding Technology||$1,420 in-state; $9,160 out-of-state (2018-2019)**|
|Santa Ana College||2-year public; large city|| Certificate of Achievement in Welding Technology,
Associate of Science in Welding Technology
|$1,160 in-state; $8,960 out-of-state (2018-2019)**|
Sources: *Cerritos College, **NCES College Navigator, ***Fullerton College, ****Pasadena City College.