Welders fuse metal components together to form strong, permanent bonds. They work in all types of industries from construction to automobile manufacturing to aerospace and more. Over 50 percent of all products in the US require welding, which makes this an in-demand career.
What Does a Welder Do?
Welding is a chemical process that fuses two pieces of metal together using intense heat. Their tasks are varied and can include:
- Analyzing and understanding designs.
- Determining the proper tools for each weld.
- Preparing and mounting pieces metal.
- Welding pieces of metal together in different positions according to blueprints and designs.
- Conducting quality control on metal to be welded and tools for welding prior to starting.
- Using the necessary tools and techniques to create the weld.
- Continually monitoring tools and metals to avoid overheating or damage.
- Following all safety and health procedures to avoid accident and injury.
Educational Requirements For Certified Welders
Because welding is a skilled trade that requires precision work, it is necessary to become certified as a welder before landing a great job. Requirements for welders can vary from employer to employer. Some require welders come to the table with certification and experience, while others offer apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
A high school diploma is a minimum requirement for welders. Some welders attend vocational high schools to get trained as they earn their diplomas. Others attend specialized vocational training or degree programs after high school graduation. Formal programs can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years to complete. Upon completion, students may earn a Welding Certificate, an Associate of Science in Welding or even a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering.
In a welding program, students learn the art of heating and shaping metals to form permanent bonds. Classes can include advanced mathematics, blueprint reading, welding symbols, and hands-on welding practicums. Typically, students will learn methods like arc welding, soldering, brazing, casting and bronzing and they will be trained on oxyacetylene welding and cutting, shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding and gas metal arc welding.
How to Get Certified in Welding
Upon completion of training and education, it’s time to move on to certification. Certifications don’t just help you land your first job, they help you advance throughout your career, as well.
Most welding certifications are earned through the American Welding Society (AWS) and they are the most recognized and required certifications by employers. To get certified, welders must meet minimum requirement criteria and pass a certification exam.
Available AWS certifications include:
- Certified Welder (CW): Certification requires successful completion of a $35 exam which must be taken at an AWS Accredited Testing Facility. There are no minimum requirements, which makes it typically the first certification a new welder will pursue.
- Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): Welders must meet minimum education and experience requirements and costs range from $850 – $1065 to take the exam.
- Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI): Welders must meet minimum education and experience requirements and costs range from $850 – $1065 to take the exam.
- Certified Welding Educator (CWE): Welders must hold a full or part-time job as a classroom teacher, they must hold a valid welding certification, they must complete an application and present a letter of recommendation supporting their teaching ability and qualifications. Costs arrange from $635-$850.
- Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR): The requirements for the test vary and candidates should consult with AWS. Costs run between $275 and $355.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Certified Welder?
When you’re excited about a new career, it’s tempting to want to jump right in and get started. However, it does take time to become a certified welder. However, just how long it takes depends on a few factors:
- Training: Vocational schools offer welding programs that can take up to two years to complete. Many schools offer accelerated programs that move a little faster.
- Testing: When you are ready to get certified, you’ll want to prepare for your testing, schedule and pay for your exam.
- Certification: Once you’ve passed your test, it can take as long as four weeks to receive your credentials.
- Maintenance: After you’ve received your certification, you can’t rest on your laurels. You will be expected to maintain your credentials with ongoing testing or code-quality welding projects.
The faster you pass your certification test, the faster you can get to work as a certified welder. The more thoroughly you prepare, the better your chances of passing the test on your first try. AWS recommends studying the QC7 Standard you’ll be tested on and its supplements. When you’re ready to take the test, contact an accredited test facility to register for it. Make sure to bring your QC7 Standard with you on the day of the test.
What Skills Are Needed to be a Welder?
Welding is a skilled trade because it requires aptitude in critical skills like:
- Math skills: Welders need to be able to work well with numbers and measurements because their work must be precise. It is important to have a strong grasp of geometry, algebra and working with fractions.
- Physical strength: Welders work with metal and heavy equipment and therefore must have a degree of physical strength in order to get the job done.
- Stamina: Welders have to stand for long periods of time, often in hot, cramped or awkward spaces. They cannot let fatigue impact the quality of their work.
- Attention to detail: Safe, secure welds require extreme attention to detail.
- Teamwork skills: Welders work as part of a team and they must be able to communicate well, follow directions and lead when called upon.
- Adaptability: As a welder, you will face challenges. You must be able to rise to the occasion, rebound and roll with change.
- Commitment to safety: Welding is a job that is rife with hazards. It is critical to be safety-conscious and go above and beyond when it comes to safe working practices.
- Reliability: Other workers depend on welders to complete their jobs in order to do their own work. A strong work ethic, the ability to work quickly and accurately and overall workplace reliability are critical for success
- Commitment to learning: As a certified welder, you will have to maintain your certifications by keeping your skills sharp. Successful welders are committed to growing and building their skills over time.
How Much Does a Certified Welder Make?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for welders is around $41,000. However, the government groups all welders together with cutters, solderers and brazers, so that number is somewhat skewed. Indeed salary data for certified welders cites a slightly higher figure of $45,000 per year. Glassdoor lists a lower median annual salary of $39,000.
Keep in mind that these are averages – senior welders make much more than new welders, and pay can also vary by industry, geographic location and potential safety hazards on the job, as well. It is also important to remember that Indeed and Glassdoor data comes from jobs posted to their websites, which gives them a much more limited picture.
What is the Job Outlook for a Welder?
According to the BLS, the employment for welders is expected to grow at a rate of six percent through 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations. Growth is expected to be driven by three factors. First, the importance of welding in the manufacturing process. Second, due to anticipated investment in repairing and boosting the nation’s aging infrastructure. Third, for jobs building US military equipment.
Looking for a Job as a Certified Welder?
Welders are in high demand, but it’s not always easy to find the right jobs. If you are a new or experienced certified welder looking for new job opportunities, an expert welding recruiter can be your secret weapon. A recruiter who specializes in welding understands the job market, has connections to jobs that may not be advertised to the public and uses their connections to help you find a job that is truly right for you.
At Integrative Staffing Group, our specialty and focus is making job placements for skilled industrial employees, including certified welders. We partner with hundreds of employers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and across the country that are looking for reliable, skilled welders like you.
Why Choose ISG?
- Our recruiters focus on learning about you as a person – we learn your skills, but we also learn about your talents, interests, preferences and goals.
- We are true experts in skilled trades recruiting. We know the industry, we know your challenges and we have the tools to help you find what you’re looking for.
- Access to unadvertised job opportunities that you will not find conducting a job search on your own.
- A variety of flexible, well-paying job assignments.
- Get an inside track to career positions. Over 70% of our assignments have gone direct hire.
At ISG we believe that skilled workers deserve great benefits. Eligible employees can receive holiday bonuses, vacation pay, 401(k) plan, referral incentives, tuition discounts and medical benefits. If you’re ready to take a step forward in your welding career, contact our team today. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals.