If you enjoy working with your hands to build or repair certain items, welding may be the ideal career for you. Since it involves using complex tools and flames, welding requires plenty of practice and training to remain successful in the field. Once this education and experience is gained, welders can continue building their skillset to eventually advance in their career and complete larger projects.
In this article, we outline what a welder does, how much they make, how to become a welder and frequently asked questions regarding their career.
What does a welder do?
A welder is a professional trained in using heat to join different types of metals together to build or repair various products or goods. Since there is an array of products welders can build, there are several types of welding you can pursue. The tasks of welding can include building and repairing housing or commercial structures, automobiles, bridges, ships or aircraft.
Common responsibilities of a welder may include:
- Making sure each project completed is durable and safe for consumers to use
- Following safety regulations to handle flame usage safely and responsibly
- Maintaining the proper temperature of the flame and metals during the welding process
- Cleaning and storing welding equipment
- Viewing blueprints to determine the length and dimensions of the product being welded
Average welder salary
National average salary: $17.89 per hour
Welders often work full time and are hired by a company to focus on repairing or building specific types of structures. They may work long or irregular hours that often differ from the average work schedule. The salary welders earn may depend on what type of welding they work with as well as the education they choose to receive. If a welder earns higher degrees or certifications, they may also earn higher-paid positions. Welder salaries may also vary depending on the state they choose to work in.
How to become a welder
Follow the steps below to pursue a welding career:
- Research the different types of welding jobs.
- Take welding courses.
- Earn your welding certificate.
- Gain hands-on experience.
- Become a certified welder.
- Begin your job search.
1. Research the different types of welding jobs
Before becoming a welder, you should research the different welding options available. This can help you learn which tasks and responsibilities of specific welding positions best align with your strengths and abilities. Since the responsibilities of various welding careers can vary, different training or certifications are required.
Researching the tasks each welding career entails can help you gain a better understanding of what type of education and training you should pursue. You can also research different welding jobs to learn which duties you may enjoy completing.
Related: The Essential Job Search Guide
2. Take welding courses
Once you've chosen the type of welding career you'd like to pursue, research what the educational requirements are for that specialty. Most welding careers require a high school diploma or GED. If your high school offers welding courses, take these to learn more about the various types of welding. It's also best to take math courses that complement welding, like geometry, since welding often involves measuring dimensions.
3. Earn your welding certificate
After receiving high school education, you can pursue further education by enrolling in welding certificate programs or community college. Welding certificate programs typically last approximately six months to two years and can help you build your general knowledge of welding duties and responsibilities. Some welders, based on their specialty, may choose to continue their education and pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Welding.
4. Gain hands-on experience
Once you've gained accreditation as a welder, you can begin hands-on training through an apprenticeship for the specific type of welding you hope to pursue. With an apprenticeship, you can shadow and complete supervised work to learn more about the regular schedule and responsibilities of a welder.
Once you've completed your apprenticeship, you can either stay with the company you served the apprenticeship for if they allow it, or you can take this experience and apply it to a new, full-time welding position.
5. Become a certified welder
Before you work full time, you will need to become certified to complete the specific type of welding you're aiming to pursue. There are many certifications available to welders, depending on the skillset you earn and the welding career you plan to work in. The main certification employers will require is the basic AWS Certified Welder certification.
You will take an exam to earn this certification, which is offered at many AWS Accredited Testing Facilities. There aren't any requirements needed to take this exam. It will consist of a written portion as well as an examination of your welding skill and performance.
6. Begin your job search
Once you've received the necessary education, training and experience, you can start searching for welding positions. Look for job postings online to find jobs that match your current skills or experience. You can highlight these skills in your resume. List each skill within your job experience using detailed and specific examples.
You can also include your skills in a specific section of your resume. Try to feature the skills listed on the job posting within your resume.
Below are common questions about becoming a welder:
What types of welding are available?
Employees often use this type of welding when working in construction and manufacturing to weld larger and thicker materials together. It's also referred to as "stick welding" and involves basic fusion practices.
As one of the most popular welding practices, MIG welding involves fusing stainless steel, mild steel and aluminum. Many consider this the simplest type of welding to learn. Many employers will require welders to know this type of welding.
This is one of the more complex welding types to learn. It uses tungsten inert gas to create fusions that are considered more high-quality than others. This welding type often requires higher-level education, training or certifications.
Hyperbaric welding can be conducted in a dry environment, but the same method can be used when welding underwater. Workers who learn this specific type of welding can work on ships, pipelines and oil platforms.
Steel melts from this type of welding using acetylene gas and oxygen. It can be used for maintenance or cutting of various metal types.
Are welding careers in high demand?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, welding careers should grow approximately 3% over the next 10 years. As various infrastructures change and develop, welders will be needed to repair or build various highways, buildings or bridges. This means pursuing a position as a welder can provide you with a stable career.
How can welders earn more than the average salary?
There are many opportunities to advance in a welding career. Many welders will receive the recommended amount of education needed for a specific career and may return to school to earn more education. This can allow them to gain more certifications to pursue careers with more advanced qualifications, which often results in higher pay.
Welders also have the option to attend a four-year institution to receive a Bachelor's Degree in Welding, which can qualify them to receive positions in leadership or jobs with higher skillsets.
What skills are needed to become a welder?
Here are the skills most successful welders have:
- Strong attention to detail
- Basic welding and metal terminology
- Knowledge of welding safety procedures and requirements
- Impressive endurance and dexterity
- Effective hand-eye coordination
- Time-management skills
- Organizational skills when storing and locating welding tools
- Experience with complex welding torches and tools