Learn About Being a Welder

Updated January 26, 2023

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What does a welder do?

A welder joins metal parts using a tool that generates intense heat. A welder can also polish and smooth out metal surfaces they weld together. They will use either a computer to remotely control equipment or hand-held equipment to cut or join metal parts, fill a hole or fix seams in metal. A welder must be able to: 

  • Study blueprints and calculate the dimensions of the metal they need to weld

  • Inspect materials or structures before welding

  • Monitor the metal to ensure it doesn’t overheat

  • Maintain the equipment they are working with

  • Control and monitor the flame and materials 

  • Work in various positions to conjoin pieces of infrastructure

Average salary

Welders are typically full-time employees who work with one company. Some welders can find part-time or contract work. Salaries can vary depending on the size, type and geographical location of the company. Experience, education and type of welding can also affect salary. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $20.80 per hour

  • Some salaries range from $8.30 to $44.60 per hour.

Welder requirements

Welders need a combination of education, training and certifications to develop the skills needed to be successful in the role.


To become a welder, you will need to have a minimum of a GED or high school diploma and, at that point, you can complete a welding certificate program. These programs could last from six to eighteen months. Techniques and methods that classes will teach could include brazing, soldering, welding, bronzing and casting. Arc welding with shielded metal, gas tungsten, or gas metal could all be part of a welding program as well. 

Some welders choose to undergo an apprenticeship program to learn welding techniques while earning pay. During an apprenticeship, a student will receive in-depth welding training in one to three years. Apprenticeships also offer students the opportunity to work toward a welding certification. 

Those interested in becoming a welder can also earn an Associate of Science in welding engineering technology. During this two-year degree program, students will learn higher-level skills and gain more knowledge than they might in a certification program. They may also learn about different welding specialties, such as nuclear power, military and pipelines. 


Most training that a welder receives is during a certification or educational program. During these programs, they will learn all of the necessary techniques and tools used to complete welding duties. They will also receive instruction on safety protocols, which is important for welders who work in a hazardous environment. 

When welders begin working for a company, they will receive on-the-job training, which will include learning more about specific safety measures and procedures. Welders may also learn about any specific processes and techniques the company uses.


Types of popular welding certificates include:

  • Certified Welder (CW): There are no minimum requirements for this certification. 

  • Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): To obtain a CWI certificate, you will need to have qualifying work experience, education and a valid vision test.  

  • Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI): You will need to hold a valid CWI certificate for a minimum of six years before testing, have at least 15 years of experience and be in a managerial or supervisory role.

  • Certified Welding Educator (CWE): The certification has the same requirements as the CWI. If you have a CWI, you automatically qualify for a CWE by filling out the application; be a current teacher; have a valid/current certificate; obtain a written recommendation advocating your teaching abilities.

  • Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR): You will need five years of experience in a welding sales field or two years and a training certificate to qualify. 

  • Certified Associate Welding Inspector (CAWI): You will need to pass a vision test and have minimum work experience plus education to be eligible for this certification.

  • Certified Radiographic Interpreter (CRI): You will need a minimum of a GED or diploma; 40 hours of radiographic training; a vision test; and at least one year of experience as a radiographic interpreter or working for one.

  • Certified Robotic Arc Welding (CRAW): You need a valid GED, diploma, or military education; at least six months as a manual or semiautomatic arc welder; at least 12 months as operator or 18 months as arc welding technician; at least three years as an operator or five years as a technician welding with robotics; an active CWI certification; or a combination of education plus experience.

  • Certified Welding Supervisor (CWS): The same requirements as a CWI plus an active CW.

  • Certified Welding Engineer (CWE): This four-part exam tests your knowledge of codes, standards, and other aspects of metal fabrication. You will need a valid CW.


As a welder, you could create or work on a bridge, building, car, underground pipe or something else entirely. Some skills you may need include: 

  • Physically fit 

  • Attention to detail 

  • Good spatial orientation 

  • Manual dexterity 

  • Enjoy working with your hands 

  • Excellent vision 

  • Good communication  

  • Problem-solving ability

  • Blueprint reading 

  • Shop mechanics

Welder work environment

Welding is a strenuous and physical job, and overtime is common in this field. Common requirements for the uniform of a welder include:

  • Protective clothing

  • Eyewear

  • Safety shoes

  • A hood or helmet

A welder will work in a well-ventilated area and could be outdoors, underwater, in a factory or a special facility. Depending on the welder’s career specialization, their work environment and schedule could vary. Most welders work under the guidance of a supervisor.

How to become a welder

Here is a general guideline on how to become a welder:

1. Education

You should explore the job postings in your geographic area to see what level of education is required to become a welder. At a minimum, most positions will require a GED and some form of certification, while others may require an associate degree. Many technical schools and vocational schools offer programs that provide students with both hands-on training and the certifications required.

2. Work experience

If you decide to go the school route, try to find a technical college or vocational school that offers hands-on experience. Many students find that internships and apprenticeships are the most effective way to earn both a welding education and real-world work experience.

3. Technical certifications

Depending on what is required for area employers, you will need at least one, if not multiple, of the certifications listed in the Certification section above. The minimum requirement for most employers is the CW certificate available from the American Welding Society.

4. Resume

Technical certifications and relevant work history should to be highlighted on your resume. Make sure your certification is in good standing and include the date that it is up for renewal. Your work experience should include the employer and what tasks you undertook during that period of time. A well laid-out resume will help you find a suitable welding job for you.

5. Applications

Depending on your level of experience, your application needs to be tailored for your geographical location. Use filters, like those available on Indeed, to narrow down companies who have requirements that fit your education and experience level.

Welder job description example

Sage Marine, a specialty division of Sage Materials, is seeking qualified applications for multiple Welder positions at our barge and platform construction facility. Welder responsibilities could include welding, cutting, fabricating, grinding, layout work, overhead crane, fitting, forklift operations and other hands-on fabrication work. You may be required to work in vertical, horizontal or overhead positions.

Requirements include a valid CW certificate, a minimum of five years of experience, experience with air arc gougers and experience with an oxygen cutting torch. You will need to be able to read and understand blueprints and to read a tape measure. Preference for overhead crane operation experience, and the ability to work well with a team. 

This is a full-time job with benefits.

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