What Qualification Is Needed to Become a Welder?

Welders are metal joiners who must be proficient with tools and machinery. Read on to learn about the qualifications for a career in welding and what you might earn in this field. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Qualifications for Welders

To work as a welder, you'll typically need to undergo specialized training at a high school, vocational school or community college. You might also be able to enroll in an apprenticeship or internship program. Another route is to join the U.S. Armed Forces and complete its training program. In some cases, you may be hired by an employer and receive training on the job.

If you're pursuing postsecondary education, you can enroll in an associate's degree program in welding technology or a certificate of completion in welding. During these programs, you'll complete courses on physics, chemistry, blueprint reading, shop mathematics and mechanical drawing. A great deal of hands-on experience is required during a welding program, since you'll need to become familiar with the tools used in this career. You'll also need to practice welding with different types of metals and varying sizes of materials.

Welder Defined

As a welder, your exact career duties can vary depending on the industry in which you're employed. Most employers require you to be familiar with arc welding. This technique bonds metals together with heat by using electrical currents. In some cases, you might oversee machines capable of automated welding. In these scenarios, you'll program the machines and ensure that they're performing the welding tasks correctly.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

As of May 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean annual wage for welders was $39,110 (www.bls.gov). The top-paying state for welders was Alaska, which offered a yearly mean income of $68,750 that same year. If you're interested in entering the top-paying industry for welding, then you might want to be employed in the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry. This industry employed 1,150 workers in 2013, and these professionals received an annual mean salary of $66,550.

The BLS projected that welding positions were expected to grow only six percent from 2012-2022. Despite this slow growth, job opportunities should be favorable if you've been properly trained. Welding skills can also transfer across multiple industries, including the automotive, agricultural and oil industries, so if you're unable to find work with one company, you can apply for jobs in a new field.

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