Whenever a large building is going up, there will be areas of the construction site where sparks are flying. These are the welders at work, joining pieces of metal into strong joints. Welding trade schools and welding vocational schools may offer training in soldering, metal cutting and brazing. Welders may find career opportunities in building everything from high-rise buildings to computer chips.
Vocational welding school focus
Welders, solderers, cutters and brazers find work in shipbuilding, auto manufacturing, bridge building and pipeline projects. Vocational welding school graduates can learn:
- to solder tiny objects like an electronic circuit board
- how to cut steel to dismantle ships or railroad cars
- to apply coatings that reduce wear and corrosion on metals
The value of certification
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), some employers prefer to hire welders who have graduated from welding trade schools because these students have had the opportunity to learn the math, drawing, physics, chemistry and metallurgy needed to weld properly.
Welding training can start in high school, and formal training at welding vocational schools can take as little as a few months to several years. Some schools also provide graduates the opportunity to take a skill test that can qualify them as an American Welding Society certified welder. AWS also offers a certified welding fabricator designation.
There are also certifications for specific skills, including certified welding inspector and certified robotic arc welding. After several years as an inspector, you can apply to become a senior certified welding inspector, a designation that tells potential employers that you are not only a skilled welder but can train others and ensure quality work.
Welder salary and job outlook
According to the BLS, welding jobs should grow by 6 percent from 2012-2022, adding 20,800 jobs throughout the country. The national median annual wage for welders, cutters, brazers and solderers was $36,720 as of May 2013. National median annual pay for welders varies by industry and job type, as illustrated by the 2012 figures below from O*NET OnLine (onetonline.org).
- Fabricator, finishing technician, fitter-welder, spot welder. $34,720
- Maintenance welder, mig welder, sub arc operator. $36,300
- Soldiers and braziers. $36,300
- Sheet metal worker. $43,290
The highest paying jobs for welders are Alaska and Hawaii, while the highest concentration of jobs is in Wyoming, Louisiana and North Dakota. As long as construction and rebuilding takes place, welders with the right combination of knowledge and experience may be valued regardless of where they are located.
American Welding Society, http://www.aws.org/w/a/certification/CWI/
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes514121.htm#nat
Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers, Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm
National Welder Certification, Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, http://www.welding.org/p-191-aws-qc7-national-welder-certification.aspx