Welders are an essential part of the production life cycle of just about anything made of metal. Automobiles, large industrial equipment, bridges, municipal utility systems and most other essential aspects of modern life require the work of good welders to make them safe and useful.
Graduates of welding schools in Texas can apply their skills directly in the manufacturing or construction industries or move into a support role, such as welding inspection or equipment maintenance and service. With job growth in the Lone Star State expected to far surpass the growth in most of the rest of the country, the career outlook for professional welders in Texas is strong.
Not all welds are created equal, and welding schools in Texas can usually help you pick up the basics of multiple welding systems or specialize your study in a few key areas. Typically, a general welding certification may be sufficient for apprentices, assistants and beginning welders. However, when you become more proficient, advanced practitioners in the field may elect to earn certification in one of these or other specialized areas:
- Welding processes
- Welding metallurgy
- Welding design
- Steel structures welding
- Non-destructive evaluation
- Plastic and composite joining
These specialties may contain more advanced theory or scientific concepts than are typically necessary for welding practitioners on the ground, but they can help bring some fresh challenges to a veteran welding career.
Welding certification and degree programs
Welding is a highly technical profession, and the standard curriculum of welding schools in Texas tends to give due attention to each of the various common techniques and materials. Individual practical elements of welding are typically given their own dedicated courses on the schedule, and some programs provide entire certification paths for students looking to dive deep into one particular aspect.
Preparation for a welding education can start as early as high school, with metal shop, physics and mechanical drafting classes, but even those who don't prepare can get comprehensive education at the vocational level. Here's a list of some of the subjects you can expect to study on your way through welding schools in Texas:
- Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
- Gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
- Flux core arc welding (FCAW)
- Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)
- Welding safety
- Blueprint reading
- Pipe welding
- Multiple process welding
Metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding are covered as subsets of GMAW and GTAW in most programs, taught alongside their active-gas counterparts. Depending on the school and the program, welding school may culminate in an associate degree, vocational certificate, career diploma or another credential.
Welding is counted among the shrinking number of vocational paths where on-the-job education is still considered an effective substitute for dedicated formal education, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employers are becoming increasingly interested in hiring graduates of certification or credentialing programs for even entry-level positions.
Professional certifications, such as the Certified Welder and Certified Welding Fabricator credentials maintained by the American Welding Society, may help aspiring welders in the job search but are seldom listed as requirements for employment. Texas welders applying to work on structural steel connections, however, must have a Steel Structures Welding certification to be employed legally.
Welding salary and career information
Although the BLS reports that employment of welders is projected to grow just 6 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022, the Texas Workforce Commission paints a more encouraging picture for welders in the Lone Star State. Thanks to its status as a cornerstone of the U.S. oil industry and a number of new urban construction and infrastructure projects, Texas welding jobs are projected to increase by 21 percent over the next several years and add around 21,500 new jobs to the field by 2022.
Job gains are expected to be greatest in areas with growing populations, such as Austin-Round Rock and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, or in regions with strong manufacturing or petrochemical industries.
The highest salaries in the U.S. for skilled welders can be found outside of the lower 48 states -- welders in Anchorage, AK, earned a mean salary of $68,830 in 2013, according to the BLS, while welders in Honolulu took home $65,580 on average -- but average salaries well above the national mean of $39,110 can be found in some Texas cities. The BLS reports 2013 mean salary figures of $48,310 and $48,410 for welders in Odessa and College Station, respectively.
Welding is one of the most essential skills of the machine age, and those with the drive and the know-how can make a solid living at it. If a career in welding sounds like the right fit for you, look into a few of the welding schools in Texas and find out if you'll be able to commit the time and resources necessary to invest in your future. The right education at the right time might just give your career the boost you've been waiting for.
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