It's hard to imagine what type of construction could exist without welding. After all, welding is the most common way to join together metal parts, and metal is one of the strongest materials currently in use. If you want to learn the trade, welding schools in Missouri could be the best place to start.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the state of Missouri is home to 28 schools that offer programs in welding and welding technology. Signing up for any of these programs could prepare you for a number of different careers related to metalwork, manufacturing or construction. Whichever path you choose, welding schools in Missouri can prepare you for the challenge. But before you get started, it's important to learn more about the various careers in this field and what they entail.
As the BLS notes, welding uses heat to create a permanent bond between metal pieces. Because of the prevalence of metal as a building material, welders are needed in a wide range of industries. Many welders choose to specialize in a certain skill or range of skills. The BLS reports the following welding specializations as the most common:
- Welders use up to 100 different welding methods to join different types of metal together for a variety of purposes. The most common form of welding they use today is arc welding. However different projects and materials require different strategies and different welding methods.
- Cutters use their expertise and skill to cut metal pieces to exact dimensions for construction. They also use their skills to dismantle large metal objects for any number of purposes.
- Solderers use low heat metal fillers to join one or more pieces of metal together. These workers often use their skills to join small metal pieces that require exact precision, such as circuit boards or computer chips.
- Brazers use metals at a high melting point to join one or more pieces of metal together. This method is commonly used on thinner types of metal that would resist traditional welding methods. Brazing is also used to add protective coatings to metal and other materials.
As you learn more about the craft, you will find that there are countless processes that a welder can use. Some welders end up specializing in a certain method, such as arc welding or MIG welding, depending on the type of metal they're working with.
Welding certifications and degrees
According to the BLS, there are many paths one can take to begin a career in welding. However, most require some form of technical training and some extended on-the-job training.
In most cases, welders begin their studies by pursuing welding programs at technical schools, community colleges, or trade schools. These programs can last anywhere from several weeks to a few years, and usually culminate in an internship or some form of on-the-job training. Although specific prerequisites aren't always required, the BLS suggests some of the following courses to be most helpful to entry-level welders:
- Blueprint reading
- Shop mathematics
Some welders choose to become certified. Although different certifications are available, the most popular certifications include the Certified Welder and Certified Welding Fabricator designations from the American Welding Society. Those who want to specialize in a certain segment of their profession often get specialized certifications. Some common examples include Certified Welding Inspector or Certified Robotic Arc Welding.
Welding salary and career outlook
According to U.S. Department of Labor figures, employment for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers is expected to increase 5.3 percent in Missouri during the decade leading up to 2022. That figure is on par with the job growth the BLS predicts nationally during the same timeframe. For welding, soldering and brazing machine setters, operators and tenders, the job growth is an even more promising 20.5% statewide. The BLS also reports healthy wages for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in Missouri; according to the most recent data, the annual mean wage for these workers was $35,590 in 2013, or $17.11 an hour.
Although welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers are spread all over the state of Missouri, the following regions employed more than their share in relation to their population in 2013:
- St. Louis, MO-IL: 2,080
- Kansas City, MO-KS: 1,480
- Central Missouri nonmetropolitan area: 970
Since metal is an essential component of both construction and manufacturing, qualified welders will always be in demand. If you want to get in on the ground floor of this growing industry, all you have to do is research welding schools in Missouri and find the program that is right for you.
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MO&p=15.0614+48.0508
- Long-Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- Missouri, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm#51-0000
- Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm#tab-6
- Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes514121.htm