How to Become a Welder
Welders work on boats, buildings, and automotive factories, to name a few places. You will never have to worry about being unemployed if you have this critical skill.
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1.5 Years

The Definitive Guide to Becoming a Welder

Anyone who has ever seen “Flashdance” has wondered if the life and salary of a professional fuser are really as intriguing and lucrative as that film made it out to be. Although it may not be as glamorous as the film would suggest, welders are well paid and in demand.

You can become a welder via on-the-job training. There are also training courses that you can take to learn how to become a welder. Most companies want to hire a person with some formal training. Welding can be dangerous, and a formal training program will include instructions on safety. Manufacturing companies like this for legal reasons. There are a few steps you can take to become a welder.

Job Description for a Welder

Welders fuse metal together by using heat. The job requires a steady hand and a keen level of concentration. A welder needs good eyesight as well. This is not a job a person can do when they are under the influence of anything.

There are legitimate medications that you may not be able to take if you are going to do this intrinsic work. You may have to work outside or in a factory where you will be on your feet most of the day.

Welders work on boats, buildings, and automotive factories, to name a few places. You will never have to worry about being unemployed if you have this critical skill.

A Day in the Life of a Welder

When you are a welder, you will start your day by suiting up in an outfit that has been deemed safe for working with flames. This will include a visor and protective clothing. You will then read any blueprints needed for that day's work. In some cases, you will make the parts that you use before you begin your work.

Once you know what people expect of you, you will ready the materials you will need for that day's work. Once you start that welding, you will have to ensure that your flam stays at the right temperature for whatever it is you are welding. You will have to keep checking throughout the shift. You will then clean your equipment and store it to be ready for your next day of work.

You will have a supervisor who will check out your work every day. A welding inspector will also come around to your company periodically to make sure that you are doing everything according to OSHA safety regulations.

Different Types of Welding Processes

Regulations and techniques change in the steel industry just as they change in every other profession. There are four basic types of welding processes.

  1. Gas Metal Arc Welding/Metal Inert Gas

This process employs a thin wire as an electrode. The wire gets hot when fed through the welder's tools and moves towards the welding site. A shield protects workers and materials from any toxins that might be in the air.

It works with many different types of metal. It is a popular method for auto manufacturers and construction workers alike. It is considered one of the easiest processes to do.

  1. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding/ Tungsten Inert Gas

If you have very thin pieces of metal to weld together, you will use this method. It gets used for metals that do not contain iron, such as copper and aluminum. This uses a tungsten electrode to produce the weld. It requires an external gas supply to work. It is considered the highest quality type of weld because of its strength. It takes some time to learn how to make this type of weld.

  1. Shielded Metal Arc Welding/ Stick Welding

A manual technique that uses a consumable electrode coated in flux gets used for this process. People normally use it for home welding, and it is unlikely that you will use it at work. The electrode is stick-shaped. It is a cheap form of welding that can be used on rusted metal and requires very little equipment. You will not even need to use a shielding gas.

  1. Flux Cored Arc Welding

This method also uses a continuous wire feed process. In some cases, it uses a self-shielding agent, and in other cases, it uses shielding gas. It can be safely used outside because the wind will not affect the weld. This will typically be the first type of welding you will learn, and it is the easiest to do. When you get your first job, they will probably have you use this method until you are ready to advance.

Will I Work Inside or Outside?

Now that you know a bit more about welding itself, you probably want to know how to become a welder. The first thing you should do is figure out where you want to do your job.

There are many different kinds of metals and even more types of jobs that a welder can do.

The training required for each type of welding can vary, and this is why it is essential to figure out which kind of welding you would like to do before you enter a training program. You should decide if you want to work indoors or outdoors. You should ask yourself if you want to do seasonal work or if you prefer to weld all year long.

Certain types of welding are more physically demanding than other types of welding. When you decide what kind of welding you want to do, you should look up the type of process you will need to learn and the type of certification required for the job.

Get Some Training

Any job requires training, and welding is no exception. Some welding programs will award you an associate's degree in welding engineering, and others will simply give you a certificate. These programs can last anywhere from six months to a year and a half. Most programs will require a GED or high school diploma to enroll.

You will be required to update your certification from time to time. You must take classes and tests throughout your career.

A training program will involve both classroom training and on-the-job training. You will learn in a classroom, work in a laboratory, and get real-world experience when you are in school. Your instructors will be certified welders with years of experience in their field.

Typically, an Associate’s degree program will offer you more comprehensive training than a simple certification program. Most companies would prefer to hire someone with a degree than someone who simply has a certificate.

In addition to teaching welding, these programs will also teach you pipe fitting. Pipefitters assemble, install, create, and maintain mechanical pipes. A side benefit of receiving training in welding is that you will also get training in pipe fitting. Although welding work is almost never low, it never hurts to have an extra skill to offer potential employers.

The Classes you will Take

The exact classes you will take will depend upon your individual course of study. However, any good trade school will offer certain core classes to its welding students.


Contrary to popular belief, welding requires scientific knowledge. Metallurgy is the study of various metals. You will learn how to analyze metals structurally. This can help you understand things such as the pliability of certain metals and the best metals to use in various construction jobs.

Blueprint Reading

A welder has to know how to read a blueprint so they can know what kind of weld to make. When you take blueprint reading, you will learn how to define various scales used on drawings. You will understand the dimensions used in a blueprint.

You will learn the basics of blueprint drawing so you can understand how the details of an object are shown. Engineers and architects use various symbols in their blueprints, and you need special training to understand them. You will learn these symbols and the vocabulary of constructions in class.

Computer-Aided Design and  Drafting

CADD is simply an automated method of drawing. It enables designers to be more productive and accurate. It can also help engineers analyze how well a design will work. It can help welders understand what kind of weld would be best in a specific situation.

Structural Design

A structural welder is critical to the building of bridges, roads, and buildings. They cut and repair beams, and they work in the mining industry. This kind of welder will work primarily with steel. They work in the field and in a workshop. If you learn this kind of welding, you will have your choice of the kind of projects on which you can work.

Nondestructive Testing

Whenever you build anything, you want to test it to make sure that it works. If you weld two pieces of metal together, you want to make sure they will function properly in whatever it is you are building. However, you do not want to destroy the entire structure when you test what you have built. Nondestructive testing will teach you how to make sure your weld works without harming anyone else’s work.

Gain Hands-on Experience

One essential thing any school can offer is the opportunity to have an internship or an apprenticeship. You will gain experience in the many different types of welding you learn in school when you have your apprenticeship.  It will give you the chance to ask questions and observe challenges that come up in the course of an average day of work. An apprenticeship can lead to permanent employment.

You will get the entry-level experience you need to get welding certification. Every hour you complete during your apprenticeship will help build your resume. If you were to start as an apprentice without ever going to school, it would take several years to become a journeyman. The process is much faster when you have formal training,

Welder’s Certification

When a welder makes a mistake on a job, there can be severe consequences. Hence, the government, auto manufacturers, and construction companies alike insist that welders are certified in their craft.

The  American Welding Society (AWS) has a certification program to test welding skills. This certification will let employers know that you have the necessary training, knowledge, and skills to do your job.

There are many different certifications that AWS offers. You can be certified as a welder, inspector, or senior inspector. If you are already a welder, they offer accreditation for instructors. If you are interested in the sales end of the welding business, they have a certification program for that as well.

Finding a Job

When you start to look for a job, you will want to use very narrow search terms on Google. There are so many different types of welding that it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Take the job environment into consideration before you send in your application. Welding can be hazardous, and some jobs require more agility than others.

In addition to looking for jobs on the internet, your school's employment placement office should be able to help you find a job.

Once you have your welding degree, there are a few different job titles you can search for.


The first job title you will search for is “welder.”  An entry-level job may be listed under the title “wire feed welder.” You can use your welding skills in many different fields. Be sure to search for a job in a few other industries such as:

  • Aircraft
  • Automobiles
  • Heavy Machinery
  • Auto manufacturing
  • Construction

Welding Supervisor/Engineer

The great thing about getting a formal education in any field is that it often lets you skip a step. You are more likely to get a supervisory job with less practical experience when you have a degree. You will have a lot of responsibility, but you will also have a higher salary. Your role will entail more variety than simply making welds all day.

Welding Instructor

If you love to share what you know with other people, you may want to consider being an instructor. Once you have a few years of experience under your belt, you can take a course or two and take the  Certified Welding Instructor (CWI) certification examination.

If you have been working as a welder for a while, this is the perfect job to have in midlife. You will spend all day teaching people what you know, but it is not as physically demanding as welding.

Welding Inspectors

If you have a naturally critical eye, you may want to consider becoming a welding inspector. You will need special training for this because there are specific tests that you must perform. After a few years of experience, you will know what a perfect weld looks like.

You will also have to ensure that your welders are OSHA compliant and always dressed in the proper equipment. You must report any safety violations you see when you are on a job site to the company management and the proper governmental authorities.

Salary of a Welder

You have probably heard that welders make good money. As of May 2020, the median salary for a welder was $44,190 per year and $21.25 per hour. There are over 418,200  welding jobs in the United States.

Inspectors and supervisors make more, and so do instructors. As with any job, your salary will increase as you gain experience.


There are a few questions that people tend to have when they are considering becoming a welder.

Q: What does the future hold? Will there be job growth?

A: The future looks bright for welders. The Bureau of Labor statistics foresees growth of about 8% in the coming year.

Q: Which welders make the best money?

A: Pipefitters make pretty good money, and so do aerospace welders. If you don’t mind getting a little bit wet, underwater welders are among the craft's highest-paid practitioners.

Q: How can a Welder get to the next level?

A: Figuring out which type of welding you would like to practice may help you get to the next level. If your goal is to be a supervisor, you may want to go into construction. There are plenty of construction sites out there, and they all need supervisors.

Q: Is welding a stressful job?

A: Welding can be very stressful. You will often work outdoors under hazardous conditions, which can cause stress. Precision is a must for a welder. If you do not weld something correctly, it can cause injuries.

Q: Do I have to be in good shape to be a welder?

A: Absolutely, welding is hard on your eyes, hands, and wrists. You may have to hold yourself in a certain position for a long period of time to become a welder. This is why it is always a good idea to consider teaching or supervising after you have a few years of experience.

With the right training, welding can be a great profession. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of looking at a building, airplane, or bridge and knowing that you are part of the reason it is there.