How to Become a Certified Welder: The Ultimate Guide & Step-by-Step Instructions

Becoming a welder opens a wide career path for you.

Welders create, design, and build everything.

Welders may be employed in the automobile industry, shipbuilding, building construction, or any other type manufacturing career.

They use their knowledge and skill to bond metals together and ensure they meet certain criteria for strength and durability.

Welders are highly knowledgeable and skilled tradesmen.

There are on-the-job pathways as well as education pathways that lead to a successful career as a welder.

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Job Description: What Does a Welder Do

A welder is a trained, skilled tradesman who specializes in joining metals.

They may work with brass, steel, stainless steel, or aluminum.

Welders have varied employment opportunities.

They may work in shipyards, manufacturing, building construction, the automobile industry, and even crafting.

Welders have a part in building aircraft and bridges as well.

Because people depend on the goods and products the welders produce, they must produce goods that are strong and stable.

The accuracy and dependability of a welder’s work is essential to public safety.

Duties

  • Properly positioning, securing, and restraining metal and metals parts with clips or clamps
  • Lighting flame sources
  • Using the flame in the welding area
  • Carefully controlling and monitoring the flame and the materials being welded to ensure that the proper temperature is maintained
  • Evaluating the final weld to ensure that it is properly completed and safe to use
  • Maintaining the welding equipment by cleaning it after use and storing it

Certified Welder Salary: How Much Does It Pay

The average salary for a welder is $40,970 per year.

This hourly average wage it $19.70 per hour.

Welders who have earned higher certifications and have years of experience may earn up to $47,919.

Average National Salary: $38,353

$28K
10%
$33K
25%
$38K
50%
$44K
75%
$49K
90%
*Salary information last updated 2018

Average Annual Salary by State

State Avg. Annual Salary
Alabama $36,397
Alaska $43,569
Arizona $38,008
Arkansas $35,476
California $43,070
Colorado $38,775
Connecticut $41,344
Delaware $40,884
Florida $37,202
Georgia $37,778
Hawaii $40,002
Idaho $36,397
Illinois $40,654
Indiana $37,471
Iowa $37,049
Kansas $36,934
Kentucky $36,359
Louisiana $38,084
Maine $38,736
Maryland $39,350
Massachusetts $43,646
Michigan $39,503
Minnesota $40,922
Mississippi $34,134
Missouri $37,739
Montana $36,512
Nebraska $36,282
Nevada $39,694
New Hampshire $40,501
New Jersey $43,799
New Mexico $35,822
New York $46,062
North Carolina $37,586
North Dakota $35,783
Ohio $38,238
Oklahoma $36,435
Oregon $40,270
Pennsylvania $41,268
Rhode Island $40,616
South Carolina $36,205
South Dakota $33,751
Tennessee $35,553
Texas $38,813
Utah $36,359
Vermont $37,851
Virginia $38,468
Washington $41,958
West Virginia $34,978
Wisconsin $38,161
Wyoming $34,901

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Certified Welder

Step 1Earn a High School Diploma

In order to become a welder, a high school education is essential.

Tradesmen must be well educated.

A high school diploma is essential to a person’s success as a welder.

Many high schools offer courses in welding and metal fabrication.

A student who aspires to become a welder should take every course that is offered in order to learn basic welding skills and gain some hands-on experience.

These courses will provide a basic foundation for future study and will provide an opportunity for students to be sure they want to pursue a career in welding.

Because welders are always measuring and calculating, algebra and geometry classes will be beneficial.

Also, science courses will provide a better understanding of how welding really works.

Step 2Get a Certificate or Degree in Welding

Students can participate in a Welding Certificate Program that lasts from six to eighteen months.

The required courses are usually taught as face-to-face classes as there are many practical applications.

The cost of welding certificate programs varies widely.

They may cost as little as $3,500 or as much as $20,000.

To determine which school and program fits the student’s need, you will need to contact the school or university for more information.

Students wanting a higher degree can complete the coursework for a Welding Technology Associate’s Degree.

This program lasts for two years and is mostly face-to-face courses.

The cost of the Associate’s Degree ranges from $6,000 to $55,000.

Beyond the Associate’s Degree is the Welding Engineering Bachelor’s Degree program.

This program lasts for four years.

Step 3Participate in an Apprenticeship

A welding apprenticeship is a great way to gain knowledge about welding as a career.

When working as an apprentice, the welder gets experience about best work practices as well as hands-on welding experience.

An apprenticeship can be a great way to start earning some money as a welder and to get a start with a company.

Apprenticeships help the welder build practical experience.

This knowledge and work experience is a great foundation which can be improved on over time.

Step 4Earn a Welding Certification

The welding certifications validate your knowledge and skill level to a potential employer.

Most welding certifications are earned through the American Welding Society (AWS).

The certifications available include:

  • Certified Welder (CW)
    • There are no requirements for taking this examination.
    • The cost is $35.
    • The examination must be taken at an AWS Accredited Testing Facility
  • Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)
    • The requirements for taking this test may be met in many different ways.
      • They include a level of education in addition to a period of work experience.
    • The cost is $850 or a member and $1,065 for a non-member.
  • Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI)
    • The requirements for taking this test may be met in many different ways.
      • They include a level of education in addition to a period of work experience.
    • The cost is $850 or a member and $1,065 for a non-member.
  • Certified Welding Educator (CWE)
    • The requirements for this certification include:
      • Completing the Certified Welding Educator (CWE) application
      • Hold a full-time or part-time job as a classroom teacher
      • Hold a valid welding certification
      • Present a letter of recommendation supporting your ability and qualification to teach.
    • The cost is $635 (member) and $850 (non-member)
  • Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR)
    • The requirements for taking this test may be met in many different ways.
    • The cost is $275 (member) and $355 (non-member)

Welding Education & Requirements

Completion of a Welding Certificate Program requires six to eighteen months.

Courses cover welding basics and will equip the student with the knowledge and skill needed to start working upon completion.

Participants learn how to use welding equipment safely, read blueprints, and complete work orders.

In addition to welding skills, students learn to work with others as a team and proper protocol for working as a welder.

The next step is earning and Associate’s Degree in welding.

This is a two-year program that further enhances a student’s skills and knowledge.

Students who have earned as Associate’s Degree have had opportunities to enhance their welding skills and have learned how to work as a professional.

Employment opportunities for a welder with an Associate’s Degree is vast.

Earning the degree insures that they are a knowledgeable welder and ready to be a part of a team.

Some welders go to a college or university for four years and earn a bachelor’s degree.

With this level of education, welders have outstanding welding skills and can perform their job duties in the most professional way.

Welders with a bachelor’s degree earn the highest income.

Video About The Career


Certification & Licensing

The standard, commonly accepted welding certifications are offered through the American Welding Society (AWS).

These tests assess the welder’s knowledge about safety as well as the welding process itself.

The AWS certification requires the participant to take a written exam and a test of welding skill.

These certifications require that the holder renew them every six months to a year.

Obtaining an AWS certification is a great way to increase earning and employment opportunities.

Currently, AWS offers several certification categories:

  • Certified Welding Inspector
  • Certified Associate Welding Inspector
  • Senior Certified Welding Inspector
  • Certified Welding Educator
  • Certified Radiographic Interpreter
  • Certified Welding Supervisor
  • Certified Welding Sales Representative
  • Certified Welding Engineer
  • Certified Welder
  • Certified Robotic Arc Welding

Certification Example:

Welding Certification

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

Training programs and education pathways for welders can last from six months to four years.

When the welder spends only six months in training, they usually earn a certificate only.

However, a welder who follows the four-year pathway will earn a Bachelor’s degree.

Popular Degree Programs


Job Outlook & Growth for Welding

The job outlook for welders is good.

An estimated 6% increase in jobs for welders should occur within the next several years.

Newly qualified welders will face a job market that is full of opportunities.

When you consider that structures are constantly aging and deteriorating, the need for welders to maintain, repair, and even rebuild will keep the demand strong.

A welder’s job security is strong; however, there may be a need to alter the type of employment or relocate.

Welding is a site-based occupation so it may be necessary to relocate to the job site.

Employment Growth Projection: 6%

404,800
2016
427,300
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 22,500 jobs.

Certified Welder: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Welder?
(Data-Driven Review)

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

A welder’s job is very satisfying.
Most jobs involve creating something whether it be a building, a bridge, a car, or maybe even a craft item.
The welder who worked on the project will certainly be proud of the completed product.
Welding requires skill, technique, and some creativity.
Most welders say they are proud of completed projects that they worked on.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

Welders make an average salary of $40,970 per year.
This equals $19.70 per hour.
Higher certifications and experience allow the welder to earn an even higher salary.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: Medium

Statistics show that welding is expected to grow by as much as 26 percent in the near future.
This potential for growth proves that welding is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S.
Since welders are used in many different industries, employment is almost always high.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

An individual can become a welder if they have a high school diploma.
In order to learn the skill of welding, the person will need to complete an apprenticeship.
Most welders at least participate in a six month certificate program to earn some entry-level credentials.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

  • Enjoys working with their hands to create things
  • Manual dexterity and steadfast hands
  • Physically fit
  • Pays attention to detail
  • Good depth perception and spatial orientation
  • Excellent vision with good hand-eye coordination
  • Good communication skills to listen to instructions and requests and ask the right questions to ensure the finished product is what the customer wants
  • Adept at solving problems


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What Is the Highest Paid Welding Job?

The highest paid welder is a pipe welder.

Pipe welders comprise about 4% of all welding jobs.

They earn an average salary of $58,998.

Pipe welders repair and weld pipes in many industries.

These welders may be employed in the automobile industry, construction, shipbuilding, and other industries.

Q. Is Welding in Demand?

Statistics show that welding is expected to grow by as much as 26 percent in the near future.

This potential for growth proves that welding is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S.

Since welders are used in many different industries, employment is almost always high.

Q. What State Has the Best Welding Jobs?

Most welding jobs are located in Texas.

In fact, because there are so many welding jobs there, it is often called the welding jobs capital of the U.S.

The employment rate for welders in Texas is very high.

The rate of pay here is above the average.

Q. How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Welder?

An individual can become a welder if they have a high school diploma.

In order to learn the skill of welding, the person will need to complete an apprenticeship.

Most welders at least participate in a six month certificate program to earn some entry-level credentials.

Q. Do Welders Get Good Benefits?

A steady paycheck is one of the main benefits received by a welder.

Welding is a high-demand occupation so employment will be steady.

If a welder is an employee of a business or industry, they will be entitled to health coverage and perhaps even a pension or retirement plan.

They may earn paid time off or vacation time as a job benefit.

Finally, when a welder works at a business, there is usually a stated path for career advancement.


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