How to Become a Welder
If you’re thinking of becoming a professional welder, there are a few different roads you can take to achieve your goal. Given the fact that welding is a profession that is very unlikely to be replaced completely by technology and that welding can be a way to make a decent living, this is a career worth pursuing if you feel you have a passion for it.
Naturally, formal training programs are a great way to learn or refine welding skills. Many larger communities have schools dedicated to training aspiring welders. Additionally, many community colleges and vocational or technical schools also offer excellent opportunities for those anxious to learn this craft. A good formal program will include “book learning” along with plenty of hands-on time. The cost of such programs will vary based on the type, scope, and length of the program. If you’re concerned that you might not be able to afford formal training, be sure to look into the various financial aid and tuition assistance programs available from many institutions. Such financial aid might include loans or grants. Education and training from an established school or program might also come with job-placement assistance, which, of course, can be invaluable and save you the time and frustration of searching for a job. Employers looking to hire welders will quite often start their search at the nearest reputable welding school.
Different states have different certification requirements for welders. Make sure you know what, if any, certification your state requires or recommends. Even if your state doesn’t require special certification, earning it could make you more attractive to prospective employers.
Some employers are willing to offer apprenticeships that allow new welders the opportunity to learn on the job. Apprentice pay might be considerably less than that of established welders, but if you can’t afford formal training and don’t qualify for tuition assistance, getting paid to learn is definitely an attractive option. Apprenticeships may be contract driven. An employer willing to spend the time and money it takes to train you might ask for a certain amount of time worked in return. Since employers don’t like heavy turnover, most treat their apprentice programs like solid investments in the future of their business. Apprenticeships also usually involve a great deal of one-on-one time, which can help you get your skills up to par without a lot of wasted time.
Some employers may offer less formal on-the-job training. Typically, you’ll need to demonstrate some knowledge of welding to get such a job, but an employer who’s looking for less complicated welding could well be willing to train you even if you have no working knowledge of welding. Starting your welding career with simpler work can be a great way to hone your skills and build your confidence and your resumé.
If none of the above options is viable for you, there are still ways to break into the field of welding. Having a friend who’s a competent welder and willing to teach you is one way to go. In this day and age, you can also find online tutorials that can help with the basics. You might even be able to find a “weekend warrior” type of class in your area. While gaining your knowledge and experience through these methods won’t necessarily make you the most attractive candidate for some higher-paying jobs, they can help you get your foot in the door. Local workshops or amateur competitions are also a good way to sharpen your skills or even showcase them for prospective employers.
Since the need for welders in our world is unlikely to diminish in the foreseeable future, pursuing this craft can be a way to ensure that you always have a way to put food on the table.