Welding Schools Guide

Welding is a growing field that many have a strong desire to enter. There are many different types of welding work that a trained welder can do. The versatility of the profession and the strong job outlook for the field make it an excellent career choice. There is a good deal of training required, however. While it may look easy to melt two pieces of metal together, doing it consistently and well is very difficult. Thankfully, there are many excellent schools that teach the trade to those interested in learning it. Many of these are trade schools, but a growing number of colleges offer courses of study leading to welding certifications. These schools prepare students for the arduous work they will face in their professional lives. Welding is no easy task, and the physical demands should be taken seriously. However, a highly skilled welder can make a great deal of money and contribute to society through the things he or she helps build.
Types of welding
While stick, TIG, and MIG are the best known forms of welding, there are many others. Some are highly specialized and only used in very specific applications, while others are useful for many applications, but have not yet caught on or use prohibitively expensive equipment. Stick welding is one of the most popular types of welding precisely because it does not have this problem. The equipment is relatively cheap and easy to use. An electrode in a varying amount of flux melts the metal, which is then protected by slag. This sort of welding does have a few shortcomings. It is usually only effective on iron-based metals and is slow. TIG welding, on the other hand, is effective on all types of metals. It is, like stick welding, quite slow. However, it can produce extremely high quality welds. It is often used for aircraft and boat construction. Of course, with high quality welds comes the need for high quality craftsmanship. TIG welding requires a greater degree of skill than MIG welding. The process of MIG welding produces quality welds when used by a skilled craftsman, although not quite as high quality as TIG welding. It should be noted that MIG welding is much faster. There are other types of less common welding, including submerged arc welding (which is very expensive but produces quick and quality welds), and flux-core arc welding, which has similar pros and cons to submerged arc welding.
Training and Education
Many welders learn their trade in the Armed Forces, as the military needs a great number of welders for their operations. This gives the servicemen a very useful skill that can be translated to civilian life after they complete their service contract. However, this is not an option for many. Most welding positions require that a prospective applicant already be trained, so aspiring welders will need to attend a trade school or college with a welding program. Welding schools need to teach very difficult techniques and require the school to have very advanced equipment, so they are not cheap. A year of tuition at Tulsa Welding School, generally considered to be the best in the industry, is roughly $15,000 to $20,000. It is important to note, however, that one year of school may be enough to learn the trade. Generally, programs run from a year to two years, depending on the school and the student. During this time, they will receive a full welder’s education, from the most simple stick welds to the most advanced TIG welding techniques. It is important that a student choose a reputable school. To ensure this happens, aspiring welders are encouraged to contact the American Welding Society, or AWS.
Certification and Licensing
As with the vast majority of artisanal industries, welders are offered certification by the preeminent national society of the industry. This is the AWS. While the certification they offer is not required by law, many positions will only consider applicants that have it. Thankfully, the certification test is not terribly difficult. Any welder that has been properly trained should be able to pass it. A variety of standard welds must be undertaken, the resulting work must be acceptable quality. Should the work not be up to standards, the welder will have to retake the test. However, passing the test should not be a problem for someone that is prepared. All of the work required for the test is doable with standard welding techniques. The AWS also offers endorsements for many specialities. These specialities include railroad welding, aircraft welding, naval welding, and many others. It is relatively inexpensive to take the endorsement tests, so it may be a good idea for new welders to take several and put them on their resumes.
Qualifications and Requirements
The qualifications and requirements inherent in being a welder are many and varied. Welders must have certain physical and mental traits, as well as specific types of experience for many jobs. This career path is not for everyone, but those that stick it out can expect a rewarding work experience and excellent financial remuneration. To be a welder in the first place, one has to have excellent eyesight and upper body strength. Also, a welder cannot have any respiratory problems, as people in this line of work are sometimes exposed to unpleasant fumes. A good welder also needs mental strength. He or she must be patient and able to concentrate intently for long periods. A welder that has all of these capabilities and the right training is ready to work, but many jobs require specific experience in order to be considered. Welders often attempt to get experience in their desired specialty by interning when in school. However, this is sometimes not possible. In this case, he or she will need to get experience by assisting a welder already working in this speciality. Many welders, especially those in the more difficult specialities, need assistants. The pay will be significantly less than that of an actual welder, but the experience is invaluable.
Job Description
Welders, at the most basic level, are responsible for attaching two pieces of metal together. However, this sort of work is necessary for a wide variety of different processes. The aircraft industry may be the most well-known and prestigious of these. Welders that help to build aircraft can make six figures very easily. It is important to note that the competition for these jobs is fierce. The successful candidate for an aircraft welding job generally has years of experience. Boat welding is a related area that also pays quite well, but does not require quite as much experience. The competition for these jobs is still fierce, but less so. The welding in these areas is generally TIG, so many welders will move back and forth between doing aircraft and doing boats. Of course, these areas are for the most skilled and experienced welders. Most start out doing simple structural work and pipe welding. Even these jobs pay relatively well, as there is a lot of demand for welders and not many that are properly qualified. While this means there is plenty of lucrative work, it also means that welders often have to work long hours.
Salary Trends
The salary of a welder can vary wildly based on experience and speciality. Most welders start out at roughly $30,000 a year. This goes up steeply after a few years of experience. As previously mentioned, the boat and aircraft industries will also pay premiums to experienced welders. The salary trends for this career field are excellent. Advances in technology have enabled welding in a greater variety of situations and with a greater variety of materials. This and the excellent economy have made the salaries of welders rise in recent years. Experts expect that this rise will continue for some time, as the demand for welders is predicted to outstrip the number of people entering the field. There are some that think the increasing presence of robots capable of doing welds will drive salaries down for the welders. However, there are still a large variety of welds that require the oversight of a human being. This does not look like it will change in the near future.
Employment and Job Outlook
Finding one's first job as a welder can be difficult. Almost all positions require experience. There are ways to gain this experience, as previously discussed. However, even when one does get the job, the pay for an entry level welder is fairly low. Some people leave the trade. A position as a welder, even an entry level welder, is very stable. Even if a young welder is not making the bug bucks, there are few enough properly qualified welders that his or her job security is excellent. This principle applies to the industry as a whole, and also ensures that there will be plenty of jobs available for those that do get into the industry. Overall, the job outlook for welding is very positive.