According to the Bloomberg Businessweek, the average welder is currently 55 years old, which means there is a large demand for young welders to replace the ones reaching retirement age. There are roughly 30 specialties within welding.
Welders work in a variety of fields including construction, ship and boat building, and manufacturing. They help maintain and repair a variety of structures ranging from oil rigs to pipes to bridges. Welder-divers have been trained as scuba divers and work underwater to repair ships or oil rigs. If an item is made of metal, a welder will work on it at some point. As can be guessed, welders need extensive training and a certification. Luckily, there are schools that teach welding in Baltimore.
The chief prerequisite a Baltimore welding school demands is education. At a bare minimum, the applicant must have completed tenth grade. Most schools, however, prefer applicants who have either finished high school or gotten their GED. In fact, since more people are applying for welding classes, many schools recommend getting the GED first.
Students must also be 18 years old, and if they are attending a class where they will be actually welding, they need to wear work boots, flame retardants shirts with long sleeves, and heavy pants. The schools will supply safety gear that the student is expected to wear to class.
List of Welding Programs in Baltimore, MD
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Earlbeck Gases & Technologies offers courses in shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, and a variety of custom programs.
The North American Trade Schools offer courses in metal inert gas (MIG) welding, tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, stick welding or manual metal arc (MMA) welding.
The Community College of Baltimore has established a partnership with Earlbeck to offer welding courses. The classes are held at Earlbeck and include shielded metal arc welding, MIG welding and TIG welding. People who already have basic welding experience may sign up for the intermediate or advanced classes.
Application Process & Costs
At Earlbeck Gases & Technologies in Baltimore, classes range from $150 (Welding Basics) to $3400 (Fundamentals with any Intermediate (Package)). That package covers Fundamentals of Welding paired with one of the Intermediate courses. Fundamentals of Welding covers items an entry-level welder would be expected to know.
The Community College of Baltimore charges $1500 for Fundamentals of Welding and $2200 for the other, more advanced courses.
The American Welding Society (AWS) offers online courses in welding. The courses include Safety in Welding and Metallurgy. Fundamentals of Welding describes some of the various specialties within welding. Students need computers that can use Flashplayer 11 or later and Google Chrome or Safari 5 or Internet Explorer 9 or 10. The cost of the courses varies with members of the AWS getting significant discounts.
Maintaining Certification/License & Renewal
The AWS is in charge of certifying welders and maintains accredited test facilities (ATFs) throughout the US. Earlbeck Gases & Technologies in Baltimore operates the only ATF in Maryland.
A certified welder must send a certification maintenance form to the AWS every six months. They need to have their employer sign the form to prove that they are still performing the same techniques they had tested for. Renewing a certification costs $15.00.
Salary & Job Prospects
An entry-level welder can make $14 to $16 an hour, while a more experienced welder can make $30 an hour. According to the US Department of Labor, there were 337,000 jobs for welders, cutters, brass workers and solderers in 2010. The Labor Department expects that number to increase by 15% by 2020. As the average welder is 55 years old, there is a large demand for young welders to replace the ones approaching retirement age.