Training to be a welder in Texas gives you the opportunity to participate in the state’s exciting current phase of growth and industrial development. The population growth that is spurring building and road construction and the booming oil and gas industries make this a great time to become a welder. In the El Paso area, there are welding courses available at the El Paso Community College (EPCC) and the privately operated Western Technical College.
EPCC has an open enrollment policy, so there are no competitive entry requirements. The welding program is taught at the Advanced Technology Center through the Continuing Education department and only requires registration. You may be asked to take a test of basic academic competency, but you do not need a high school diploma or GED. Western Tech does require its students to present a diploma or GED for admission.
List of Welding Programs in El Paso, TX
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Application Process and Costs
Application to EPCC requires filling out a registration form and submitting it to the Continuing Education department. The course of study lasts one year and consists of 38 credit hours. When you successfully finish the curriculum you will receive a Certificate of Completion which qualifies you for entry-level jobs as a Commercial/Industrial AWS Certified Welder. The cost of EPCC is $84 per credit hour for residents, plus any minimal incidental fees that may apply. The welding program at Western Tech is available as either a 17-month day schedule or a 21.5-month evening and night schedule. The total cost is $27,000. Application to Western Tech requires an initial interview at the campus to make sure you and the school are a good match. Once you have been accepted as a student for the Advanced Welding Technology course, the interviewer will walk you through the rest of the application process. Financial aid is available to qualified students at both EPCC and Western Tech.
EPCC and Western Tech do not offer welding classes online. The practical nature of the work requires that students actively participate in the learning process and gain practical experience with their skills.
Maintaining Certification/License and Renewal
The certification protocol of the American Welding Society (AWS) is considered the standard for professional welders. You will not receive a credential for overall welding ability, but individual certifications for the particular skills that you have demonstrated. Both EPCC and Western Tech assist their students with preparation for the AWS tests. Every six months you must provide AWS with a certificate maintenance form to retain your status as an AWS-approved welder. As long as you are working as a welder your employer can verify that you have maintained your skills at the required level.
Salary and Job Prospects
Job growth for welders in Texas is predicted to be above average compared to the rest of the country. Wages are also typically slightly higher than the national mean of about $39,000. However, you may need to be willing to relocate for the best opportunities. The biggest demand for welders is in the metropolitan areas that are experiencing rapid growth, like Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth, or the cities that are heavily involved in the oil and gas industry, like Houston.
If you live in the El Paso area, you can choose from two schools that offer courses in welding. They will both prepare you for entry level jobs with classes that teach you about subjects such as metal working, pipe welding, the fundamentals of blue prints and work safety. The knowledge and abilities you gain from these programs will allow you to build a career that is secure, respected and well-paid.