Since the recession came to an end in 2009, manufacturing in the United States is growing faster than the rest of the economy. Alongside that growth is a strong demand for welders. The American Welding Society estimates there will be a shortage of almost 300,000 professionals in the field by the year 2020.
That provides lots of opportunity for people interested in becoming a welder by attending classes at welding schools in Los Angeles. Let’s take a closer look at the variety of educational opportunities for welding, how to apply, certifications, salary ranges, and job prospects.
Welding schools in Los Angeles are offered by technical colleges like Los Angeles Trade Technical College and educational institutions like Glendale Community College, El Camino College and Cerritos College.
Welding students in Southern California can earn Certificates of Achievement or Associates of Science degrees in welding for gas and electric applications. Associates programs are two years in length, while certificate programs are generally one to three semesters long.
Most institutions have open admissions and accept applicants who are at least 18 years old with a GED or high school diploma. Advanced classes generally require prerequisites completed in lower level courses.
List of Welding Programs in Los Angeles, CA
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Application Process and Costs
Interested students can apply online, or contact the institution to discuss alternative ways to apply if online access is not available. Tuition ranges from $26 to $50 and up per academic unit for California residents and $190 and up for out-of-state residents.
Because of the hands-on nature of welding, classes available online are limited. Often, online welding courses are used to gain noncredit continuing education for welders in the field rather than students learning the trade in a degree program or for a certificate. Nonetheless, various online courses are available that provide credit toward a certificate or degree.
Online courses are offered in a variety of topic areas such as introductory welding, blueprint reading, metallurgy, welded structure fitness, nondestructive evaluation and welding symbols.
There are also programs available online to help prepare students for the position of Certified Welding Inspector. These courses are offered by the American Welding Society, the body that approves final certification for all welders.
Maintaining Certification/License and Renewal
One of the keys to advancing a career in welding is by garnering a specialized certification. Certification provides more opportunities to take a leadership role in the industry, earn more money and take on bigger career challenges.
The American Welding Society is responsible for certifying welders in several different categories including supervisors, educators, welding engineers, inspectors and fabricators. Certifications must be maintained at regular intervals. If too much time passes, a welder must start from the beginning and apply for recertification.
Salary and Job Prospects
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions involving brazing machine setters, welders, operators, and tenders are expected to grow almost seven percent through the year 2020.
In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, there are just over 1000 people employed in the industry. Average hourly pay rates are just over $15. The annual salary is slightly more than $32,000. In the Santa Anna-Anaheim area, average hourly pay rates are just over $17, and average annual salaries are just shy of $36,000.
For more than 20 years, the United States did not encourage young people to learn a trade. As a result, there is a significant demand for welders, fabricators, engineers, teachers, inspectors and a variety of other professional positions related to the welding industry. Signing up for any of the quality welding schools in Los Angeles is the first step toward a rewarding career in the field.