Welding is a skill that can provide opportunities in many different fields, including construction, fabrication and sales. There are roughly 30 different types of welding. In addition to various welding techniques, welders also need to know safety protocol, metallurgy, blueprint reading and math.
The Technical Schools Guide website lists 15 schools in North Carolina that offer classes in welding. Two of them, Wake Technical Community College and North Carolina State University at Raleigh, are in Raleigh.
The Wake Technical Community College offers apprenticeships that combine classroom lectures with hands-on experience. Some of these apprenticeships are available to high school seniors.
Many welding schools in North Carolina are associated with community colleges, which means the aspiring welding student has to be eligible to go to college. They therefore need a high school degree, a GED, or the equivalent, and they need to be at least 18 years old. Many programs also stress the need for solid math skills and the ability to speak, read, and write English fluently.
List of Welding Programs in Raleigh, NC
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Many colleges that offer welding classes require new students to take the College Board ACCUPLACER placement test to evaluate their skills in math, reading and writing. Students who have scored 500 or above in their math or English SATs are exempted from the ACCUPLACER. The same is true of students who scored 22 or above in their math or English ACT test.
Students and apprentices will need safety gear including a welding mask, safety glasses, glove and welding apron.
Application Process & Costs
There are two ASW accredited test facilities (ATFs) in North Carolina. One is at the Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, and the other is at the Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston Salem. Both schools also offer courses in welding.
The original certification fee costs $35.00, and the renewal fee is $15.00. Certification in more specialized fields can cost a lot more, though. For example, a Certified Robotic ARC Welding (CRAW) certification costs $275.00 and the renewal fee costs $200.00.
The American Welding Society (AWS) offers a variety of online courses. Among them is Fundamentals of Welding which covers such topics as safety and descriptions of various kinds of welding including oxyfuel welding, shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, and others. Prices vary depending on the course, but members of the AWS get significant discounts.
Maintaining Certification/License & Renewal
A welding certification is gained by taking a practical test that covers knowledge of techniques and safety protocol. The student will have to set up equipment and weld pipes. The certification takes the form of a card that has to be renewed every six months. The welder’s employer has to sign the renewal forms verifying that they are still using the same techniques that they had originally been tested for.
A welding certification assure employers that the welder has successfully demonstrated their ability to perform a given type of sound weld as per industry standards.
Training towards earning a certificate can take 6 to 12 months. Aspiring welders may also study towards an associate’s degree in welding at a community college. Associate’s degree programs last a year or two, and the student often has more course choices.
Salary & Job Prospects
Graduates from the various welding schools will be able to secure entry-level positions as welders. Most entry-level welders can earn $25,000 to $30,000 per year, while those working for the oil industry can earn at least twice that.
Welding jobs throughout the country are expected to grow at about 6%. While that’s slower than some other occupations, it is still growth, and the demand for welders is neither declining nor standing still. Welders are needed in factories and mines. There is also a demand for welding instructors. Other fields requiring welders are engineering, metal production, automotive and transportation.