Ready for a Career Change? How to Find a Job You'll Love in the Welding Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will hold 12 jobs between the ages of 18 and 50. Some of these changes are small – like moving to a new company in the same industry. But some are major – such as changing to a ...
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will hold 12 jobs between the ages of 18 and 50. Some of these changes are small – like moving to a new company in the same industry. But some are major – such as changing to a completely new career.
There are many reasons why you may decide that now is the time to explore a new career. Maybe you’ve been feeling burned out or bored at your current role. Perhaps you need a job with a higher salary and more room for advancement. Or it could be that you need a career that offers more scheduling flexibility around your family responsibilities.
Making a major career change can seem intimidating but it’s often not as difficult as you may think. Especially if you enter a career like welding. In today’s economy, welders are in very high demand – which means there are many jobs available in most areas of the country, and the positions can be lucrative. It also doesn’t take very long or cost a fortune to get trained to be a welder.Here’s another fact that may surprise you. The average age of a new welder entering the field is 27, which means it’s not too late if you’re a few years out of college or into a career that isn’t working out. If you’re ready to make the leap and start a brand-new career that can offer more satisfaction and an excellent salary, here’s how you can become a welder.
Step 1: Complete a Welding Training Program
There are three main ways to get trained and learn the necessary skills to start a career in welding. You may be hesitant about going back to school and spending more money on education. That’s a valid concern, but you’ll be happy to know that most welding programs are shorter and more cost-efficient than a four-year college.Technical School: Sometimes called trade or vocational schools, a technical school in your area may offer a welding certificate program. Your education will be very focused – you’ll only take courses that are directly related to a career in welding. Based on your school, it may take 6 to 18 months to complete your program.
Community College: Many community colleges offer an associate degree in welding technology. These programs typically take two years to complete, although you may be able to transfer some credits from a previous school to reduce the number of general studies courses you will need to take to earn your degree.
Apprenticeship: Welding apprenticeships are usually available through employers and trade unions. This route combines hands-on-training and classroom instruction. You’ll work closely with and learn the trade from experienced welders. Plus, you usually get paid for on-the-job training. Apprenticeships can take 3-5 years to complete, and you will earn a journeyman’s card, which can help you stand out in the job market.
Step 2: Become an AWS Certified Welder
While certification isn’t technically required to get a job in welding, employers will often want to know you have the proper skills and techniques. That’s why becoming an AWS Certified Welder is a valuable step. You sign up at an AWS Accredited Test Facility and take the test with a Certified Welding Inspector. You’ll be asked to demonstrate your skills and perform a few welding tasks. Once you pass the test, you’ll receive a certification card.
Step 3: Finding a Welding Job
Welding is used in so many industries, you’re bound to find a role or field that interests you. Like any career, you won’t be able to get the top jobs right away – but if you hone your skills and prove to be a reliable asset, you can quickly work your way up the ladder. Depending on your personal situation and goals, you can also look for a welding job that provides opportunities for travel, or find a local gig that gives you the stability you need.Here are some examples of high-paying welding jobs you can consider. It’s possible for many of these jobs to pay $100,000 or more per year.
Welding Fabricator: Welders are needed for manufacturing products across many industries, including automotive, agriculture, telecommunications, aerospace and more.
Ironworker: As part of a construction crew, ironworkers help build bridges, buildings, antennas, stadiums and other metal structures.
Boilermaker – Using welding and other metalworking process, boilermakers make and repair tubes for boilers, pressure vessels and vats that hold liquids.
Pipefitter: These welders specialize in techniques for building and maintaining pipe systems that transport water, steam, chemicals or fuel.
Industrial maintenance – Industrial employers need qualified welders to maintain and repair important equipment and facilities.
Contract Welder: Instead of being a full-time employee with a single company, contract welders are hired for specific jobs. A couple of examples are military support welders and industrial shutdown welders.
Welding supervisor – Using a combination of welding and management skills, supervisors manage operations to keep the project or manufacturing process running safely and smoothly.
How to get started
Making a major career change is not a decision to take lightly – but it’s also not one to put off. You don’t want to waste more time being unhappy and stuck in a job that isn’t going anywhere. By following these steps, you can get trained and start your new welding career in just a year or two.
The AWS Foundation supports programs to ensure the growth and development of the welding industry through research and educational opportunities. Our industry depends upon education that prepares the next generation to meet the challenges ahead.