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Become a Certified Welder:
A Step-by-Step Guide


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Job Description: What Does a Welder Do

Job Description
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A welder is not just a tradesman but a highly skilled artisan proficient in the art of joining metals. Their expertise spans across a spectrum of materials including brass, steel, stainless steel, and aluminum, each requiring meticulous attention to detail and precision.

The realm of opportunities for welders is vast and diverse. From shipyards to manufacturing plants, from construction sites to the automobile industry, and even in the intricate world of crafting, welders play a pivotal role. They are the backbone behind the construction of aircraft and bridges, contributing to the infrastructure that sustains modern society.

The significance of a welder's work cannot be overstated. People rely on the products they create, necessitating the production of goods that are not only robust but also inherently safe. The integrity of their welds directly impacts public safety, underscoring the critical nature of their profession.


The duties of a welder encompass a range of tasks, each requiring a blend of technical skill and practical expertise:

  1. Positioning and Securing: Welders meticulously position and secure metal and metal parts using clips or clamps, ensuring optimal alignment for the welding process.

  2. Flame Management: Operating flame sources, welders expertly manage the welding area, utilizing the flame to fuse metals together with precision.

  3. Temperature Control: Carefully monitoring and controlling the temperature of the flame and the materials being welded is crucial to achieving the desired strength and integrity of the weld.

  4. Quality Assurance: Following the completion of welding, welders meticulously evaluate the final weld to ensure it meets quality standards and is safe for its intended use.

  5. Equipment Maintenance: Maintaining welding equipment is essential for ensuring its longevity and performance. Welders diligently clean equipment after use and store it properly to uphold operational efficiency.

In essence, welders are not just artisans but guardians of safety and quality in the world of metalwork. Their expertise, precision, and dedication ensure the structural integrity of countless products and infrastructural elements that underpin our modern way of life.

Certified Welder: What Does It Pay

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The average salary for a welder is $50,460 per year.

The hourly average for a welder is $24.26.

Welders with certifications and more experience can earn significantly more, depending on the job. 

Annual National Average Salary: $50,460

Annual Salary Meter

Average Salary by State - Annual

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Average Salary by State: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Alaska, where the average salary is $71,790.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Annual Salary Meter by State

*Salary information based on the June 2023 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.


Step-by-Step Guide: Becoming a Certified Welder

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Step 1 Divider

Becoming a proficient welder requires a solid educational foundation, typically starting with a high school diploma. This educational requirement is crucial for aspiring tradespeople. High schools often offer specialized courses in welding and metal fabrication, providing students with valuable hands-on experience and basic welding skills.

For those with ambitions in welding, it's advisable to take advantage of every available course related to the field. These courses not only equip students with fundamental welding techniques but also offer a glimpse into the intricacies of the profession. They serve as a crucial stepping stone for further study and help individuals confirm their commitment to pursuing a career in welding.

Beyond welding-specific courses, subjects like algebra and geometry play a significant role in a welder's daily tasks. Welders frequently engage in measurements and calculations, making mathematical proficiency essential. Additionally, science courses offer insights into the underlying principles of welding, enhancing understanding and proficiency in the craft. Thus, a comprehensive high school education not only lays the groundwork for a successful welding career but also provides invaluable knowledge and skills essential for excelling in the field.

Step 2 Divider

Students interested in pursuing a career in welding can enroll in a Welding Certificate Program, typically spanning from six to eighteen months. These programs primarily focus on hands-on training and practical applications, making face-to-face classes essential for mastering the required skills.

The cost of Welding Certificate Programs can vary significantly, ranging from approximately $3,500 to $20,000, depending on factors such as program duration, institution, and additional resources provided. Prospective students are encouraged to reach out to their desired schools or universities to gather detailed information on program specifics and costs, enabling them to make informed decisions about their education and career path.

For those seeking a more comprehensive education in welding, pursuing a Welding Technology Associate’s Degree is an option. This program typically spans two years and consists largely of face-to-face coursework, providing students with a deeper understanding of welding principles and techniques.

The cost of obtaining an Associate’s Degree in Welding Technology can vary significantly, ranging from around $6,000 to $55,000, depending on factors such as the institution's tuition fees, additional expenses, and financial aid availability.

Beyond the Associate’s Degree level, students can opt for a Welding Engineering Bachelor’s Degree program, which typically lasts for four years. This advanced degree offers in-depth theoretical knowledge and practical training, preparing graduates for leadership roles and specialized careers in welding engineering.

Step 3 Divider

Embarking on a welding apprenticeship presents a golden opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of welding as a prospective career. Throughout the apprenticeship journey, individuals not only acquire firsthand experience in welding techniques but also gain invaluable insights into industry best practices.

As apprentices work alongside seasoned professionals, they absorb essential knowledge about efficient work methodologies and safety protocols, laying a solid groundwork for their future endeavors in welding. Moreover, apprenticeships offer a dual advantage by providing an avenue for earning income while honing welding skills and establishing connections within the industry.

One of the primary benefits of apprenticeships is the hands-on experience they afford. By actively participating in welding tasks under supervision, apprentices gradually develop proficiency and confidence in their craft. This practical experience serves as a cornerstone upon which they can continually refine and expand their expertise over time.

Ultimately, welding apprenticeships offer a robust foundation upon which aspiring welders can build their careers. The combination of theoretical learning and real-world application equips apprentices with the skills, knowledge, and work ethic necessary to thrive in the dynamic field of welding.

Step 4 Divider

Welding certifications serve as crucial credentials that validate an individual's proficiency and expertise to prospective employers, establishing credibility and competency in the field. These certifications are predominantly administered by the esteemed American Welding Society (AWS), a renowned authority in welding standards and practices.

Within the AWS framework, several certifications are available, each tailored to assess and recognize specific skill sets and roles within the welding profession.


These certifications include:

1. Certified Welder (CW):
   - No prerequisites are required for this examination.
   - The examination fee is $35.
   - Candidates must undergo testing at an AWS Accredited Testing Facility.

2. Certified Welding Inspector (CWI):
   - Eligibility requirements for this certification can be fulfilled through various avenues, including education and work experience.
   - The examination fee is $850 for AWS members and $1,065 for non-members.

3. Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI):
   - Similar to the CWI, eligibility criteria encompass a combination of education and work experience.
   - The examination fee is $850 for AWS members and $1,065 for non-members.

4. Certified Welding Educator (CWE):
   - Requirements for CWE certification involve completing the CWE application, holding a teaching position, possessing a valid welding certification, and securing a letter of recommendation.
   - The certification fee is $635 for AWS members and $850 for non-members.

5. Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR):
   - Eligibility criteria for the CWSR certification are flexible and can be met through various pathways.
   - The examination fee is $275 for AWS members and $355 for non-members.

These certifications not only validate an individual's skills but also open doors to a wide array of opportunities within the welding industry, ranging from welding and inspection roles to teaching and sales positions. By obtaining these certifications, professionals demonstrate their commitment to excellence and ongoing professional development, ultimately enhancing their marketability and career prospects in the dynamic field of welding.


Welding Education & Requirements

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Completing a Welding Certificate Program typically spans from six to eighteen months, offering a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with essential skills and knowledge to kickstart their welding careers. Throughout the program, participants delve into welding fundamentals, mastering techniques and safety protocols crucial for workplace readiness upon graduation.

The curriculum of these programs covers a spectrum of topics, ranging from practical skills such as operating welding equipment safely and interpreting blueprints to soft skills like teamwork and professional conduct.


Students are immersed in hands-on training, gaining proficiency in executing work orders and collaborating effectively within a team environment.

Upon completing a Welding Certificate Program, many students opt to pursue further education by earning an Associate’s Degree in welding. This two-year program serves as a stepping stone for refining welding skills and expanding theoretical knowledge, preparing graduates to excel in their professional endeavors.

With an Associate’s Degree, welders enhance their employability and open doors to a myriad of career opportunities. Employers highly value the comprehensive education and expertise acquired through this level of qualification, recognizing graduates as knowledgeable professionals ready to contribute effectively to their teams.

For those aspiring to reach the pinnacle of welding expertise, pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a college or university is an option. This four-year program provides welders with advanced skills and theoretical understanding, enabling them to execute their job duties with unparalleled professionalism and precision.

Welders who hold a bachelor’s degree often command the highest incomes in the field, reflecting the depth of knowledge and proficiency they bring to their roles. With a solid educational foundation, these individuals are poised for success and advancement within the welding industry.


Certification & Licensure 

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Unlocking Your Potential: Navigating the World of Welding Certifications

In the competitive landscape of welding careers, having the right certifications can make all the difference. Enter the American Welding Society (AWS), the gold standard for welding certifications trusted by industry professionals worldwide. AWS certifications not only validate your proficiency in welding techniques but also attest to your commitment to safety and excellence in the field.

Comprehensive Assessment

The AWS certification process is a rigorous evaluation of your welding knowledge and skills. Through a combination of written exams and practical welding tests, participants are thoroughly assessed on their understanding of welding processes, safety protocols, and industry best practices. This comprehensive assessment ensures that certified welders possess the expertise necessary to excel in real-world welding scenarios.

Continuous Improvement

Certifications from AWS are not a one-time achievement—they require ongoing commitment to professional development. Holders are required to renew their certifications every six months to a year, demonstrating a dedication to staying current with evolving industry standards and advancements in welding technology. This commitment to continuous improvement not only enhances your skills but also boosts your credibility as a reliable and competent professional.

Expanding Opportunities

Obtaining an AWS certification opens doors to a wealth of opportunities in the welding industry. Certified welders are highly sought after by employers seeking skilled and qualified professionals for a variety of roles, from welding inspectors to sales representatives. With an AWS certification on your resume, you not only increase your earning potential but also enhance your chances of securing employment in competitive job markets.

Diverse Certification Categories

AWS offers a diverse range of certification categories to cater to the varying needs and specialties within the welding profession. From entry-level certifications like Certified Welder to advanced designations such as Certified Welding Engineer, there's a certification path for every stage of your welding career. Whether you're interested in inspection, education, or engineering, AWS has you covered with certifications tailored to your specific area of expertise.

Empowering Your Journey

In a rapidly evolving industry like welding, certifications from AWS serve as a testament to your skills and expertise, empowering you to stand out in a crowded job market and pursue rewarding career opportunities. Whether you're just starting your welding journey or looking to advance your career, AWS certifications provide the validation and recognition you need to thrive in the world of welding.

Currently, AWS offers several certification categories:

  • Certified Welding Inspector

  • Certified Associate Welding Inspector

  • Senior Certified Welding Inspector

  • Certified Welding Educator

  • Certified Radiographic Interpreter

  • Certified Welding Supervisor

  • Certified Welding Sales Representative

  • Certified Welding Engineer

  • Certified Welder

  • Certified Robotic Arc Welding

Certification Example: 

Welding Certificate Example

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

Short-Term Training: Certificate Programs (6 Months)

For those seeking a quicker entry into the welding industry, a six-month certificate program provides focused training to develop essential skills. Upon completion, graduates receive a certificate recognizing their proficiency in welding techniques and practices, equipping them for immediate entry-level positions in various industries.

Long-Term Pathway: Bachelor’s Degree (4 Years)

Delve deeper into the art and science of welding by committing to a comprehensive four-year Bachelor’s degree program. Through a blend of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience, students gain a thorough understanding of welding principles, advanced techniques, and industry standards. Graduates emerge not only as skilled welders but also as knowledgeable professionals prepared to excel in leadership roles, research endeavors, and specialized fields within the welding industry.

Regardless of the chosen pathway, these programs are designed to empower individuals with the expertise and confidence needed to thrive in today's competitive welding landscape. Join and take the first step toward a rewarding career in welding.


Job Outlook & Growth for Welding

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Experts anticipate a significant 6% increase in welding jobs, offering newly qualified welders a thriving job market ripe with possibilities.

As infrastructure continues to age and degrade, the demand for skilled welders remains steadfast. Whether it's maintaining, repairing, or even rebuilding structures, welders play a vital role in ensuring the integrity and safety of various projects.

With strong job security, welders can enjoy peace of mind knowing their skills are in high demand. While some flexibility in employment type or location may be necessary, the abundance of opportunities ensures a stable and rewarding career path.

As a site-based occupation, welders may find themselves relocating to job sites to fulfill project needs. This adaptability underscores the dynamic nature of the profession, offering diverse experiences and growth opportunities.

Employment Growth Projection: 8% by 2030


Should You Become a Welder?

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Overall Satisfaction: High

At the heart of every welded creation lies the dedication and expertise of the welder. With each spark and seam, they weave together metal and form a masterpiece. But it's not just about technical prowess; welding is an art that demands skill, technique, and a touch of creativity. From the precision of their movements to the finesse of their craftsmanship, welders breathe life into metal, turning raw materials into works of art.

Yet, the true reward for a welder isn't just in the finished product; it's in the pride that comes with it. Every welder knows the feeling of standing back and admiring a completed project, knowing that their hands played a vital role in its creation. It's a sense of fulfillment that reverberates through the soul, a testament to the dedication and passion poured into every weld.

So, if you're seeking a career that goes beyond the ordinary, where each day brings new challenges and triumphs, consider the path of welding. Join the ranks of those who dare to shape the world with fire and metal, and experience the satisfaction of crafting creations that stand the test of time.

Average Salary: High

In the realm of welding, not only do you find fulfillment in your craft, but you also reap substantial financial rewards. On average, welders earn a respectable annual salary of $50,460, translating to an hourly wage of $24.25. However, this is just the beginning. With advanced certifications and years of experience under your belt, the earning potential of a welder knows no bounds.

Job Growth Outlook: Medium

Exciting statistics forecast a remarkable surge in the field of welding, with growth expected to reach as high as 26% in the coming years. This impressive trajectory firmly establishes welding as one of the fastest-growing professions across the United States.

What makes this growth even more compelling is the versatility of welders across various industries. From construction to automotive, aerospace to manufacturing, welders are indispensable, ensuring that employment opportunities remain consistently abundant.

So, if you're considering a career in welding, rest assured that you're stepping into a dynamic field poised for substantial expansion. Embrace the potential for growth and embark on a journey where your skills are not only valued but also in high demand across a multitude of industries.

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

Becoming a welder is an accessible path for individuals with a high school diploma or equivalent. To kickstart this rewarding career, aspiring welders typically undertake an apprenticeship program. Through hands-on experience and guidance from seasoned professionals, apprentices learn the intricacies of the trade, mastering techniques and safety protocols.


For those seeking a more structured approach, many opt to enroll in certificate programs lasting around six months. These programs offer comprehensive training, covering everything from basic welding principles to specialized techniques. Upon completion, graduates earn entry-level credentials, setting them on the path to success in the welding industry.

Personal Skills Needed

  • Enjoys working with their hands to create things

  • Manual dexterity and steadfast hands

  • Physically fit

  • Pays attention to detail

  • Good depth perception and spatial orientation

  • Excellent vision with good hand-eye coordination

  • Good communication skills to listen to instructions and requests and ask the right questions to ensure the finished product is what the customer wants

  • Adept at solving problems


Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Q. What Is the Highest Paid Welding Job?
    Discover the Top-Paying Specialty: Pipe welding stands out as the highest paying specialization in the welding field. Pipeline Expertise: Despite comprising only about 4% of all welding positions, pipe welders command significant earning potential. Attractive Salaries: On average, pipe welders earn a substantial salary of $58,998. Versatile Applications: Pipe welders play a crucial role across various industries, including automobile manufacturing, construction, shipbuilding, and more. Their skills are in high demand for repairing and welding pipes, ensuring the smooth operation of infrastructure in diverse sectors.
  • Q. Is Welding in Demand?
    Unlocking the Future of Welding: Projected 26% Growth Embrace the Surge: Statistics project an impressive 26% growth in the welding industry in the near future, positioning it as one of the fastest-growing professions in the U.S. Abundant Opportunities: With welders being indispensable across a multitude of industries, employment remains consistently high. Whether it's automotive, construction, aerospace, or manufacturing, welders are in demand, ensuring steady job prospects.
  • Q. What State Has the Best Welding Jobs?
    Welding Hub: Texas emerges as the epicenter of welding opportunities in the U.S., boasting the highest concentration of welding jobs nationwide. Oklahoma ranks as Number 2 in the Nation. Employment Magnet: With an abundance of welding opportunities, Texas earns its reputation as the "welding jobs capital of the U.S.," offering a plethora of career prospects for welders. High Employment Rate: Welders in Texas enjoy an exceptionally high employment rate, providing a stable and thriving work environment. Above-Average Pay: In addition to plentiful job opportunities, welders in Texas benefit from above-average pay rates, making it an attractive destination for those seeking lucrative careers in welding.
  • Q. How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Welder?
    High School Diploma Requirement: Individuals with a high school diploma can pursue a career in welding. Apprenticeship for Skill Development: To master the craft of welding, aspiring welders typically undertake an apprenticeship program, gaining hands-on experience under the guidance of seasoned professionals. Certificate Programs for Entry-Level Credentials: Many welders opt to enroll in a six-month certificate program to acquire entry-level credentials and essential skills necessary for success in the field. These programs provide comprehensive training in welding techniques and safety protocols, preparing individuals for rewarding careers in welding.
  • Q. Do Welders Get Good Benefits?
    1. Reliable Income: One of the primary perks of being a welder is the assurance of a steady paycheck. With welding being a high-demand occupation, employment opportunities remain stable. 2. Comprehensive Benefits: Welders employed by businesses or industries often receive valuable benefits such as health coverage, and in some cases, pension or retirement plans. 3. Paid Time Off: Many welding positions offer additional benefits like paid time off or vacation time, providing opportunities for rest and relaxation. 4. Clear Career Progression: Working within a business environment provides welders with a structured path for career advancement, allowing them to chart their professional growth and development effectively.
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