Learning how to become a welder is a process that will involve a considerable commitment of time, determination and sweat. After all, a career as exciting and rewarding as welding isn’t just going to fall into your lap. Only the best can handle the challenges of working as a professional welder, so you weren’t expecting it to be easy, were you?
With that said, there is a tried and true blueprint that anyone can follow to become a welder – so long as they’re willing to put in the work. This step-by-step guide will walk you through this proven approach. All you’ll have to do is follow through!
How to Become a Welder – a Beginner’s Guide
Although the process can seem to be complicated, there are really only three basic steps to becoming a welder:
- Finish your high school diploma or earn a GED
- Complete a formal training program or apprenticeship
- Become certified through the American Welding Society (AWS)
As long as you’ve finished the above three steps, you will be qualified to work for some employers. There are going to be specific jobs that require specialized training, etc., but you’ll at least be able to get your foot in the door for an interview if you’ve taken care of those three steps.
Here’s a little bit more about the steps involved.
Finish High School
Not every employer will require you to have a high school diploma or GED, but many will. To give yourself the greatest chance of not only getting a job, but building a career that will allow you to continue to find jobs over the course of your working life, it’s essential that you take this first step.
If You’re Still in High School…
If you are currently still in high school and already know that you want to become a welder, take this responsibility just as seriously as your college-bound classmates take theirs. Welding is a serious profession that can be extremely demanding mentally, as well as physically. High school is a great time to work on things like mental focus, attention to detail and problem-solving skills – all of which you will need as a welder.
If You Didn’t Graduate…
If you didn’t finish high school and don’t have a GED, don’t despair. Many welders and other construction professionals were in the same position as you at some time in their lives. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to rise to greater heights in the welding profession if you go back and take those missing classes to get your diploma, or take the GED – so just do it!
Complete a Training Program or Apprenticeship
Welding is a highly-technical, sometimes-dangerous job and no one is going to hire you and turn you loose on a job site without first knowing that you have been properly trained. For this reason, the most-important step in learning how to become a welder is to complete a training program or apprenticeship.
Vocational Schools and Community Colleges
Welding training is probably available through your local community college, and is also offered by a number of professional welding schools. Regardless of which of these types of programs you choose, you’ll be able to learn the fundamentals of welding technology, get hands-on training under the supervision of an instructor, and earn either a certificate or diploma.
Most vocational schools and many community colleges also offer certificate programs in specialized fields of welding like MIG and TIG. Having completed a course like this will qualify you for a number of jobs, and will get employers’ attention.
They’ll also prepare you for the all-important Step Three – certification.
Another way you can choose to get your training is through an apprenticeship. This traditionally has required approaching an employer you want to work for, and convincing him to take you on as an apprentice.
In recent times, however, many schools and organizations have begun sponsoring welding apprenticeship programs. One such example of this is the program sponsored by the United Association – a trade union of plumbers, fitters, HVAC technicians and, of course, welders. You can find out about the program they offer on their website, by clicking here.
The third step in becoming a welder is to earn, and maintain your AWS certification. Becoming eligible to test for certification will require you to have either completed training at an approved institution (see Step 2), or to complete AWS’ own Certified Welder program.
Once you’re eligible to test for certification, you’ll have to pass a performance-based exam wherein you demonstrate your proficiency in specific welding tasks. If you pass the exam, you’ll receive a certification card in four-to-six weeks. If you fail, you’ll be allowed to retest at any time.
Because your certification card requires you to resubmit maintenance forms every six months, remaining certified is an ongoing process. As long as you keep working in the same type of welding, however, this will not require you to complete additional testing.
Summing It Up
So, there you have it – the three simple steps required to learn how to become a welder! Now go out there and get started, and best of luck with your career in welding!Welding Schools Staff