How to Pursue a Career in Welding

Does the thought of sitting behind a desk put you to sleep? If you want great money, great job security, and interesting work without spending years in school, a career in welding may be your best bet.

America is in desperate need of welders. Older welders are reaching retirement age, and younger welders aren’t replacing them fast enough. According to the American Welding Society, the average age of a welder today is 55, and less than 20% of today’s welders are under the age of 35.  Unless people step up now, the projected shortage will be at 400,000 welders by 2024.

Those jobs aren’t going away. Welders will always be needed, indoors and outdoors —from the bottom of the ocean to outer space and everywhere in between — as long the things people build and repair are made of metal.

That means that along with job security and importance, skilled welders have the flexibility to switch industries or move to new locations without changing careers. Best of all, having a successful welding career doesn’t depend on connections or a college degree, it depends on how skilled you are, how far you’re willing to travel, and what kinds of assignments you’ll accept.

Most employers require welding job candidates to pass a hands-on test.  In addition to mastering the physical skills, welders need to know how to read blueprints, develop a sharp eye for detail, and a demonstrate a fairly high level of physical stamina. Good hand-eye coordination and a mindset for safety are also very important.

A highly-skilled welder can earn as much as a doctor or lawyer. Traveling industrial pipe welders earn anywhere from $50,000.00 – $185,000.00 a year. Underwater welders can earn from $100,000.00 over $200,000. 00 a year. Military support welders can earn from $160,000.00 to more than $200,000.00 a year in the Middle East. Welders who travel for a living are called “Road Warriors.”  Many of them do contract work that allows them to take long stretches of time off.  Welding inspectors have less strenuous jobs and still earn about $70,000 per year.

You can earn a welding certificate in as little as nine months, though depending on your long-term goals and your interest in schooling, an associates, or even bachelors degree might be a better choice.

The vast majority welding students are offered good jobs before they graduate. The well-known Fab School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, for example, reports a a 95% Career Placement Rate and a 97% on-time graduation rate.

The GI Bill will fund a trade school education. In addition, there are lots of welding scholarships available. Here are just a few:

American Welding Society (AWS) Scholarship

Amount: $1,000 (25+ scholarships)

For students seeking welder training in a certificate program less than two years in length through a trade school, community college, or other facility providing welder training.

Deadlines: Varied

To learn more about these scholarships or to apply visit: AWS.org

AWS Foundation Scholarships

Deadlines: Varied

For women pursuing a degree in a welding or welding-related educational program.

To learn more about these scholarships or to apply visit: AWS.org/foundation

Air Products Women of Gases & Welding Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

To learn more about these scholarships or to apply visit: air-products-women

There are also a huge number of school-specific and location-specific welding scholarships out there.

Your military experience helped you develop strong decision making skills, good communication skills, and a solid work ethic. Bringing those qualities to a field where you’re desperately needed might be one of the best choices you’ll ever make.

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About the author

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Caroline Sposto is a writer, actor, and the founder of Savvy Civility, an educational company that specializes in civilian role play training. She has a passion for the arts, education, and small business.