How Long Is Welding School?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that we’ll see over 14,000 new welders enter the workforce by 2028 and a growth rate of 6%. If you’re interested in becoming part of that wave, check out the information below to learn how long it will take to become a welder.

We’ll also walk you through what kind of requirements welding demands, the current job market, salary expectations and more.

What Does a Welder Do?

A welder fuses metal parts and metals like aluminum together. For example, they might create a metal furniture stand or weld two columns together at a construction site.

These highly skilled individuals use tools that create heat to combine metal components for a variety of construction work. Welders also fill holes and repair metal constructions.

Some typical job duties of a welder include:

  • Reading blueprints and drawings to plan layouts and understand project specifications.
  • Selecting appropriate welding equipment and methods to use based on project requirements.
  • Setting up welding equipment according to specifications.
  • Maintaining and fixing welding equipment.
  • Welding components of various sizes and in different locations.
  • Following the appropriate safety regulations while welding.

Common responsibilities of a welder may include:

  • Making sure each project completed is durable and safe for consumers to use.
  • Following safety regulations to handle flame usage safely and responsibly.
  • Maintaining the proper temperature of the flame and metals during the welding process
  • Cleaning and storing welding equipment.
  • Viewing blueprints to determine the length and dimensions of the product being welded.

How Long Is Welding School?

There are several training options to become a welder including vocational schools, community colleges, apprenticeships, welding training programs, and on-the-job training. After training, students receive a diploma, a certificate, or an associate degree. These training options dictate the duration one takes to become a certified welder.

A bachelor’s degree in welding generally takes the longest time to complete at four years.

An associate degree program in welding is generally two years long, while a certification program usually takes six to 18 months to complete. Students may also choose to complete an apprenticeship or receive formal training in welding for a few years.

Employers generally prefer welders who have completed an educational program and earned an undergraduate degree or certification.

According to the American Welding Society (AWS), post-secondary welding programs and industry certifications are encouraged. Still, there are several available paths to becoming a welder.

The AWS certification is a performance-based evaluation which requires no prerequisite courses or certifications. The exams are designed to test welders on procedures used in the structural steel, petroleum pipelines, sheet metal and chemical refinery welding industries.

Tests for Certified Welder (CW) are performed at AWS Accredited Testing Facilities located throughout the world. Other certification categories include:

  • 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

It is important to note that different facilities will offer different opportunities. The American Petroleum Institute, for instance, offers a welding inspection and metallurgy certificate for those looking for work within the petrochemical industry.

Those looking to acquire certain skills in areas such as exotic welding or underwater welding are encouraged to pursue welding training programs or industry certifications specific to that goal.

Welding certificate programs help prepare individuals for these kinds of exams. A welding program may last just a few weeks or take up to six months to complete.

A welding school will cover welding theory and welding basics to arm students with the skills they need to start work upon completion. They will learn how to use welding equipment safely, read blueprints, and complete work orders.

What Types of Welding Do Welding Schools Teach?

Completing your education in welding allows you to learn about a variety of skilled trades that use welding regularly. There are four primary types of welding processes that certification programs or degree programs might teach, including:

Arc welding

Employees often use this type of welding when working in construction and manufacturing to weld larger and thicker materials together. It’s also referred to as “stick welding” and involves basic fusion practices.

MIG welding

As one of the most popular welding practices, MIG welding involves fusing stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum. Many consider this the simplest type of welding to learn. Many employers will require welders to know this type of welding.

TIG welding

Tig welding is one of the more complex welding types to learn. It uses tungsten inert gas to create fusions that are considered more high-quality than others. This welding type often requires higher-level education, training, or certifications.

Flux-cored arc welding

Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) is an automatic or semi-automatic welding process that uses a continuous wire feed process. It combines the electrode filled with flux with a base metal. Companies employ this type of welding to weld thick or rusted and contaminated metals. Machining industries often use FCAW.

Hyperbaric welding

Hyperbaric welding can be conducted in a dry environment, but the same method can be used when welding underwater. Workers who learn this specific type of welding can work on ships, pipelines, and oil platforms.

Oxyacetylene welding

Steel melts from this type of welding using acetylene gas and oxygen. It can be used for maintenance or cutting of various metal types.

Is a license necessary to work as a welder?

After completing your education at a welding trade school, it may also be necessary to earn a welding license before you can begin working.

Some states may have license requirements for welders in addition to specific welding certification programs and certification requirements. These will differ from region to region.

In New York City, for example, applicants for a welding license must successfully complete the American Welding Society Manual-Shielded Metal Arc Welding Process (SMAW) certification or the New York State Department of Transportation Field Welder Certification Manual-Shielded Metal Arc Welding Process for 3G and 4G.

Check-in with your local Department of Labor and training to know about the specific requirements in your area.

Why Choose Formal Welding Training?

When considering welding school, it may be easy to think of skipping it altogether. If you could jump from high school straight to your profession, why not take the easy route? Not only will a formal welding program prepare you with the skills you need to succeed, but you will also qualify for more job opportunities, certification opportunities, and a higher salary, as well.

According to the latest survey by the CBIA, the growing manufacturing sector means more employers are looking for highly skilled, educated workers who can step into their roles ready to work. In Connecticut, 42% of employers are looking for candidates with post-secondary education under their belts, such as intensive training at the college level and college certificate programs.

Launching a career in welding in Connecticut means working in one of the largest sectors of the state’s economy. The CBIA found that more than 4,000 manufacturing companies are based in the Nutmeg State. An estimated 159,000 manufacturing employers are home in Connecticut, too, earning more than $95,000 per year.

Welding offers a bright future for anyone interested in this hands-on role in Connecticut. In addition to job security and a rewarding career, welders can look forward to growth within this ever-evolving industry.

Thanks to the advancements in technology, manufacturing plants are continuously improving and updating machinery for increased productivity and precision. Those who have received proper training can go into this field with an edge over the competition, ready to learn new and improved equipment straight out of the gate.

Instead of asking yourself “How long is welding school?”, try asking yourself how much you want to break into this exciting and growing industry. Once you have earned your education and received the training needed to land the job, you will be able to enjoy a long and successful career for many years to come.