According to the American Welding Society (AWS), a shortage of skilled welders in a range of industries, including construction, manufacturing, energy, aerospace and transportation, makes now a good time for potential welders to learn the trade. The most recent salary survey, conducted in 2015, shows that the median hourly wage for welders ranges from $18 in Nevada to $22 in Wyoming to $33 in Alaska. To become a welder, people can take online courses or on-site classes that teach everything from the fundamentals of welding to preparing for a certified welder exam.
Students can choose from several on-site welding schools around the country, such as Pro-Weld in Nampa, Idaho. Pro-Weld’s curriculum sets students up to be professional, certified welders with classes in safety procedures, weld inspection and testing, oxyfuel cutting, air carbon arc cutting, shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, flux cored arc welding, gas metal arc welding and more.
At Pro-Weld, students choose from three welding courses: the 36-week Welder Fabrication Course, the 24-week Gas Tungsten Arc Welding Course, or the 24-week or 52-week Pipe Welding Course. Welder Fabrication and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding each cost $3,300, while Pipe Welding costs $2,500 for 24 weeks, $4,500 for 52 weeks. The school also offers a 12-session welding and certification prep class for $550, and the certification exam costs $150.
The AWS offers online courses to supplement welders’ knowledge. The Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) online seminar lasts just 8 weeks and costs $1,665; it prepares welders for the CWI exam. The Welding Sales Representative (WSR) seminar is 23 hours long, costs $600, and prepares students for the WSR exam.
In addition to passing the welding school’s certification exam, welders can earn a range of certifications through the AWS to further their careers. By taking additional courses and tests, welders can become CWIs, Certified Welding Supervisors (CWSes), or Certified Welding Educators (CWEs). The CWI exam costs $1,065; sections can be re-tested individually for $225 each. The CWS exam costs $600, the CWE exam costs $850, and the CWSR exam costs $415.
People interested in learning how to weld as a hobby can also take classes from professional welders, such as at KCMA & Services in Waterloo, Indiana.