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How do I become a welder?

Thumbtack Editors

Welders, skilled professionals who are qualified to operate welding machines, cutters, solderers and brazers, make an average of $30,000-$65,000 across the U.S., depending largely on location and experience. The first step to becoming a welder is taking welding classes, which are offered by private instructors, through welding programs at junior colleges, through vocational programs and at trade schools. Most welding classes emphasize hands-on training — you may spend some time in the classroom, but, according to the American Welding Society (AWS), about 80 percent of your training time is spent learning and practicing making different kinds of welds. After you complete a welding program, you need to find either an apprenticeship or an entry-level job; many programs have job assistance services that can help with your first placement. You will vastly increase your chance of landing a great first job — and boost your salary — if you also earn welding certifications through the AWS. Start by becoming a Certified Welder, proving that you know the procedures used in the structural steel, petroleum pipeline, sheet metal and chemical refinery welding industries. You can grow in your career by earning certifications as a welding engineer, inspector or instructor.