How to Become a Certified Welder

May 1, 2022

Did you know that the demand for professional welders is expected to grow 8% in the next ten years? The career offers opportunities across several industries, from construction to automobile manufacturing, aeronautics, and more.

As opportunities increase, so do the credentials expected of aspiring welders. Certification has become a standard requirement among many employers. It’s also become a way to advance in the field and increase earning potential.

While the process of becoming a certified welder varies depending on industry, experience, and location, there are a few core credentials all individuals must abide by. In this article, we’ll walk you through what it takes to become a professional welder and secure your certification.

The process of becoming a certified welder is a relatively easy one. This article will take you through helpful guidelines on how to begin a career in the welding industry.

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What Does a Welder Do?

certified welder

Welding is critical to the construction process and generally used to create or repair metal components and structures. It involves intense heat to fuse multiple metals such as aluminum, brass, or stainless steel, forming strong and permanent bonds.

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Guide to Becoming a Certified Welder

While becoming a certified welder isn’t inherently difficult, the field is secured by certain requirements. Check out the list below to learn more about how to break into the industry.

Fulfill the Educational Requirements

High School Diploma

Because basic math is important to the job, a high school diploma or GED is required for all aspiring welders. While some graduates may try to enter the workforce right after acquiring the credential, others will apply it towards vocational school. There, they will receive training in specific welding processes including gas metal arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, TIG welding, and more.

Vocational Training

Not only do welding programs provide opportunities to learn about the welding process, but it also allows individuals to gain hands-on experience with the tools and materials they’ll be working with on the job. Students will also learn about various safety measures for handling power tools and equipment.

Enroll in a Degree Program

Aspiring welders can also enroll in a welding degree program. While these programs are often more costly and time-consuming than vocational training, it does qualify candidates for more advanced and higher-paying positions. Many of these institutions also offer apprenticeship and job placement programs.

Apply for Welding Certifications

Welding certificate programs typically conclude with a series of examinations to verify a welder’s ability to perform welding tasks and operate welding equipment. The American Welding Society (AWS) remains an industry authority with standards approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The organization offers certification programs across several specialties, including:

Individuals can sit for the certified welder test without any prior training or certificates. The certification test emphasizes petroleum pipelines, structural steel, and chemical refinery welding techniques.

You can access the test at any AWS accredited testing facility. Test takers must also pay a $35 exam fee. AWS certified welders do not have to undergo recertification, but they must perform renewal maintenance of the certifications they hold.

The AWS also offers opportunities to become a certified welding inspector. To pass, you must receive a score of 72 percent or above. You will also be required to pass a vision test before receiving your certification. The credential is valid for three years and cannot be renewed. To sit for the test, individuals must have received two years of education post-high school in a welding curriculum or related discipline.

After working as a qualified welding inspector for six of the previous eight years, you will be qualified to sit for the Senior Certified Welding Inspector exam. The AWS maintains that all candidates must possess substantial problem-solving abilities and a minimum of 15 years of work experience in a related field.

To become a certified welding educator, you must have at least five years’ work experience. Individuals can also substitute relevant teaching experience for two of the five years of experience required. The AWS credential is valid for four years. After that period, certificate holders must complete the CWE renewal application, which costs $360 for members and $615 for non-members.

A certified welding sales representative acts as an intermediary for manufacturers and distributors. While some have direct welding experience, others are simply passionate about the industry. To qualify for the certification exam, individuals must possess five years of professional experience related to the sales of welding or cutting equipment, supplies, and other related services. The certification process involves one two-hour long exam consisting of 60 multiple-choice questions.

Check Your State Requirements

welding engineering certification

Most employers across the country require a certification from the AWS or equivalent institution. Some states have implemented licensing requirements on top of that. In New York, for instance, all aspiring welders must receive a certification from the AWS or the N.Y, State Department of Transportation. They must then apply to the state for a license.

Other cities, including Los Angeles, have developed their own certification and licensing in order for aspiring welders to work for any government entity. Anyone hoping to work for a local, state, or federal government project should check with their employer for specific requirements.

How Much Does a Certified Welder Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that industry employment will grow by about eight percent over the next ten years, with over 49,000 new welding jobs hitting the market by 2030. Today, professional welders can expect to earn around $47,000 annually, with the top ten percent of earners pocketing over $63,000 each year.

Salaries depend on education, experience, and location. Industry can also play a role in annual earnings. According to the BLS, specialty trade contractors can expect to earn more than individuals working in manufacturing and maintenance.

Highest Paying Welding Jobs Based on Location and Specialty

Shipyards & Pipelines (Alaska)

At S&B Engineers and Constructors, LTD, pipe welders are paid an average of $30 per hour. At the time of this writing, that amounts to four times as much as the federally mandated minimum wage.

Oil Businesses (North Dakota)

The average salary for a welder is $21.84 per hour in North Dakota. Companies like Dakota Petroleum Services, LLC, also offer great benefits packages.

Aerospace & Automotive Industries (Illinois)

Welder salaries in Illinois range from $19,500 to $76,500, depending on a variety of criteria. Reyco Precision Welding and Superior Joining Technologies, Inc. remain two of the top companies to work for in the area.

Underwater Welding (Texas)

The Ocean Corporation in Houston is one of the best companies to work for in Texas. While underwater welders require additional credentials like OSHA, CPR, and diving certifications, earnings have the potential to reach triple digits.

Oil Rigs (Hawaii)

Gas and oil pipeline transportation depends heavily on welding, and demand remains high in Hawaii. Companies like Pacific Shipyards International LLC, are willing to offer competitive hourly salaries, at around $28 hourly.

Manufacturing & Mining (Nevada)

The average annual wage for welding positions in Nevada is $40,625 per year. Companies like Geotemps | Geopros offer $25 to $35 hourly with side benefits like dental and insurance.

Important Skills for Certified Welders

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Welding requires proficiency in the following areas:

  • Math: Because welding is so exact, you must be able to work well with numbers and measures. It is critical to have a thorough understanding of geometry, mathematics, and fractions.
  • Physical Strength: Welders work with metal and heavy equipment, which requires a certain level of physical strength to complete the job.
  • Adaptability: You will confront problems as a welder. You must be able to adapt to changing circumstances, rebound, and roll with the punches.
  • Communication: You must be able to succinctly and directly communicate as part of a team. You should also be able to follow instructions and take command when necessary.
  • Organization: A welder needs to be organized to ensure that work moves smoothly.
  • Commitment to Learning: You must maintain your qualifications as a certified welder to keep your skills up-to-date. The most successful welders are dedicated to learning and improving their skills over time.
  • Hand-Eye Coordination: Because of the equipment used on the job, it is important to have a steady hand and a good vision to avoid hazards.
  • Attention to Detail: To ensure safety and security on the job, you must remain conscious of materials, temperatures, and other factors.
  • Problem Solving: As a welder, you must be quick to think on your feet in order to provide viable solutions at the workplace.

FAQ

What is the difference between a qualified welder and a certified welder?

A qualified welder is a person who possesses the skills required to make quality welds using a specific procedure, position, or material. On the other hand, a certified welder is a qualified welder whose qualifications have been documented and signed by an official certifying organization. Therefore, you can be qualified without being certified, but you cannot be certified without being qualified.

Is becoming a certified welder worth it?

Holding a valid welding certification makes it much easier to land a job in the field. These credentials validate an individuals’ ability to perform certain welding procedures and operate equipment safely. It also qualifies individuals for mid-level positions and higher salaries.

Which welding certification is best?

Certifications vary depending on the type of welding, but some organizations are more widely regarded than others. For instance, the Certified Welder (CW) curriculum from the American Welding Society is accepted by employers across the country.

Conclusion

Becoming a certified welder opens up enormous opportunities across an expanding industry. The New England Institute of Technology is proud to provide the training necessary to pass industry certifications in Rhode Island. Our program will help you develop pipe welding skills and learn about important concepts including CAD, building design, how to read blueprints, and additional theory.

Contact us to kick off your welding career today!

START YOUR WELDING CAREER

Earn your degree in Welding Engineering Technology from NEIT and begin your new career path today!

ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

Apply to our welding program and graduate in less than 2 years.