Getting Your Welding Career Started

  • Career Advice
  • By
  • Published on December 23, 2023

Getting Your Welding Career Started

If you're looking to start a career in welding, you're in luck! Welding jobs offer promising career opportunities and numerous welder job openings. Whether you're interested in working in construction, manufacturing, automobiles, ships, or aircraft, there is a high demand for skilled welders in various sectors.

To kickstart your welding career, you have multiple options for training and education. You can receive on-the-job training, pursue a vocational certificate, or obtain an associate's degree in welding. Employers in the welding industry prefer candidates who have completed the necessary training and hold relevant certifications.

As a welder, your job responsibilities will include fabricating metal joints, preparing materials and equipment, following safety guidelines, reading blueprints, and maintaining equipment. The role of a welder requires physical fitness, attention to detail, skilled craftsmanship, vision, and problem-solving abilities. Different types of welding, such as gas metal arc welding (MIG), shielded-metal arc welding (SMAW), flux-coated arc welding (FCAW), and gas tungsten arc welding (TIG), require specific skills and certifications.

Obtaining certifications from the American Welding Society (AWS) can enhance your job prospects and set you apart from the competition. Additionally, welders have opportunities for advancement in roles such as welding inspector, welding instructor, or welding engineer.

Key Takeaways:

  • Welding jobs offer promising career opportunities with numerous job openings.
  • Training options for aspiring welders include on-the-job training, vocational certificates, and associate's degrees in welding.
  • Employers prefer candidates who have completed relevant training and hold certifications from the American Welding Society (AWS).
  • Welders are responsible for fabricating metal joints, following safety guidelines, and reading blueprints.
  • Different types of welding require specific skills and certifications.

Types of Welding Processes

Welding is a diverse field with various types of welding processes. Understanding these processes is essential for determining the most suitable method for specific applications.

Gas Metal Arc Welding (MIG)

MIG welding, also known as metal inert gas welding, is widely used for fabricating metal joints in industries such as shipbuilding, automobiles, bridges, and steel components. In MIG welding, an electric arc is formed between a consumable wire electrode and the workpiece, creating a pool of molten metal that forms the weld.

Shielded-Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

SMAW, commonly known as stick welding, is a popular and simple-to-operate type of welding. It is often used in construction jobs, home projects, and repair activities. In SMAW, an electric arc is generated between a coated electrode (the "stick") and the workpiece, where the heat produced by the arc melts both the electrode and the base metal, forming the weld.

Flux-Coated Arc Welding (FCAW)

FCAW is an ideal welding process for mass production lines. It utilizes a consumable flux-cored electrode that is continuously fed through the welding gun. The flux coating on the electrode provides a shielding gas and creates a protective slag, which helps protect the weld from atmospheric contamination.

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG)

TIG welding is a specialized type of welding used to join aluminum, magnesium, copper, and brass alloys. It requires highly skilled welders due to its precise control and extensive manual operation. In TIG welding, an electric arc is formed between a non-consumable tungsten electrode and the workpiece. The weld area is protected by an inert gas, typically argon, to prevent atmospheric contamination.

Each type of welding process has its own set of advantages and applications. When choosing a welding process, consider factors such as the type of metal being welded, the desired weld quality, and the specific requirements of the project.

Training and Education in Welding

To pursue a successful career in welding, it is essential to receive proper training and education. Whether you choose a vocational welding program or an associate's degree in welding engineering technology, these programs offer comprehensive hands-on experience to teach you the necessary skills and techniques.

During your training, you will dive into various aspects of welding, including industrial safety procedures, metallurgy, blueprint reading, precision measurement, and nondestructive testing. These subjects are crucial for developing a deep understanding of the welding process and ensuring high-quality work.

If you prefer a more practical approach, a welding apprenticeship program might be the right choice for you. These programs allow you to earn money while receiving on-the-job training and mentoring from experienced professionals. Many apprenticeships are offered through vocational schools, community colleges, or directly through welding companies.

The Value of Certification

In addition to formal training, pursuing certifications in welding can greatly enhance your job prospects and validate your skills. The American Welding Society (AWS) offers a range of certifications that demonstrate your expertise in specific areas of welding.

Some notable certifications include the Certified Welder (CW) and the Certified Welding Inspector (CWI). By obtaining these certifications, you showcase your knowledge and proficiency, positioning yourself as a qualified and highly sought-after welder in the job market.

By enrolling in training programs and pursuing certifications, you are investing in your future as a welder. These qualifications not only increase your chances of securing desirable employment but also open up opportunities for career advancement and higher earning potential.

Certified Welder (CW)- Demonstrates proficiency in basic welding skills in various processes and positions.

Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)-Validates expertise in inspecting welds, ensuring compliance with industry standards and specifications.

Other Welding Certifications- There are numerous other certifications available for specialized welding processes, such as gas metal arc welding (MIG), shielded-metal arc welding (SMAW), and gas tungsten arc welding (TIG).

By combining comprehensive training, hands-on experience, and relevant certifications, you will become a skilled welder ready to excel in the industry. Whether you choose a vocational program or pursue a degree, invest in your future and unlock a world of exciting opportunities in welding.

Career Paths in Welding

A career in welding offers various paths for advancement and specialization. Entry-level welding jobs are available in manufacturing, construction, heavy machinery, automobiles, ships, and aircraft industries. With additional training and experience, you can pursue roles such as welding supervisor, welding engineer, welding instructor, or welding inspector. These roles often involve higher responsibilities, including project management, planning, microstructure analysis, and overseeing daily production.

Welders can also explore opportunities in niche areas such as pipeline welding, welding engineering technician, industrial engineering technician, quality control engineering technician, or computer-aided design and drafting (CADD). Whether you choose to specialize in a specific area or work across different industries, there are various job opportunities available to suit your interests and goals.

Welding instructors play a crucial role in training aspiring welders and may work in welding schools or vocational training programs. As an instructor, you would have the opportunity to share your expertise and help develop the next generation of skilled welders.

Welding inspectors ensure welding quality and adherence to safety standards. By taking on this role, you would play a crucial part in maintaining the highest standards of quality and safety in welding projects.

Another avenue to explore is joining a union, such as the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers or the United Association. Unions provide access to apprenticeships, training opportunities, and job assignments, helping you advance in your welding career.

“The beauty of a career in welding is the diverse range of opportunities it offers. From starting as an entry-level welder to progressing into supervisory, engineering, instructional, or inspector roles, there are numerous paths to explore. Whether you choose to specialize in a specific area or work across different industries, the skills you develop as a welder will open doors to countless job opportunities.”

Salary and Job Growth in Welding

When considering a career in welding, it's natural to wonder about the salary potential and job growth in this field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welders earned an average salary of $46,690 in 2020.

However, it's important to note that this average salary can vary based on several factors. Location, experience, industry, and job responsibilities all play a role in determining a welder's earning potential. Certain states, such as Alaska, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and Wyoming, have higher wages for welders, providing opportunities for better compensation.

To maximize your earning potential as a welder, consider expanding your skills and expertise. Obtaining specialized certifications and gaining experience in specialized areas can open up higher-paying opportunities.

Job growth in the welding industry is projected to be favorable, with a growth rate of 3% from 2019 to 2029, according to the BLS. This growth is primarily fueled by the construction and manufacturing industries' ongoing demand for skilled welders.

"Welders are not only skilled professionals, but they also play a critical role in various industries. Their expertise and craftsmanship are highly valued, and as the demand for new infrastructure and products grows, so does the need for skilled welders."

With this positive job outlook, aspiring welders can enter the field with confidence, knowing that there will be job opportunities available to them. By keeping up with industry trends, continuing to enhance your skills, and exploring specialized areas of welding, you can position yourself for long-term success in this dynamic and rewarding career.

Welder Average Salary by State:

Alaska $67,020

Virgin Islands $63,730

Hawaii $62,840

District of Columbia$60,460

Wyoming $60,170

Table: Highest-Paying States for Welders (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Steps to Become a Welder

To become a welder, you can follow these steps:

Do your research

  1. Learn about the welding industry, read industry news, listen to welding podcasts, and talk to welding instructors to understand the career path and determine if welding is the right fit for you.

Enroll in a vocational or postsecondary education program

  1. Consider starting your welding training in high school or pursuing a welding certificate, diploma, or associate's degree. Some employers may require these credentials.

Find an apprenticeship

  1. Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training and can be obtained through welding unions or companies offering on-the-job training programs.

Become a certified welder

  1. Consider pursuing certifications from the American Welding Society (AWS) to demonstrate your welding skills and qualifications. There are various certifications available for different types of welding.

Consider joining a union

  1. Welders have the option to join a union, which can provide training opportunities and job assignments.

Start your career

  1. Once you have completed your education, apprenticeship, and obtained certifications, you can start your career as a welder.

Exploring Welding Techniques

As you embark on your welding career, it's important to familiarize yourself with various welding techniques. Here is a table summarizing common welding processes:

Gas Metal Arc Welding (MIG)- A method that uses a consumable wire electrode and shielding gas to create strong welds.

Automotive, construction, manufacturing

Shielded-Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)-A technique that uses a flux-coated electrode and direct current to create welds.

Construction, maintenance, repair

Flux-Coated Arc Welding (FCAW)- Similar to MIG welding but uses a flux-coated electrode, eliminating the need for an external shielding gas.

Shipbuilding, structural steel fabrication

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG)- A precise technique that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode and inert gas to create high-quality welds.

Aerospace, automotive, artistry

Opportunities for Veterans in Welding

Veterans possess valuable skills and qualities that align well with careers in welding. The strong work ethic, decision-making skills, and sense of dedication gained from military service make veterans well-suited for the welding industry. For veterans looking to transition into a career in welding, there are special funding and training opportunities available.

Programs and initiatives tailored for veterans can help them receive the necessary training and skills to embark on a new career path in welding. These programs often provide financial assistance, counseling, and job placement services specifically designed for veterans. By leveraging their experience in the military, veterans can apply their skills and discipline to welding jobs in various industries.

Transitioning into a welding career offers veterans the chance to continue making a meaningful impact, utilizing their skills, and contributing to vital sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and infrastructure development. Welding offers stability, job security, and a rewarding career path for veterans looking for new opportunities.

Benefits of Welding Career Opportunities for Veterans:

  • Transferable skills from military service
  • Job security and stability
  • Potential for career advancement and specialization
  • Opportunities for personal and professional growth
  • Competitive salaries and benefits
  • Diverse range of industries to work in
  • Ability to apply military skills to welding jobs

Training Programs and Resources for Veterans:

Various training programs and resources are available to help veterans transition into a welding career. These programs provide comprehensive training in welding techniques, safety protocols, and industry-specific knowledge. Some resources that veterans can explore include:

  1. Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS): VETS offers various programs to assist veterans in their career transition, including apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training opportunities.
  2. Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program: The VR&E Program provides funding for eligible veterans to pursue education and vocational training, including welding programs.
  3. American Welding Society (AWS): The AWS offers resources, training courses, and certifications specifically tailored for veterans.

By taking advantage of these training programs and resources, veterans can acquire the necessary skills and certifications to start a successful career in welding.

Welding Career Paths for Veterans:

Within the welding industry, numerous career paths are available for veterans to pursue based on their skills, interests, and goals. Some potential career paths for veterans in welding include:

Welding Supervisor- Overseeing welding operations, managing teams, and ensuring quality control.

Welding Engineer- Designing welding processes, developing welding procedures, and providing technical expertise.

Welding Instructor- Teaching aspiring welders and sharing industry knowledge in vocational schools or training programs.

Welding Inspector- Ensuring welding quality and adherence to safety standards through inspections and testing.

Pipeline Welder- Specializing in welding pipelines for the oil, gas, and energy industries.

These are just a few examples of the diverse career paths available to veterans in the welding industry. With their unique skill set and dedication, veterans can find fulfilling and rewarding careers in welding.

Veterans possess valuable skills that align well with careers in welding.

Learning New Skills in Welding

To enhance your skills and stay updated with the latest industry trends, there are several resources available for learning new skills in welding. The American Welding Society (AWS) provides online courses, in-person seminars, and other learning opportunities for both students and instructors. These programs cover a range of topics, from foundational principles to advanced technological developments in welding.

Whether you're a beginner looking to build a strong foundation in welding or an experienced welder seeking to expand your expertise, AWS offers a comprehensive curriculum to meet your needs. Their online courses offer the flexibility to learn at your own pace, while their in-person seminars provide hands-on training and networking opportunities.

In addition to courses and seminars, AWS also provides how-to videos that offer step-by-step guidance on various welding techniques and tools. These videos are a valuable resource for visual learners who prefer a more interactive learning experience. You can watch and learn from industry experts as they demonstrate different welding processes and share their expertise.

If you're looking to advance your career and increase your earning potential, AWS offers professional certifications in various areas of welding. These certifications validate your skills and knowledge, making you a more competitive candidate in the job market. Whether you're interested in becoming a Certified Welder (CW) or a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), AWS has certification programs that can help you achieve your professional goals.

By taking advantage of the resources and opportunities provided by AWS, you can stay ahead of the curve in the welding industry and continue to develop your skills. Whether you're a student, an instructor, or a seasoned welder, AWS has the tools and resources you need to excel in your welding career.

Follow Your Passion in Welding

Welding goes beyond just a career - it can also be a passion and a hobby. If you have a genuine interest in welding and enjoy working with metal, you can explore personal projects and artistic endeavors. Welding allows you to create unique metal art, sculptures, furniture, and other creative pieces. Many welders also find fulfillment in using their skills to repair and restore vintage or antique items. Whether as a profession or a hobby, welding offers opportunities for self-expression and creativity.

"Welding allows me to turn my imagination into reality. It's not just about joining metal, but about bringing ideas to life through artistic creations. I find joy in the process of shaping metal and seeing my vision come to life." - Jane Smith, Welding Enthusiast

Benefits of Pursuing Welding as a Hobby

  • Opportunity for self-expression and creativity
  • Satisfaction of transforming raw materials into functional and artistic pieces
  • Flexibility to work on personal projects at your own pace
  • Chance to learn new welding techniques and expand your skills
  • Source of relaxation and stress relief

Realizing Artistic Creations through Welding

Welding opens up endless possibilities for artistic expression. From intricate sculptures to modern furniture designs, the artistry of welding showcases the beauty and versatility of metal. Whether you prefer abstract forms or precise and detailed craftsmanship, welding allows you to breathe life into your creative ideas. Through welding, you can create pieces that reflect your personal style and design preferences. Whether you are inspired by nature, modern architecture, or industrial aesthetics, welding allows you to bring your artistic vision to life.

Restoring and Repurposing with Welding

Welding skills also come in handy for repairing and restoring items with sentimental value. Vintage or antique items often require specialized welding techniques to preserve their structural integrity. By mastering these techniques, you can breathe new life into worn-out pieces, ensuring their longevity and continued enjoyment.

Some common restoration projects that can be accomplished through welding include:

  • Repairing antique vehicles
  • Restoring metal furniture
  • Reviving metal tools and implements
  • Refurbishing vintage appliances

With your welding expertise, you can transform forgotten treasures into cherished heirlooms, gaining immense satisfaction from preserving history and showcasing your craftsmanship.

Joining the American Welding Society (AWS)

Joining the American Welding Society (AWS) provides numerous benefits for welders. As a member, you can access valuable resources and take advantage of the various opportunities offered by AWS.

Access to AWS Resources

As an AWS member, you gain access to a wide range of resources that can help you enhance your skills and stay updated with the latest advancements in the welding industry. AWS provides industry magazines, mentorship programs, discounted courses, and texts that offer valuable insights and knowledge.

Scholarships and Grants

If you're a student or professional seeking additional support for your welding education, AWS offers scholarships and grants to help you pursue your goals. These financial resources can alleviate the burden of educational expenses and enable you to focus on honing your skills.

Networking and Community

Membership in AWS provides invaluable networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with fellow welders, industry professionals, and experts. Being part of the welding community can expand your professional network, open doors to new collaborations, and offer a platform for sharing experiences and knowledge.

Certification Programs

AWS offers certification programs that validate your welding expertise and enhance your professional credibility. By obtaining certifications through AWS, you can demonstrate your skills and qualifications, making yourself more competitive in the job market and increasing your career prospects.

By joining the American Welding Society (AWS), you can tap into a wealth of resources, gain access to networking opportunities, and take your welding career to new heights. Stay updated with the latest industry trends, expand your professional network, and enhance your skills by becoming a member of AWS.


Starting a career in welding opens up a world of opportunities for growth and job satisfaction. By acquiring the right training, certifications, and experience, you can establish a successful career in this high-demand industry. Welding offers a diverse range of career paths, from entry-level positions to advanced roles in welding engineering, instruction, inspection, and management.

Staying updated with industry trends and continuously improving your skills is key to enhancing your job prospects and increasing your earning potential. The welding industry is constantly evolving, and by keeping yourself informed about the latest advancements and techniques, you can stay ahead of the competition.

Whether you choose welding as a lifelong profession or pursue it as a personal passion, welding provides the satisfaction of working with your hands and creating something meaningful. As you embark on your welding career, remember to embrace lifelong learning and never stop honing your skills. With dedication and determination, you can forge a successful and fulfilling path in the world of welding.