How to Become a Professional Welder in 5 Clear Steps (And Why You Should!)

welder welding metal pieces

Is your goal to become a professional welder one day?

There are more than 400,000 welding jobs throughout the country right now. And those who fill them make more than $40,000 a year on average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One of the great things about becoming a professional welder is that you don't need a college degree to do it. You can enter the wide world of welding with little more than a high school degree and a dream.

But you do need to follow certain steps to reach your goal and spend your working days welding.

If you're interested in welding for a living, start following those steps today. Here is how to become a professional welder in 5 clear steps.

Step 1: Know What It Takes to Become a Welder

The first thing you'll want to do before you start training to become a professional welder is to learn about the skills and attributes you're going to need to be successful. The last thing you want to do is dive headfirst into welding without considering what it takes to weld on the professional level.

Professional welders need to be both physically and mentally strong. They also need to have solid hand-eye coordination and have to be able to sit and focus on one task for an extended period of time.

If you're known for being clumsy and scatterbrained and don't have the capacity to sit still for more than five minutes, welding might not be for you.

Additionally, you'll need to be prepared for some of the dangers that can come along with working as a professional welder. You'll often be around hot metal and fumes, which could put you at risk if you're not careful.

Make sure you're OK with all of the things listed here before you move forward with welding.

Step 2: Enroll in a Welding Training Program

Does everything listed in Step 1 sound good to you? If so, then you're ready to take the next step and enroll yourself in a welding training program.

There are lots of different ways you can train to become a welder. There are some community colleges that offer courses. There are also welding specific schools scattered across the country.

No matter which route you decide to take, make sure you feel 100 percent comfortable with the welding school you choose. Ideally, the school should give you the education you need and help move you along to Step 3 of the process.

Step 3: Serve as an Apprentice for a Professional Welder

There is only so much you can learn about working as a welder in the classroom. At some point, you're going to need to get out into the world and gain some real-world experience from someone who has worked in the field for a long time.

Your best bet is to find an apprenticeship program and work under an established welder. Most apprenticeships run for about three years and allow you to learn all there is to know about welding professionally.

While working alongside a professional welder, you'll learn about the different kinds of welding, including metal inert gas welding, shielded metal-arc welding, tungsten inert gas welding, gas tungsten-arc welding, and more.

You'll also get to do welding for yourself and find out the tips and techniques you'll need to do it properly.

Working as an apprentice is arguably the most important step of all. It'll teach you everything you need to know to work on your own and allow you to ask questions to someone who knows what they're talking about.

After you work as an apprentice, you'll have a good chance of landing a job at the company at which you apprenticed. If nothing else, you'll establish connections in the industry and give yourself a good place to start when you start hunting for jobs later.

Step 4: Obtain the Proper Welding Certifications

In addition to completing an apprentice, you'll also be responsible for obtaining the proper welding certifications to weld professionally.

The certifications that you'll need vary depending on where you live and what kind of welding you want to do. But in general, you'll need at least an American Welding Society certification to work as a welder.

To get this certification, you'll be required to take a written test either every six months or once a year, and you'll need to keep your certification updated over the years.

You may also choose to obtain more advanced welding certification if you want. For example, you can get a Welding Engineer AWS Certification if you decide to become a welding engineer.

Step 5: Apply for Welding Jobs

Once you work your way through all of the other steps, there's only one thing left to do: Apply to work as a official professional welder!

You can find welding jobs in many different industries, depending on what you're interested in most. As long as you have an apprenticeship and certification tucked under your belt, you shouldn't have any trouble at all finding a job.

You can also choose to pick up freelance welding jobs on the side. There are all kinds of companies looking for welders to perform one-off jobs for them. They're often willing to pay top dollar for welding services from a professional.

Just make sure you continue to keep your certification up to date once you begin working. It'll ensure you don't run into any potential pitfalls as you get your career up and going.

Why You Should Become a Professional Welder

You'll have a long and rewarding career when you work as a professional welder.

You'll make a good salary, have opportunities to pick up new skills all the time, and be able to pass on what you know to an up-and-coming apprentice in the future.

You'll also open up all kinds of new opportunities for yourself once you work in the welding industry for 15 or 20 years. You might even decide to open your own welding company one day!

Read our blog to learn more about launching a new career and preparing yourself to work at a rewarding job.


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