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Need a New Career? How to Become a Welder

Aug 17, 2007
Anyone looking for a blue-collar career using their hands might be interested in learning more about welding. Many apprenticeship programs will accept candidates who have completed tenth grade or higher at the high school level, although a high school diploma or GED is preferred. The most important physical skill is manual dexterity, physical health, and ability, along with analytical skills and technological savvy needed for operating a computer. So if this description doesn't fit you, it might be better to consider another occupation.

Key welding skills expected of those who complete advanced skills training include the ability to weld a variety of alloys in many kinds of positions. Additional skills include those who can weld ferrous and non-ferrous materials on pipe and on plate. Many programs build within a three-tier system of training that begins with basics and moves on to specialized welding capabilities for a variety of worksite situations. Ongoing training may be expected, depending on the employer's need and job market conditions.

Those who want to become welders often begin by enrolling in an educational program. These programs featuring welding certificates are offered at many community colleges or regional campuses of state or private universities. The academic program provides preparation for welding by explaining theories and applications before putting equipment in the hands of beginners. To apply, you may need to provide your high school transcripts, a driver's license for identification, and possibly a birth certificate. Each institution's requirements may differ, so find out in advance what type of documentation you will need to bring with you to enroll. Upon completion of the program, you will receive a diploma or other type of skills certification document. Hold on to this, as you may need to show it to your employer later. Many companies frame and mount their employees' certifications and subsequent awards.

After successfully completing a program of instruction, you will be able to look for a company that sponsors an apprenticeship program. If you get hired, you can work with professional welders to learn how to actually perform welding jobs, working with many kinds of projects, materials, and positions. You may need to work a certain amount of time, like so many months, in order to complete your training and become a certified welder (CW). When you earn your credentials, you may choose to stay with your present company or search for employment with other firms.

As your skills increase, so will your pay and the opportunity for full-time employment. Some companies will pay for welders to participate in training seminars or workshops in town or out of state. These can take anywhere from part of a day to a week or longer, and the company usually pays all the expenses for an employee to attend, including registration, motel, and travel costs. As you earn more certifications, you will become even more employable, which can lead to increased pay and benefits in the future.

If you are looking for an exciting career with potential to grow, consider welding for your long-term job choice.
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