Chesapeake West Virginia has several excellent schools offering welding certification classes. The basic training can be completed in just a few weeks and then a welder can start working. Successful prospects must be very detail-oriented and good at building things with their hands. While entry level welders and apprentices may only earn entry-level salaries, highly skilled welders at isolated job sites may be paid much more. Welding is one of the few jobs where skilled tradesmen can earn a very respectable living. The amount you earn depends largely on the skills you have mastered and your willingness to work in isolated areas and under difficult conditions. Skilled welders can find work all over the world and many travel extensively. A wide range of industries including ship building, pipelines, railways, and commercial construction all employ a large number of welders. Welding often involves working in confined spaces, carrying heavy tools and requires good physical fitness. Safety is very important in every type of welding job. A high school diploma, GED or equivalent education, or experience are normally required to enroll in a welder training program. If your high school offers metalwork or welding classes, these are excellent courses to prepare you for a welding diploma program or associates degree.
There are several different welding school programs to choose from. Basic industrial welding techniques can be learned in as little as a few weeks, while comprehensive welding diploma courses can take from 4-9 months. The Associate of Applied Science(A.A.S.) degree in welding requires two years of classroom work and practical training in all welding processes. The associate degree includes general education classes in applied math, social sciences, and writing. Associate degree holders have a strong understanding of welding science and theory, as well as skills to pursue industry jobs in management, sales, and skills training. Apprentice welders can also work while they learn the skills to become certified. Apprentices are paid less than certified journeyman welders and must spend more years on the job than those with diplomas or degrees before becoming certified. Many welders that begin working after completing their basic training return to school to earn additional certifications and qualify for higher-paying jobs. Becoming a certified journeyman welder can take from 4 to 15 years.
There are hundreds of specialized welding certificate tests used by employers to select applicants able to perform the specific skills needed for the job. Certification is specific to one of the four welding processes, such as shielded metal arc welding(SMAW), commonly called stick welding. For each process there are certifications based on the shape and type of metal, weld type, and the position the welder is in while completing the weld.
There are also several specialized fields in welding with opportunities for high-paying careers. Robotic welding machine operators are becoming increasingly common in pipeline and building construction. Non-destructive welding inspectors use x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetic sensors to inspect welds.
Major industries from bridge and high-rise construction to motorsports, military support, and ship-building are in constant need of qualified welders. It is one of the few jobs where a skilled tradesman can earn on par with highly respected professions. A professional career in this industry will allow you to travel, all the while earning a solid income; not many jobs can compete with that!