Columbia SD 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. Two-year associate degree programs include additional general education classes, as well as extensive theory practical training in welding. Classes in writing, English, sociology, and applied math are included in the program. Associate degrees prepare students for all types of industrial welding, plus possible careers in management, sales, and vocational training. Welders can also enter the field as apprentices and learn while working. Apprentice welders may work for relatively low wages for many years before gaining enough experience to become fully certified. In many cases welders will secure work after receiving basic training and then return from time to time to complete their instruction in additional processes and specialized applications. Becoming a certified journeyman welder can take from 4-15 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. Certifications cover the most common welding processes including shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) and others, known as mig, tig, and flux core. 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.
Within the welding industry there are also many specialized jobs. Robotic welding machine operators are becoming increasingly common in pipeline and building construction. Certified welding inspectors that use x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetic sensors to inspect welds are also in high demand.
Welders are needed in virtually every industry from automobile repair to shipbuilding and pipeline construction to aerospace. It is one of the few jobs where a skilled tradesman can earn on par with highly respected professions. Not many careers are as fulfilling and rewarding as professional welding, it may just be the job for you!