Southside TN 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. Employment opportunities and pay depend on the welding skills you have mastered and whether you are willing to travel. Experienced welders can find work all over the world. Welding opportunities can be found on construction projects, oil pipelines, railway projects, and building ships. It is a physically demanding profession that often requires lifting heavy tools and working in cramped conditions. Careful attention to safety is a critical component of the trade. Most welder training programs require you to have your high school diploma or equivalent to enroll. High school or evening adult classes in welding and metalwork are a good foundation if they are available.
Southside Tennessee has both diploma and associate degree welding programs available. Basic training can be completed in a few weeks, while a comprehensive welding diploma program takes 4-9 months. A 2-year associate degree, called an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in welding technology will prepare you for work in the welding and metal fabrication industries. Associate degrees require additional general education courses like writing, speaking, math, and social sciences. In addition to having basic welding skills and a strong understanding of the science and theory of welding, associate degree holders can pursue professions in welding industry management, equipment and supply sales, and vocational schools. Some enter the trade by becoming an apprentice welder. Apprentice welders must work for more years in an entry-level job than those with welding diplomas or associate degrees. Welders that complete basic training before beginning to work often return to school to train for more advanced certifications. Completing the training and experience requirements to become a journeyman welder can take from 4-15 years.
Employers will look at your qualifications and experience first, but in many cases will also require you to pass a test specific to the work to be done. There are four major welding processes, including shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), also commonly known as stick welding. Each certificate is further specialized based on the type of metal, shape, type of weld, and the position of the welder relative to the work, such as overhead and obstructed view.
Technology and the needs of the welding industry have also created a number of highly-specialized jobs with good wages. 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.
Welders are needed in virtually every industry from automobile repair to shipbuilding and pipeline construction to aerospace. Skilled welders have their pick of industries and location depending on the type of work they like to do, where they want to live and how much they would like to earn. 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!