Welder training programs are available at several University Place Washington area vocational schools. Becoming a welder is a popular choice because the basic training necessary to start earning a living can be completed in just a few weeks. People that enjoy building things, have steady hands, and pay attention to details make good welders. Welders can earn their living based on their skills and location. Welders are some of the few skilled tradesmen that can earn as much money as other very respectable professions. 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.
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. A 2-year associate degree in welding technology will prepare graduates for a wide range of industrial welding jobs. Associate degrees include classes in writing, math, and social sciences. Graduates with an associate degree have a good foundation in all welding processes, as well as skills to pursue industry-specific jobs in management, sales, and training. People interested in learning to be a welder can also start as an apprentice and learn while working. Apprentice welders earn less than journeyman welders, and require more years of working as an apprentice than those with a welding diploma or associates degree before being certified as a journeyman. Experienced welders who have already received their basic training often return to school for short periods to gain additional skills and become certified for higher paying jobs. Becoming a journeyman can take from 4-15 years.
Large employers in the welding industry will normally require applicants to pass a skill certification test specific to the work to be done. Certification is specific to one of the four welding processes, such as shielded metal arc welding(SMAW), commonly called stick welding. Using a specific process, welders are tested on their ability to complete a weld in a specific situation defined by the type, size and shape of the metal, type of weld, and the position the welder is in.
There are also several specialized fields in welding with opportunities for high-paying careers. Robotic welding machine operator is a highly technical specialty that is becoming increasingly common in pipeline and structural welding. Non-destructive welding inspectors use x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetic sensors to inspect welds.
Welders are in high demand in a number of major industries including shipbuilding, pipeline construction, aerospace, and automotive repair. 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!