Welding is a skill-based job that requires precision, excellent eye-hand coordination, and a good eye for detail. Who’s got that better than a woman?
Can females be welders? Yes, women can be welders. Like many other professions in the trade, the welding industry is dominated by men. However, this is slowly changing. If you are thinking of becoming a female welder, you have come to the right place!
Only 5% of America’s welders are female. There’s a window to increase that percentage. Here’s how.
Increased Demand Equals New Opportunities
You might be surprised that the average age for welders is 55 among a rough estimate of 450,000 welders in the U.S., according to the American Welding Society (AWS).
In turn, this results in a large number of retirees and a constantly increasing demand for the job. It also means that you can pursue the job at any age, making it a convenient career not only to pursue but also to shift to midlife.
Gender norms aside, the struggle to be a female welder softens a bit, because manufacturers and traders are in a pressing need for workers. They won’t say no to a skilled worker, because she’s a female. Small wins, but still wins!
It’s Not New – Female Welders Since World War ||
The famous Rosie the Riveter has been a female empowerment icon since forever. The badass yet glamorous working lady has set standards high for females. During the war, in 1940, there was a noticeable labor shortage that was filled by women. As always, women were there to serve, and by 1944, 37% of adult females were employed.
female welder – Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II >> Check out the video below:
Aviation, naval, manufacturing, you name it. Women were working in every sector, even those who were condemned prohibited or “tough” for women. So, joining the workforce as a female isn’t new.
I Want to Become a Welder – Now What?
A quick -preferably thorough- google search will yield tens of results for welding schools that offer training programs everywhere across the U.S. The next logical question would be, “How do I pay for those?”
Luckily, the AWS offers a multitude of scholarships that cover your tuition fees, whether its continuing education or professional development. All that’s left for you now is to find a suitable opportunity.
Here, we’ll be listing some of the most famous welding training programs that are either dedicated to women only or regular ones with prominent female graduates.
Women Who Weld is an NGO that targets the gender imbalance in the welding workforce by trying to offer training programs to women who want to pursue their welding careers.
They offer week-long intensive classes all year round, in the hope that their participants will be eligible to land full-time jobs after graduation.
The cherry on top? Their programs are mostly low cost.
Founded by two welders in 1949 to meet the demand of highly skilled tradespeople in the welding industry. Tulsa Welding School, better known as TWS, has been educating welders since then.
TWS pays great attention to women who’re interested in joining the field, and they highly encourage them to do so. It’d be such a nice opportunity to learn welding in such a healthy, supportive environment that thinks highly of women.
HIWT is in Troy, OH, but it offers online courses. It’s an NGO dedicated to offering welding training that covers the latest welding technologies and techniques.
It boasts in offering training in over 47 qualifications, and it takes between 9 months to 1 year to finish their training programs, according to them.
Related reading: How To Start and Grow A Welding Business In 11 Steps
Getting Ready for the Welding Career – Step by Step
Now that you have an idea of where to get your welding education, you need to start acting on your to-do list to become a professional welder. Here, we’ll be breaking it up to you into actionable steps.
1. Do Some Research
Welding is an interesting job that comes with a decent benefits package. Yet, it’s demanding, a bit dangerous, and requires plenty of skills. You need to ask yourself, “Where do I stand from all that?”
The stereotypical picture of a welder is one where he/she is covered in safety equipment; welding helmets, eye protection, gloves, sleeves, aprons, safety boots, and respirators even. The list goes on. This list is not meant to scare you, but to put things into perspective. You need to make sure you’re comfortable with wearing all that gear all day long in your workplace.
Besides, you need to make sure that you’re physically fit to pursue such a job. Especially when it comes to respiratory and lung diseases. A full checkup and a thorough consultation with your physician would be of immense help here.
2. Learn First, Experience Second
A common misconception about skill-based professions is that they don’t need formal education. Painters paint, musicians play, carpenters build stuff, and welders weld. What’s to learn about that?
In all honesty, this is one dumb misconception. First, learning something in a structured way from experienced people is different from just throwing yourself into the thing and hoping you’d survive. Moreover, getting the proper education at a community college or a local school is what sets apart a professional from a fraud. You definitely don’t want to be the second.
Don’t get us wrong, the experience is essential, but we think it comes second to learning. You build on your knowledge with experience. You apply what you learn, not the other way round.
3. Explore and Pick a Discipline
Most jobs require only one or two of these. You won’t be able to master them all, after all. While you’re learning, you’ll get to explore them. We advise you to carry out some thorough research and search for jobs to see if the job you’re targeting requires a special skill or welding type. That way, you’ll be able to focus your efforts on something fruitful.
4. Get Some Experience
Now that you’re educated, and you chose a discipline. It’s time for practice. Try to get your hands dirty whenever you can. Responsibly, of course!
The best way to apply what you learned and gain experience is through welding apprenticeships. Companies also offer fulltime positions to successful apprentices often, so you’ve got an opportunity to prove yourself to them, and the job is yours.
5. Earn a Certificate
Well, we know you can be a good welder with no certificate, but what about being both well-trained and certified?
Not all people care about certificates, that’s correct, but there are some who do, and you don’t want to lose potential clients. Do you?
Related reading: The Top 10 Types of Welding Certification
We’ve established that you’ll inevitably face gender discrimination. One way to combat that is to prove that you’re competent, through your work and official recognition. Aka certificates. The AWS provides a bunch of respectful certification.
The most commonly pursued credential is the CW (Certified Welder) from the AWS. You’ll have to undergo some tests and a practical exam to earn it. Then, there are tens of other advanced certificates from AWS that you find on their official website. Needless to say, the higher the certificate, the better.
What Skills Do I Need to Become a Welder?
- Ability to read blueprints
- Physically fit for the job
- Attention to detail
- Steady hands
- Excellent eye-hand coordination
- Keen eye on safety
Benefits of a Welding Career for Women
Why would you choose welding as a career? Here are some answers.
Relatively Good Salary
Compared to other female-dominated careers, welding offers higher than average salaries, with an average of around $40,000 annually.
I recently wrote an article about Female Welders Salary, have a look at it.
Low Education Duration
All you need to become a welder is a high school diploma plus 6 months. Afterward, you can sign up for an apprenticeship program and kickstart your welding career. So, you won’t waste much money nor effort to become one.
Related reading: How Long Does It Take To Learn Welding?
A Wide Variety of Projects
We’ve said it many times, and we’ll say it again, welders are always in high demand. The nature of their job makes them needed in multiple industries. This means that you, as a welder, get to choose the industry you like the most to work for.
There are welding opportunities in the automobile industry, aviation, naval, manufacturing, or machine maintenance in factories. You choose!
Part of a Rising Infrastructure
The U.S is planning tons of projects for its infrastructure. 22,000 new jobs will emerge between 2016 and 2026 in the infrastructure sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You know what this means, right? More job opportunities for welders!
Related reading: Advantages of Being a Welder, Salary, Work-Life balance
The act of joining two pieces of metal together-better known as “welding” can be done by males and females. You just need to be prepared to learn some stuff, get your hands dirty in training, and you’re ready.
Employers are always looking for skilled workers, after all. It’ll take some time and effort for you to be a skilled welder, but once you’re there, you’ll be enjoying a non-ending stream of jobs!