Art is up to interpretation. What may be art to one person makes another person scratch at their heads; however, there is no doubt that fields like welding have a particular art to it. Some type of beauty is in most manufacturing fields. Welding is fascinating because welders can use their skills to create unique art. Welders can use their skills to build stairs, railings, and other everyday objects. Some artists use their welding skills as a day job to support their art.
How to become a certified welder in California? You need to have basic math skills, fundamental scientific understanding of how welding works, experience, and to pass a certification test. In addition to the American Welding Society Certified Welder certification, California, and certain cities, have their certification test that you need to pass.
It is a misconception that you need to go to a four-year school to get a good, high paying job. Another misunderstanding is that welding is a dying trade. It is okay that not everyone’s destiny is to be a doctor, lawyer, or Ph.D. For some, technical fields come naturally to them when they try them out. We need those who understand how to take apart an engine or how to fuse piping. Like becoming a doctor or a lawyer, the start of becoming a welder is in high school.
Earn a high school diploma
You will be hard-pressed to find a lucrative career where you don’t need at least a high school diploma. Many high schools offer technical classes like auto shop and welding.
If you want to become a welder, you should take every course provided to learn the basic skills. These courses will also help you determine if you’re going to pursue this career. While in high school, you can develop the skills needed to be a successful welder. Welders skills include:
- Enjoying working with your hands
- Manual dexterity / steadfast hands
- Physically Fit
- Attention to detail
- Depth perception & spatial orientation
- Excellent Vision
- Hand-eye coordination
- Communication skills
- Problem Solving
There are technical high schools that let students focus on the career that they are going to pursue after graduation. It would be beneficial to find a technical school in your area that has welding. Having this experience can give you an edge after graduation when applying for apprenticeships.
Learn more about: Are Welding Classes Hard? What Should You Expect?
Specialized schools will have teachers that are in the field and will provide you with the right courses to take to pursue your career. Welding needs algebra and geometry for when you are measuring and calculating in real life.
Earn a certificate or degree in welding
There are welding programs that last between six and eighteen months. The costs vary from $3500 to $20K. The advantage is that you get face-to-face classes to practice your craft. Some schools offer a Welding Technology Associate Degree.
These programs can cost anywhere from $6K to $55K. Associate Degree programs are two years, and you get the face-to-face classes to practice your craft. You can find some colleges and universities that offer Welding Engineering Bachelor Degrees. The bachelor programs are four years and will provide the face-to-face classes.
Not every high school graduate interested in welding is going to go for their bachelor’s degree. There are pros and cons to each path, and only you can answer which one is best for you. There are many schools throughout California where you can earn your associate or bachelor’s degree. There are also trade schools with programs that can get you ready for your certificate testing in less time.
Some questions to consider might be: How much experience do I have already? How is my welding knowledge? What do I know already? Do I have real-life experience or only classroom experience? What career opportunities do I want vs. what my experience will get me? Do I have experience in complicated welding projects?
Get accepted into an apprenticeship
Being an apprentice is as old as time. For those who could not afford an education gained a career by apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are excellent ways to gain knowledge and experience. You work closely with an expert in the field and will provide best practices, tricks of the trade, and real-life experience.
In school, you gain experience in a controlled environment. Apprenticeships give you the knowledge that is not controlled and teaches you about fixing problems on the spot.
The training can get your foot in the door of a company to possibly hire you later. You start earning money as a welder while still learning. The learning is applied instead of theoretical.
Education, while doing, is easier for some to comprehend. Instead of focusing on general academics, the focus is on what you will be doing regularly. Most importantly, you will begin to build a foundation to build on as your progress in your career.
Earn a welding certification
You have the education; you have the experience, now you need the certificate. The certification validates your knowledge and skill level when you apply to jobs. The American Welding Society (AWS) standardizes all welding certifications. The first step is to get your Certified Welder (CW) certification.
This certification has no prior requirements, costs $35, and taken at an accredited testing facility. All certificates beyond CW, require some kind of level of education, work experience, and fee. You can become a member of the AWS, and your additional certificates can get discounted. Beyond the CW certification, you can obtain:
- Certified Welding Inspector
- Senior Certified Welding Inspector
- Certified Welding Educator
- Certified Welding Sales Representative
Certificates, training, experience, and education are all aces in your pocket when negotiating salary. When you have experience with credentials, you are more likely to get a higher salary.
The certificates show that you know what you are doing. Hence, employers are more apt to give you a higher pay since you have proven yourself with your certificate and experience combined.
Welding certification in California
In California, welders earn, on average, $43,070, which is approximately $3K higher than the national average. With higher certificates and experience, welders can make an even higher salary. It can take as little as six months to become a practicing welder in California.
To become a certified welder in California, you need:
- 18 years old or older
- Valid drivers license or the USA issued ID
- Have a valid SS# or ITIN#
- Not currently on probation or parole
To become a welder, you need to enter into an apprenticeship and or six-month certificate program. You need to submit the completed application and your maintenance of the welder certificate. The California certification test has tests for different standards, and you can choose which standard you are testing.
- The QC7 is the standard for the AWS CW certification exam.
- The QC7, supplement C, welder performance qualification sheet metal test.
- The QC&, supplement F, chemical plant, and petroleum refinery piping.
- The QC7, supplement G, AWS performance qualification test (generic supplement).
Once you complete the written exam from one of the QC7 choices, you need to complete the welder performance qualification test.
Depending on the city in which you would like to become a welder in California, there may be additional testing and requirements. For example, The City of Los Angeles requires its own written and practical exam. In addition to their exams, you need to submit:
- Current 2X2 Passport style photo
- Pay $54.50 fee
- Pass written exam with at least 70%
- Pass performance test