Welding is simply an excellent career choice to consider, and if you enjoy working with your hands and love the idea of traveling for work, welding may just be the career for you. Welding jobs are in high demand across the country and the pay is great. However, choosing a career path is a big decision and can be overwhelming. Let’s start with the basics.
Are welding classes hard? Welding classes aren’t necessarily hard, especially if you have the desire, drive, and commitment to becoming successful in the field. Skills future welders should possess are mathematical skills, excellent communication skills, and attention to detail, among other things.
Keep reading to better understand what you can expect from welding classes, tips for finding a welding school, the benefits of becoming a welder, and more.
Are Welding Classes Hard?
Welders help build and repair all kinds of things, so if you enjoy building and creating, you already possess two very important characteristics of a successful welder. Learning to weld is a gradual process that requires time, effort, and dedication.
Related Reading: How Long Does it Take to Learn Welding?
If you’re concerned about welding classes being hard, just know that as long as you have the passion to pursue this career, you’ll learn everything you need to know from trained professionals who have been in the industry for a long time. To be successful throughout your education, show up to class and be open to all the things your teachers are telling you.
Skills Needed to Become a Welder
If you’re considering becoming a welder, you may be wondering what skills a person should possess that will help them become successful in the field. Here are a few of those skills:
- Attention to detail. As a welder, you’ll be assigned tasks, such as cutting and trimming metal, following directions, and inspecting parts and materials, all while adhering to safety standards. Welders often work in dangerous environments. It’s important that you are able to multitask successfully, safely, and accurately.
Welders will also offer opinions regarding equipment such as what works, what doesn’t, and why. So, once again, it’s important you are able to both work and notice details about how your equipment is performing.
- Math skills. Calculating dimensions, reading blueprints, interpreting sketches, cutting and trimming metal to specific dimensions, and understanding diagrams are all things welders are required to do. If you enjoy math, welding is a great career opportunity for you.
- Physical skills. As a welder, you’ll be lifting, bending, and stooping over possibly large objects for long periods of time. Steady hands are a must as you’ll be holding equipment for long periods of time too. Hand-eye coordination, lifting a decent amount of weight, and close vision are all physical skills a welder should possess.
- There are also many skills a welder will need to possess that aren’t physical such as documentation skills, taking inventory, being organized, the ability to plan projects, time management, the ability to work as part of a team as well as independently and great communication skills. If these aren’t skills you possess yet, consider working on these skills while you’re in school so they can be added to your resume once you begin job searching.
- Willingness to learn new technology. Technology in the field changes frequently; aside from learning how to use the current technology, you will also need to possess the ability and willingness to learn about new equipment and ever-changing technology.
What to Expect in a Welding Class
Attending welding classes is a great decision to make if you possess the skill set and a great career option that could open a number of doors for you in the future.
Welding school programs are designed to teach you the skills you need to become a successful welder using both reading material and tests, as well as a great deal of hands-on experience.
One of the biggest benefits of welding school is that all your education will focus on your craft, so many people find these programs much easier to stick with as opposed to a traditional college setting.
If you find yourself wondering what welding courses entail, here is a rundown of what you can expect to learn.
- As you begin welding school, you’ll learn all about safety, personal protective equipment, and safety precautions, as well as welding basics including power voltages, metals, consumables, and reading and interpreting blueprints and welding symbols.
- Welding classes will teach you a number of theories and practices including welding plates and pipes in various positions. A great program will be sure to teach you to weld pipes and plates in a number of otherwise awkward positions rather than just in convenient positions, as this skill will be more helpful once you’re working in the field.
- In welding, there are four major processes to learn: SMAW (shielded metal arc welding), GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding), GMAW (gas metal arc welding), and Fluxcore Arc Welding, and a good program will teach you all four.
- If you’re interested in one day pursuing a more senior position in welding, you may want to consider learning skills such as technical writing, service management, and/or theory about a specific industry.
Attending welding classes is much more hands-on than a lot of majors as you will spend a good portion of your time perfecting your skill of the craft. You’ll begin by studying in the classroom, then you’ll move to the workshop where you’ll begin using the welding equipment. Attendance is vital when learning a trade as you move through the course and learn information quickly.
Grading is based on test scores you receive while studying the book, then once you move to the lab you’ll be graded using the American Welding Society standards for appearance, completion, and how well you followed the instructions.
The American Welding Society website is a great source for all kinds of information. Here you can find out about the many different certifications you can receive, welding scholarships that are available, browse the AWS bookstore, become a member of the American Welding Society, and search for jobs near you.
Finding a Welding School
As you begin your search for the perfect welding school, it may feel overwhelming at first; here are a few tips to help you get started as you begin searching for a welding school to attend:
- If you know any welders, talk to them as they will be some of your best resources. Ask them about the school they attended, what they liked, what they didn’t like, and if they would recommend the school they attended to those looking into pursuing welding. Ask what opportunities their school offered during their education and how their school helped them be better prepared for their future career.
- Talk to local companies about what schools they prefer to hire from and why. Ask them what they look for on resumes and the skills that are most important to them. This is also a great way to make a good first impression with potential future employers.
Related reading: How to Become a Welder in Texas and How long does it Take?
- Begin requesting information from schools you’re interested in; consider the location, prices, and requirements.
- Once you’ve chosen a school or narrowed it down to a few schools, contact admissions and ask about enrollment, financial aid, and what type of certifications they offer.
Related reading: How to Become a Certified Welder in Pennsylvania?
- Tour the school or schools you’re considering. This will be your chance to see the workshop you could be working in, the equipment you’ll be using, and you may get the chance to talk to current students and/or teachers.
If you get the opportunity to talk to students, ask what they like and dislike about their courses, ask about their future goals, and how they think the education they’re receiving will help them achieve their goals.
If you get the opportunity to talk to teachers, ask about the curriculum and how it will prepare you to reach your goals in the field.
The American Welding Society offers a tool on their website that gives you the ability to search for welding schools near you just by entering a few details such as your zip code and the radius you’re willing to travel. You can check out the Welding School Locator here.
Making the Most of Welding School
A career in welding has a lot to offer – endless opportunities for advancement, a great salary, and the opportunity to travel. As you begin your education to become a successful welder, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make the most of your time in school.
- While you’re still in school, work on or work to perfect certain skills you otherwise don’t get the opportunity to work on in the workshop such as great communication skills, staying organized, and/or the ability to take the lead and plan projects. These are often referred to as “soft skills” that come highly preferred by hiring managers.
- Look for opportunities to be a part of welding competitions. These will not only be a great opportunity for you to show off your skills but to also receive some constructive criticism that will help you perfect your craft before entering the field. Welding competitions are a great way to meet other welders and listing competitions you’ve been a part of look great on a resume.
- If you’re not feeling super prepared for future interviews or that your resume could use some work, taking advantage of the career services at your school. Not only will they help prepare you for future interviews and polish up your resume, but they’re a great resource for job openings as well.
Are Welding Classes Worth It?
Here are a few of the major benefits associated with becoming a welder:
- Job security. Many industries need welders from architecture and agriculture to mining and construction. No matter where you live or if you prefer to travel for work, there will be opportunities in the field for you.
Before you continue reading, here is an article we wrote about the Advantages of Being a Welder >>Salary, Working Hours | Worklife Balance
- Various educational pathways. While many careers have one pathway to achieve your ultimate goal, welding has a few options available to choose from. For instance, many high schools now offer a vocational program where you can begin training. You may also choose to attend a technical college. There is also the option of becoming a welder through on the job training.
- The pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median pay for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers in 2019 was $42,490/year, which is roughly $20.43/hours. The BLS also reported that the top industries for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers were specialty trade contracts, followed by repair and maintenance, then manufacturing. (Source)
Learn More About The Highest Paying Welding Jobs – Here, you can find an article from our website Do Welders Make Good Money? | Highest Paying Welding Jobs
Overtime is also very common in this industry. In the right field with the right skill set, it’s not unheard of for a welder to be making a six-figure salary.
What You Need for Welding School
School supplies look a little different for welding school. Here are a few things you can plan on needing for class:
- Safety glasses. Safety glasses will protect your eyes from sparks and debris.
- Auto-darkening welding helmet. This type of helmet will not only protect the rest of your head from sparks and debris, but it will also protect your eyes from the fluorescent welding spark.
- A 4 1/2 inch or 6-inch angle grinder, as well as various discs for your grinder.
- Wire cutters. You’ll use wire cutters often to snip the ends of welding wire as you work.
- Chipping hammer. A chipping hammer will be used to remove welding slag and spatter from welds.
- Wire brush. A wire brush will be used often as you work to keep your area free of debris as you work.
- Gloves. TIG welding gloves are thin and flexible, but also fire-resistant. Gauntlet gloves offer free wrist movement nad firm finger pockets.
- A jacket. You’ll need a thick jacket that is fire resistant.
- Earplugs. Welding can be loud and also requires a certain amount of attention as you work. Earplugs can help drown out noises and prevent damage to the welder’s ears.
- MIG pliers. You’ll use thises pliers for a number of things including cutting burned wire, removing the contact tip from the gun, and removing the gun gas diffuser among other things.
- Lastly, a bag to carry everything in. Consider an old backpack or even a 5-gallon bucket.
As you learn and begin to understand the field better, you’ll figure out what other tools you need and want, but these are some essentials that will get you started.
Where to Buy
If you live somewhere that has a local store that sells welding equipment, shopping local is going to be your best bet so you can talk to employees that know the merchandise best and so you can try on protective gear and ensure a good fit.
If shopping local isn’t an option for you, no worries. There are plenty of options for buying online. Here are a few places to consider as you begin buying the things you need.
- Welder Supply. Welder Supply offers all kinds of tools and equipment needed to begin your career, as well as the option to buy used.
Welding is an excellent career path to consider and as long as you have the drive and passion for the craft, classes won’t get the best of you.
There are a few skills future employers look for in potential employees such as candidates with an eye for detail, mathematical skills, willingness to learn, and stay up to date on technology and more.
While attending welding school you can expect to learn the basics of safety, voltages, and blueprints, as well as all four major welding processes. If you’re interested in one day pursuing a senior welding position, you can opt to learn the skills necessary to achieve those goals as well.
The best way to find the right welding school for you is to get out and talk to people in the field as well as utilizing the American Welding Society’s tool that gives you the ability to locate schools near you.
Make the most of your education and stand out to future employers by honing on on certain skills you may be lacking, actively look for opportunities to take part in welding competitions, and utilize career services offered by your school.
A few benefits of becoming a welder include a number of different educational pathways with the opportunity to choose the one that suits you best, job security, and a good income. Welding is an excellent career path to take that will be filled with all kinds of different opportunities. Now that you know a little more about what you can expect, it’s time to take the steps to start your journey to becoming a welder!