The previous post explored one-year certificates and two-year associate’s degrees, which are the most common credentials for entry-level welders and welding technicians. But there are other career tracks available for experienced and qualified welders, including as welding engineers, managers, and manufacturing personnel. In this post, we’ll look at the major types of four-year and graduate degrees in welding.
Bachelor’s Degree in Welding Engineering Technology
Welding engineering is a field that focuses on the design of assemblies that are welded together (called “weldments”) and the processes used in welding. The first two years of this bachelor’s degree program are usually identical to the associate’s degree program. In the third and fourth year, students take advanced science and math courses, as well as weldment design, welding engineering, advanced welding processes, project management, and quality control. Students may also need to take additional general education courses to satisfy the specific requirements of their school.
Bachelor’s Degree in Welding and Fabrication Engineering Technology
Degree programs in welding and fabrication engineering technology combine a welding education with courses in general manufacturing. In addition to basic welding processes and design, students learn about the manufacturing process and how to work as part of an industrial design team, solve manufacturing problems, and manage manufacturing projects. Students who graduate from these bachelor’s degree programs can find jobs as inspectors, managers, educators, consultants, and engineers.
Graduate Degrees in Welding Engineering
Graduate degrees in welding are for students who are already working as welders and want to advance their careers. Although there are not very many graduate programs currently available, as the demand grows for skilled engineers, additional programs will likely start to emerge. Graduate degrees are available at both the master’s and the doctoral level. These degree programs usually either focus on a specific area of welding engineering (processes, materials, design, etc.) or provide a broad-based education covering all areas. They are also generally research-based and require students to do an independent research project.
Almost all fields are moving toward a model of requiring more education, not less, and welding is no different. Hiring managers in most industries are starting to look for candidates with formal education credentials, and of course degrees are usually required to advance into management, consulting, and other high-ranking positions. Even if you are just starting to consider a career in welding, it isn’t too early to plan for the future. For example, if you decide on a one-year certificate program to start with, make sure the credits you earn can later be transferred into an associate’s degree program. Likewise, if you decide to start with an associate’s degree, make sure your credits will count toward a bachelor’s degree. This is the best way to both get the credential you need now and position yourself for success in the future.