Welding technology programs are offered by vocational and technical schools, community colleges, and even some four-year institutions. The goal of these programs is to prepare students to become certified welders, but what does that mean? What kinds of courses will you take in at welding school?
Most welding programs take one or two years to complete. One-year programs generally lead to a certificate, while students who complete two-year programs earn an associate’s degree. When investigating welding schools, make sure you choose one with a program that conforms to the guidelines set forth by the American Welding Society—this will help ensure that the knowledge and skills you learn will be up-to-date and in demand in the job market.
The main part of the welding curriculum is learning how to weld. This may sound small, but there are actually more than 100 different processes that can be used to weld metal pieces together! The most commonly used process is arc welding, of which there are several different types. Instruction in this technique forms the basis of all types of welding programs. Other main welding topics include metallurgy (the branch of science that explores the properties of metals), quality assurance, equipment maintenance and service, pipe fitting and cutting, and of course safety. Many vocational schools also offer job preparation courses to help their graduates succeed in the job market.
Students who choose to pursue two-year associate’s degree programs take a more well-rounded curriculum. All associate’s degree programs require a certain number of general education courses, so students take courses in history, English, and the social sciences. In addition, they study mathematics and natural sciences relevant to the job, like chemistry and physics. Finally, students in two-year programs study more advanced welding topics, like gas tungsten arc welding.
In addition, there are a variety of advanced process and technique courses available for professional welders who are interested in upgrading their skills and advancing in their career. For example, welders could take courses in gas metal arc welding or flux cored arc welding, or they could take a course to prepare for an advanced certification test.
If you have been researching welding as a career, you probably already know that no formal education is absolutely required—if you have talent, you can take the certification test without completing any prerequisites. However, as you can see, welding is quite a complex field! And, as in all industries, improvements in technology are making it even more complex, so even experienced welders often need to pursue additional education to ensure that their knowledge and skills are up to date. In the current climate, attending an accredited welding school and earning a certificate or even a degree is still the best way you can prepare yourself for this exciting new career.
Butte College. Welding.
Eastern Maine Community College. Welding technology.