Welding is an innovative, hands-on career that is essential to our society. Today, welders aid in the development and manufacturing of any and all things metal—from the pipes in your home and the fixtures in parks, to the gears in your car and the bridges we drive over. If you desire a career that is valued and versatile, welding may be for you.
Anyone interested in becoming a welder already knows the importance of having the physical strength and manual dexterity to be able to handle machinery and materials. However, this only lays the groundwork for a professional welding career. Aspiring welders should also consider pursuing training and certification before launching a career. Welding training and certification programs can prepare you with the skills employers are seeking, as well as the marketability to stand out amongst other candidates. As you consider welding certification, and the basics steps to become a welder, keep this guide. Here, we will break down the path towards a successful welding career, including the:
- Welding Training and Certification Requirements
- Meaning of Welding Certification
- Professional Welding Certifications Available
- Benefits of Welding Certification
Welding Training and Certification Requirements
The first step toward becoming a welder is to fulfill some basic prerequisites for welding, if you haven’t done so already. That means completing math, science, and shop classes in high school. You should also take welding courses at the high school level if available. While these steps are not always required, they can help you build a foundational knowledge of welding and machinery.
Next, you’ll want to be sure to enroll in a welding training and certificate program. While a college-level welding certificate is not required, it can help you launch your career and stand out to prospective employers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many employers prefer to hire welders who have completed postsecondary training and/or credentialing programs.
Taking welding courses at the college-level can prepare you to fulfill professional certification in the field. While welding certification is not a requirement for every welding job, professional credentials can help you qualify for more jobs or more advanced job opportunities. Some employers, such as those in cutting-edge fields like aerospace and defense, require their welders to have certification and training. Specific welding certification requirements, however, will vary place to place.
Before we continue, it is important that you understand what welding certification is, exactly.
What is Welding Certification?
Welding certification is a professional credential granted by recognized welding organizations, such as the American Welding Society (AWS). To earn this credential, welders must complete and pass a formal assessment from the organization to verify their welding skills, knowledge, and practices. Certifications are typically granted through examination, which may be computerized knowledge exams, practical demonstrations of welding expertise, or a combination of the above.
There are several different types of welding certifications you can pursue, from different organizations that are known within the field. Each certification will vary in its assessment and requirements. In general, though, most welding certification exams will evaluate techniques like:
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding
- Gas Metal Arc Welding
- Flux Core Arc Welding
- Gas Tungsten Metal Arc Welding / Tungsten Inert Gas Welding
The goal of the welding certification process is to test each welder’s ability to create sound, stable, precise welds, in and out of various welding positions (such as vertical, horizontal, flat, and overhead). These hands-on certification tests are typically performed at a workplace or industry setting. Again, computerized certification exams are also available to welders.
What Professional Welding Certifications are Available?
Current and prospective welders can pursue a variety of professional certifications in the welding field. Each welding certification can help to increase your qualifications and expand your horizons on the job. Below are some of the popular welding certifications available through the American Welding Society:
- Certified Welder (CW) certification
- Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) certification
- Certified Welding Educator (CWE) certification\
- Certified Resistance Welding Technician (CRWT) certification
- Certified Welding Supervisor (CWS) certification
- Certified Radiographic Interpreter (CRI) certification
- Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR) certification
- Certified Welding Engineer (CWE) certification
In addition to the above welding certifications, you may also become certified in a certain welding technique. Some employers require welders to become certified or specialized in processes like laser welding, resistance welding, soldering, and brazing, as examples. As you prepare to set out into the welding field, consider earning credentials in fundamental welding techniques to enhance your resume.
There is not one, single certification that is preferred or honored more than the other. Each varies in the skills they are testing, to help prepare welders for dedicated roles or titles in the field. So, it is important to take your time in researching each type of welding certification, to determine which best aligns with your interests, career goals, and also prospective employers’ needs.
Benefits of Welding Certification
Although welding certification is not always required, it carries many benefits.
1. Demonstrate Your Skill
One benefit of welding certification is that it showcases your level of skill in the field. According to the American Welding Society, the most well-known welding certifying body, “Every certification that a welder earns increases the number of skills needed to perform a wide range of welding jobs.” Additionally, it’s important to note that certification exams have rigorous standards. In welding, certification proves that you can produce clean, quality work.
2. Show Your Dedication to the Field
Pursuing a welding certification as a professional shows that you are serious about your career. You have taken the steps to specialize and certify yourself, and are committed to learning. This, in turn, shows employers that you can continually grow and advance as a welder, and that you have potential to succeed in advanced leadership roles.
3. Qualify for More Jobs
As noted earlier, some employers require welders to earn certification in certain areas, before launching a job. Therefore, welding certification can qualify you for more job opportunities, and expand your prospects to those that require or prefer certified candidates. Additionally, certification will prove your abilities in various aspects of welding, making you more attractive to employers.
4. Increase Your Earning Potential
The American Welding Society also reports that welding certification can position you for higher salary potential and better job stability. Again, as a certified professional, you can advance up the career ladder and become a high-paying, highly-established, and versatile welder. You will be compensated as such. Indeed also reports that certified welders have the ability to earn more permanent positions, due to their training and expertise.
5. Reduce Certification Costs Over Time
According to Indeed, once you earn certification in the welding field, “your initial cost to take an assessment is significantly less to re-certify after a specified length of time.”
Instead of asking, “Do I need to become certified in welding?” try asking yourself, “Why not?” Welding certification can be pursued by any aspiring welder looking to stand out in the job market today. Professional welding credentials will show that you have mastery in the field.
After landing a welding career, you should continue to hone your skills and learn even more about your trade. Much like all great careers, your education in welding is a continuous process. There are always new technologies and tools emerging to help us advance in this modern-day world of manufacturing.
Finding a Welding Certificate Program
Choosing the right welding program for you is an important step in landing your dream job. Finding a reputable manufacturing school will be the place you’ll want to start. The welding school at Goodwin University, for example, is a great option for those who are looking to gain some experience in welding, but who also want to start working in the industry quickly. Students in this program get the unique opportunity to earn their welding certificate in as few as 8 months – shorter than many other welding programs in Connecticut. Goodwin’s program teaches students everything from welding safety and fabrication, to foundational welding methods, to safely navigating a welding worksite. Students in this program also have access to state-of-the art equipment and hands-on training resources, including a virtual reality welding machine and an innovative Bluco table.
Upon completion of our program, you will be ready to pursue entry-level employment and/or advanced, professional certification from the AWS and more.
If you would like to learn even more about the welding program at Goodwin University, reach out to us anytime! Call 1-800-889-3282 or visit us online.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.