Want a job that can take you to the top of skyscrapers or out to sea working on an offshore oil rig? Become a welder. Welding can take workers anywhere they want as it is a career that is in high demand in the U.S. and around the world.
According to the American Welding Society, the industry will be short more than 450,000 welders by 2022. And that number is projected to grow, meaning that with the right training and experience, welders can expect to find a job that fits them.
The star of our video, Nathan Swink, is the CEO of Swink’s Welding and Fabrication Inc. Nathan started welding when he was 13 years old and now at the age of 22, he operates a company that has seven full-time welders on staff. He’s found success in turning his hobby into a full-time career.
To get your journey started in welding, take some time to investigate the trade, especially the AWS certification. Certified welders can expect to earn $20 an hour. With more specialized work, like underwater welding, welders can make up to $80,000 a year.
Here are the four steps to become a welder:
Understand the Welding Trade
Welding is a physically challenging job. It requires a commitment to hard work, respect of safety, attention to detail, and precision skills. Before starting the journey, decide if those standards are right for you.
Get the Right Experience
There are many ways to obtain experience as a welder. One avenue is through your local welder’s union. Reach out to your local union for information but it’s common for each union to offer a course. Some employers provide on-the-job training for individuals with no prior welding experience. Training is also available through the military or community colleges.
Find Out Where You Want to Weld
One of the beautiful things about welding is that it spans many different industries. Welders can work in construction, infrastructure, manufacturing, general purpose, automotive, underwater, and creative arts — to name a few. It’s up to you to decide which industry is the best fit for you!
Not all welding industries require certifications; however, it is helpful to have one regardless. The American Welding Society offers a Certified Welder Program which provides a certification exam for $75. It is important to explore the industry you’re interested to determine if certification is necessary.
Two more things about welding: The industry has typically been a male-dominated field. But with the welder shortage, there are more efforts to attract women to the industry. Read this Atlantic story about “Women Who Weld” for more about their work to bring gender equity to welding.
Check out our Do Something Awesome video about the Workshops For Warriors welding training program for veterans.
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