If you long for the challenge of the manufacturing industry, you should get career training in an automation-proof profession. Welding professionals are in high demand--global growth depends on them. But what you might not know is that professionals with welding degrees are virtually safe from the threat of automation.
Available Welding Degrees and Career Options
Career training in welding offers you a couple of different learning scenarios. The U.S. Armed Forces operate welding schools and American Welding Society certification courses are offered at select technical or vocational colleges. You can choose to earn a certification or an associate's degree in combination welding. Individual specializations within these programs include plasma cutting, stick, Metal Inert Gas (MIG) or Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding. Most states require that welders take a re-certification test every few years, and online courses can help prepare you.
The top industries that routinely court graduates with welding degrees include construction and manufacturing in fabricated metal products, transportation equipment, machinery, architectural and structural metals. The Armed Forces as well as federal, state, and local governments offer an abundance of opportunity for trained welding professionals.
Employment Outlook and Potential Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, welding, soldering, and brazing workers held about 462,000 jobs in 2006. Employment of these professionals is projected to increase by about 5 percent over the decade through 2016. Despite this seemingly moderate growth rate, the outlook for welders in manufacturing is far stronger than for other occupations.
With respect to potential salary, 2007 median earnings for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers were $15.51 an hour, with top tier workers making $23.56. Because most welders are union members, salary levels and benefits are typically better than those for non-unionized workers.
Typical Welding Coursework and Online Study Options
Typical vocational programs in a welding certification or career training program include safety principles, basic welding, and blueprint reading. Shop mathematics, physics, mechanical drawing, chemistry, and metallurgy are also common courses. A blueprint reading course can make you a particularly desirable employee because you are able to read and modify welding plans alongside the architect or engineer who designed them. Tools and techniques include arc, plasma, and oxy-gas cutting.
Welding career training is offered through online study in separate modules or as a continuous program. Typical programs are 40 hours in length and most are delivered in both English and Spanish. Simulations, graphics, and videos combine to create a meaningful training program that employers prefer when interviewing candidates for entry-level positions. Online study is particularly suited for individuals on the job who want sophisticated career training.