No one is a “born welder.” It’s not a trait you can inherit, nor is it something you can teach yourself and begin creating flawless weld beads in a few days. Learning to weld correctly is the fastest path to a successful and lucrative career. However, there are several ways to learn to weld and different venues from which to choose.
The best welding schools will teach you the theory and provide you with practical hands-on training. Getting both parts of the training is essential, but the hours you spend with a torch in your hand will give you the confidence you need when you get those early welding assignments.
Graduating from welding school also gives you something else: a certificate giving you credibility when you enter the job market. To help you decide where you might go to learn to weld, whether you intend to weld professionally or as a hobby.
How long does it take to learn to weld?
A vocational school is a training option focusing on hands-on skills, such as welding techniques, shop safety, and blueprint reading. Students in vocational schools typically complete their training within seven months and receive a diploma certificate.
Welding programs in a community college last two years, and graduates earn an associate degree. The programs cover areas similar to vocational programs but include general education courses like history and English.
Apprenticeships are another avenue of learning where trainees work with a professional welder getting on-the-job experience and individual attention. The training lasts three to four years, and the trainee receives a “journeyman” designation and is fully certified.
Is it worth going to welding school?
Many welders have been retiring, and some have left the profession for various other reasons. As a result, a welding shortage exists, and some employers are willing to hire entry-level welders without certificates. Those contemplating a welding career may be tempted to bypass the welding school training altogether.
However, landing an interview for a higher-paying job is only one of the reasons that enrolling in welding school will pay dividends in the long term. First, these training programs will teach you several aspects of welding to prepare you for various practical situations. And your training includes developing soft skills such as communication, writing, time management, and budgeting.
Experienced and certified welders will teach you the basics so you refrain from establishing improper welding techniques. Finally, schools will help you find a job and advance your career after graduation.
Which welding courses are best?
Here is a list of schools and colleges that will help you get your welding career started on the right foot:
1. Ferris State University
Location: 1201 S. State Street, Big Rapids, Michigan, USA 49307
Ferris State University has an excellent reputation as a welding school. It offers two degrees: an Associate in Applied Science of Welding Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology. Both degrees emphasize hands-on work and learning the intricacies of welding.
The schools also teach theory, making students proficient in various areas and giving them more choices beyond professional welding, including project and manufacturing engineering or production management.
Students learn how to create welds and apply the math and science behind them. They will know how to conduct welding certification tests such as non-destructive testing, identify welding technology problems, and work with robotics and other automated welding systems.
The Associate in Applied Science
Cost: Contact the school
Duration: 2 years
Bachelor of Science Program
Cost: Contact the school
Duration: 4 years
2. Tulsa Welding School
Locations: Tulsa, Oklahoma, 2545 East 11th Street, Tulsa, OK 74104 and Jacksonville, Florida, 3500 Southside Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32216
Another well-respected welding school is the Tulsa Welding School. It has been around since 1949, helping its students from enrollment to job application. And with its numerous employer partnerships in the US and abroad, TWS has had much success getting its graduates employed right out of school.
The training programs focus on time under the hood for much of the program, and their flexible schedules and programs adjust for slower learners so that everyone leaves the school as excellent welders.
Duration: 7 Months
For those future welders interested in pipefitting, the Professional Welder with Pipefitting program allows them to acquire the skills needed to work as a pipefitter, steamfitter, boilermaker, and plumber. The program teaches core knowledge, including math, blueprint reading, codes, standards, etc.
Professional Welder with Pipefitting
Duration: 10 Months
3. Hobart Institute of Welding Technology
Location: 300 Trade Square E, Troy, OH 45373
Hobart is another well-known name in welding circles, accredited by the American Welding Society and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. They have trained over 100,000 welders in their ninety years of existence, teaching welding exclusively. They offer two complete welding programs and various individual courses, such as programs to prepare students for their welding certification or to learn a specific skill.
Structural Welding Program
Duration: 24 weeks (840 hours)
The structural welding program is designed for students looking to learn the most popular processes in all areas, including the safety and technical aspects. Graduates will acquire the skills to work as entry-level welders in fabrication shops and construction.
Combination Structural and Pipe Welding Program
Duration: 40 weeks (1300 Hours)
This program offers the same training as their structural welding but with the addition of pipe welding. It’s an excellent program for those who want comprehensive skills for all types of welding, including pipe welder jobs.
4. The Lincoln Electric Welding School
Location: 22800 St Clair Ave., Euclid, OH 44117
The Lincoln Electric Welding School is the longest-operating welding school in the world, so it’s not surprising that anyone associated with welding is familiar with its name. In 2018, Lincoln Electric opened a new state-of-the-art training center in Euclid, Ohio, on 130.000 square feet.
Since the program is broken into shorter courses, students can combine what they want to learn and make the curriculum for themselves. This program is ideal for those who know what’s missing from their welding education and want to fill in the gaps. The school also offers short introductory programs, allowing students to try various things for a minimum amount of money.
Here are some of their offerings:
Introduction to Welding
Duration: 5 Days
This introductory course is inexpensive but a good starting point.
Duration: 16 weeks
As the name suggests, this is not a single course but a complete program preparing students to work with multiple welding techniques.
5. Welder Training & Testing Institute
Location: 1144 N. Graham Street, Allentown, PA 18109
The Welder Training & Testing Institute was founded in 1968 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as Breeden School of Welding and renamed in 1973. They began including welding training, inspection, and testing services at that time.
WTTI offers Career Level Programs and Advanced Welding Technique courses with brazing and weld work training. It is among the few welding schools offering inspection and training as part of their services, and they can also provide the testing for welder and procedure qualifications.
The student’s training prices and length will vary depending on the courses.
Cost: $300 to $12,000
Duration: 6 hours to 20 months
6. Advanced Welding Institute
Location: South Burlington, VT, and Eagle River, WI
Advanced welding institute is an excellent welding school with two campuses: one in South Burlington, Vermont, and the other in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Each facility has Lincoln and Miller equipment, curing stations, classrooms, and learning centers.
AWI’s primary advantage is its small classroom sizes, focused training courses, and low student count per instructor. You receive a mix of hands-on instruction and welding courses with required reading and basic math. They offer 15 and 24-week full-time welding programs and certifications from AWS, ASME, and API.
Structural Welding Program
Cost: Vermont: $21,300
Cost: Wisconsin: $18.500
Duration: 15 Weeks (600 Hours)
Combination of Structural and Pipe Welding
Cost: Vermont: $26,500
Cost: Wisconsin: $23,000
Duration: 24 Weeks (960 Hours)
You will find many more good welding schools in the U.S. that should be added to this list. However, these schools are an excellent fit for almost any student. Consider the type of education and training you believe would work for you and choose accordingly.