Welding is not so much an occupation as a variety of occupations that employ different joining processes to fuse metals and plastics in a wide variety of industries from aerospace to precision medical products. These industries are ever taking advantage of technological advances to increase quality and efficiency and reduce waste and costs. What many people don’t realize is that this progress demands a more educated workforce, even, and perhaps especially, in fields such as construction, the manufacture of automobiles, and power generation. In short, today’s welder needs to know a bit of math, science, physics, metallurgy, and theory, in order to wield an arc or a torch.
This is actually good news, as a more skilled work force is often better compensated for their labor than less well-trained workers. This also bodes well for those in search of new challenges. A new, and often better paying career in welding, is often a matter of increased knowledge and practice. So where do you start? Research! There are many good welding programs out there, both at the pre and post high-school levels; but it is important to find out about what exactly is offered, for how long, and for how much. Unfortunately, some schools are more concerned about your money than your education. They may want you to sign a contract, or leave you on the hook for the cost of the whole tuition even if you find the instruction subpar, or you have to move. Other schools offer a good welding education, but charge much more than other comparable schools.
So, research the school! Talk to current students and staff, find out about job placement, and ALWAYS read the fine print. Lucky for you, you are already on the AWO website, which means you can start your welding education research right here. American Welding Online currently offers an online Welding Fundamentals Seminar and the online Certified Welding Sales Representative Seminar. New courses, including Safety in Welding, Understanding Welding Symbols, and Math for Welders will be coming online in the following weeks and months, so check back every so often to see what’s new or sign up for the AWO Newsletter at the top of this page.
For information about scholarships, internships, and welding schools in your area, select the AWS link at the top of this page and search through the Education section of the AWS website. For additional educational resources and to find out more about more about the future of the welding industry, check out Careers in Welding [http://www.careersinwelding.com/] and the AWS Vision for Welding report [http://www.aws.org/vision/vision.pdf].