Understanding the routes into the world of welding

How to get into welding?

It’s no surprise that welders are a crucial part of the workforce, working in roles critical to supply chains and infrastructure. It has been reported that the United States will be short some 400,000 welders by within the next two years, creating demand for new workers in the trade.

Photo by @srd.weldfab

Given the demand for welders and the potential to make a comfortable living as a welder, young people looking considering their futures may find that welding is the ideal skill for them to learn.  

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There are a number of routes into the trade, and welders from a number of different backgrounds have told YesWelder about their varied paths into this line of work.

Photo by @srd.weldfab

While there are several routes to becoming a welder, it is also true that some welders may recommend a certain path into the trade for those getting started. In this blog post, we’ll consider a few options for anyone who is hoping to learn to weld.

Photo by @charles_bene96

Starting off early 

As with any new skill, it is only beneficial to start learning to weld before you enter the field. Many young welders and metal artists have started out by learning from a parent or grandparent, or by buying an affordable welding machine and practising at home. If you’re a young person interested in welding, consider finding out if your school offers welding courses. 

Photo by @charles_bene96

Formal training

The clearest path to becoming a professional welder is to complete a certification at a welding academy, trade school, or college, as Courtney, a welding teacher at a Georgia high school, tells us YesWelder: “The best advice I can give someone that wants to be a welder after high school but has no prior training is to either go to a trade school or community college.”

Photo by @westernweldingacademy

Julie, a 19-year-old multi-process welder agrees with this approach. “To be quite honest, I’m glad I decided to go to school for welding before I got into the field,” Julie told us, adding that school is the best option for someone who wants to enter the world of welding: “It helped me build a foundation on my knowledge and skills for welding.”

Photo by @bailee_schmidt13

An example of a specialised school that provides welding training is Western Welding Academy in Wyoming, which we previously covered in this WhyWeWeld video: 

Learning on the job

While some formal training is recommended by many welders, it is not the path that every successful welder has taken. “Of course you do not have to go to school to be successful as a welder,” Courtney told us.

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“So, the other option I would recommend is to get hired somewhere looking for a welder helper,” adding that “this way, the company knows you are untrained and they are able to work with you in building your skills.” 

Photo by @charles_bene96

An important factor for readers to consider before deciding to take a job without any formal education is the transferability of the skills which they will learn from one company or workshop.

Photo by @srd.weldfab

If you are trained in one particular welding process used in that specific line of work, you may find that formal training in other processes could benefit you in terms of employability later on in other areas of the trade. 

Photo by @hill_welding

Taking on welding for personal projects

While the trade is attractive for young people who are looking to take on a type of work that is in demand by employers, many readers may want to enter the world of welding as hobbyists or to enhance their skillset.

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If you’re looking to learn to weld as an additional skill, but not necessarily because you want to work as a welder full-time, it’s likely that you won’t need a certification. 

Photo by @welderman_alex

In this case, Kyle, a Jeep enthusiast who has taught himself to weld, recommends getting a low-cost welder and starting out with online resources: “If you want to be self-taught there are tons of great videos and YouTube channels out there showing you how to get setup to the actual welding process. Weld.com on YouTube was a great resource for me. I basically watched a ton of videos and then just continued to practice. I would just get some scrap pieces and start laying beads and tacking them together. Once I was thinking I knew how to lay some decent beads I started trying to make a few small things like boxes and things that you have to measure and fit up right.”

Photo by @the_bearded_jeeper 

Kyle continues, “The best advice I can give someone that wants to be self taught is to just grab a welder and keep practicing. You will get better the more time you put under the hood.”

Photo by @arc_addict

This advice may be particularly useful for homeowners looking to take on small metalwork projects, and those already involved in the trades and wanting to extends their skills, such as carpenters who are interested in working with metal, or artists who are eager to try out a new medium. 

Photo by @pfeworks

Of course, safety is crucial, especially for those learning independently. Be sure to purchase a good-quality welding hood before getting started, and make sure that you’re aware of how metal behaves as it heats up, before getting started. 

Photo by @welderman_alex

Thank you to the welders who offered their advice and provided images for this article. Be sure to follow Courtney, Julie, and Kyle on their social media pages. 

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