Entry level jobs, and how to get them, are a major concern for everyone new to the job market. The best way of getting entry level welding jobs will vary from person to person, and would be specific to your situation. In discussing entry level jobs as a Welder, you need to appreciate that there are many different ways to tackle the problem. You also need to appreciate that while some of these ways may appear to be a "short-cut", that is not necessarily the case. At the end of the day, you still need the skills and experience to perform the job of Welder. No skill is acquired without hands-on practice. No experience is gained without actually doing the work. No knowledge is gained without actually applying effort. In this regard, it is important to internalize the old adage: There is no teaching. There is only learning.
makes the job of Welder significantly different from most other safety critical
jobs, is that there are a lot of top notch Welders that have no formal
qualifications. This does not mean that becoming a Welder without formal
qualifications is the best way for you, but it does mean that it is possible to
do. The reason that this is possible, is because Welders performing safety
critical welds need to prove their skill every time before they do new types of
work. The types of skill tests that they must pass are laid down in the welding
codes. These skill tests are mostly practical welding tests. Once a Welder passes a certain test as
defined in the relevant welding code, s/he is called a "coded
welder". (Click here to see further discussions
regarding coding tests.)
understand that there are many different welding codes, based on the type of
component being welded, and the industry involved. In addition, there are
potentially many different coding tests, depending on the types of materials to
be welded, the welding processes to be used, and a long list of other
be able to perform Welds that meet the requirements of a specific code, the
minimum requirement is generally to pass the necessary coding test/s. In theory
then, it is possible to practice some welding for a week or so and then perform
a specific coding test. If you can pass it to the code specified quality
requirements, then you have met the minimum requirements to qualify for entry level jobs as Welder. Some employers will
require nothing more than this, before offering entry level jobs for Welders.
is however a lot rougher than this theoretical situation described. Generally
the well paid Welder jobs require the Welder to be able to successfully weld a
number of different coding coupons, using different welding processes and
different materials in different welding positions. Additionally the testing
process is undertaken under the supervision of a welding Inspector. If it is
apparent to the Inspector that you are "struggling", then s/he will
terminate the test, and then it is goodbye to you. In addition, most employers
will want to see that you have a CV indicating that you have prior experience
in doing the type of work that they want you to do. This does not come from
practicing in a welding bay alone.
reality is therefore that you need to have reasonable expectations about how
easy or difficult it is to land entry level jobs as a Welder. Below we will look at some typical
ways of becoming a Welder, so that you can qualify for those welding entry level jobs.
can follow an apprenticeship in the same way as any other artisan / journeyman / tradesman.
The good thing with being a Welder apprentice is that your employer typically
pays for your training while you are also exposed to an actual industrial
environment. Operating welding equipment and supplying materials to use is a
rather expensive exercise. Few youngsters starting out in life can actually
carry the costs involved with getting to a reasonably high level of skill to be
able to pass a significant number of coding tests.
addition, if you are young and just starting to look for entry level jobs in welding, then
the chances are good that you have very little appreciation for everything that
goes into the whole construction exercise. A good apprenticeship will guide you
into this life of engineering, and allow you to follow a path to achieving not
only the welding skills required, but also a qualification that will stand you in good
stead in the future. Some employers will only employ a Welder with a trade
certificate, which means that you will have an advantage over the Welder
without the trade certificate. This situation is however not very widespread,
so it is not a huge advantage in itself.
many countries a Welder apprenticeship is supported by the state. As such, it
may be possible for you to follow a government sponsored Welder apprenticeship.
If you want to go down this road, please do the necessary searches to uncover
the best financial approach in your country and region. (Also see the section
titled "Funding for Training" below for some more ideas in this
full apprenticeship typically runs for 3 years and includes theoretical studies
and practical hands-on welding. In most apprenticeship schemes you are actually
being paid a small salary while getting your qualification, which makes apprenticeships very attractive as entry level jobs. In this
scenario, your employer may require you to work for them for a minimum time
period after your qualification, to compensate them for their time and effort
getting you through your unproductive stage. In quiet economic times this
obligation can in fact be a bonus, as it may be difficult to find work on your
own until you have some good experience you can reference on your CV.
a word of caution. Before applying to a specific company for an apprenticeship,
it is important to make sure that they have a good reputation for their
apprenticeship program. There are some unscrupulous operators that string
youngsters along for years, paying a very low wage, and you never actually get
to the point where you receive your papers as an artisan. Beware that you are
not tricked into the employ of such organizations.
the fact that you only really need to be able to pass some coding tests (and
some of the coding tests for the less critical work are actually quite simple)
to get some entry level jobs as a Welder, there are quite a number of Welder
training schools opening up. Depending on your level of prior experience, these
schools will offer to train you to be able to pass certain of the coding tests.
approach to qualifying for entry level jobs is actually quite attractive if you have already worked in industry
for a while, and you have a good appreciation for what it takes to be a Welder.
Maybe you have even tried your hand at welding on an "unofficial"
basis and you believe that you have a flair for it. If this is you, then this
approach may be a good fit for you to get to the level required for entry level jobs in welding. The costs can however be quite high, if you
want to gain a wide range of skills with different welding processes and
best way to use this path to a career as a Welder is to see it as a stepping
stone to advancing your career. You first do a very basic course that allows
you to do simple structural welds with Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW – Also
called stick welding.) on carbon steel. This test is simple and will give you
the skills required to perform the simplest of ad-hoc welding jobs. Then you
try to get entry level jobs doing such simple welds. A general maintenance
shop servicing the agricultural sector or making simple structures such as
fencing would be good places to start looking. As you gain experience and
additional skills with your SMAW, look for more demanding jobs where you can
apply those skills.
you have done quite a bit of this type of work, and you have built some
confidence, then you can go back to the welding college for the next step. The
next step may be to learn a welding process such as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding.
(GTAW – Also known as TIG welding) This is the "go-to" process for
work where high levels of control is required. If you can pass a test coupon in
a pipe using the GTAW process for the root and second pass, and you can finish
off the fill and cap passes with SMAW, then you can start looking for entry level jobs in
workshops doing pipe welding.
you can get into such a job, then the rest of the process will become apparent
in terms of additional welding processes and materials etc. Often these types
of workshops will also provide you with the opportunity to practice new skills
and expand your coding.
a word of caution regarding these private Welder training schools. As a general
rule you will receive very little theoretical training. You can never be a good
Welder without having an appreciation for the theoretical aspects of design,
metallurgy, welding codes, non-destructive testing (NDT) and welding power
sources. As such, you must only consider the practical training you receive as
a starting point. You need to do your own studies and enquiries into these
other fields impacting you as a Welder. WelderDestiny would be an excellent
source to gain some of this additional theoretical knowledge.
you can get an entry level job as an assistant in a welding workshop, you should be
able to speak to your boss about picking up some informal welding experience.
This would only be possible if you can also get some of the experienced welders
to give you some pointers. If you can gain some skills as a Welder, then the
boss may be able to use you to do some non-critical welding work for the cost
of an assistant. That way you both win. Obviously you will need to practice in
your own time, but if the company can pick up the cost of welding consumables,
then you are ahead on this deal. Most workshops generate a lot of scrap
materials for you to use for practicing, so this aspect should not cost the
type of informal set-up is a rather uncertain road to getting the necessary
skills as a Welder, but would be a really beneficial way forward for people
that already have a job in a welding workshop, and are not in a position to
take a knock on their income by following a more formal route. If you can
convince your boss that you are worth investing in, this way forward may be the
best compromise for you.
big disadvantage of this process is obviously that you do not have much control
of the process. You also do not have much leverage in terms of doing actual coding
tests and subsequently getting a more formal career as Welder up and running.
Really this will depend a lot on your relationship with the company you are
working for. This is why it is very important not to burn bridges in any of
your professional relationships.
countries or states have funding programs in place for artisan training. A good
place to start, to see what funding arrangements are in place for Welders, is
to contact your national welding body. (e.g. AWS in the USA; TWI in England;
WTIA or AIW in Australia; SAIW in South Africa etc.) Often these bodies have
secured funding themselves for Welder training, and could in fact be operating
a "semi-private" welding school themselves.
economies, it is not uncommon to come across a Welder that has a very limited
ability to read or write. These Welders are still able to function, because
their Supervisor will take the time and trouble to make sure that they know
exactly what is required before they start on the job. I am afraid that in the
new information driven economy that we are heading into, such Welders will be
pushed to the margin. Even entry level jobs will require you to be able to read and write and calculate.
automation increases, the theoretical technical skills associated with the job
of being a Welder will increase greatly. A Welder will be required to work much
more autonomously, meaning that it will be impossible to employ a Welder that
needs a lot of "hand holding" to get a job done.
time is coming when the welding procedure (WPS) will be transmitted to the
Welder electronically along with all his / her other instructions. There will
be an expectation that the Welder will be able to interpret all the welding
instructions and set-up the necessary equipment and control the required
consumables all by themselves. This level of autonomy cannot be achieved by
people without reasonable levels of literacy and numeracy.
said this, you do not need to be Shakespeare or Einstein to be a Welder. You
must however appreciate that the job of being a Welder will become more
theoretical as the waves of change from the information economy washes over us.
So, if you are not a great reader, now is the time to change that! Decide that
you will take up reading on a regular basis. Whether this is fiction or non-fiction
is probably not that important. Just get yourself to the point where you are
comfortable reading and understanding a complex set of instructions, and doing basic arithmetic. Even
reading technical information from websites is a great starting point.
important to understand that the job as Welder is a very good starting point
for a number of other jobs within the welding and construction world. If you really like the
practical hands-on aspect of being a Welder, then by all means keep going till
you retire, but also understand that being a Welder is not a dead end job. It
is quite easy to progress onto other jobs with further training, if you would
prefer. Click here to get an idea of
the other jobs that you can typically move into.
Most of the national welding institutes and societies provide good information on welding training. Follow this link for information on The Welding Institute (TWI - UK) website. Follow this link for information from the American Welding Society (AWS - USA) website.