Is welding certification necessary? I bet you have heard contradicting answers from different sources. I ain’t gonna put my two cents on whether you should visit that welding school for your certification or not. Today I will try to answer a question that I often get asked by people who are considering welding as a profession, how long does it take to become a certified welder.
Well, do you know how long does it take to learn to weld? It just takes a few more steps beyond that! It can be a certification by your employer or an institutional certification offered by AWS (American Welding Society), ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), or API (American Petroleum Institute).
There are tons of welding certifications that you can opt for. It depends on the type of welding, type of metal, thickness you will be working on, and so on. Basically, it depends on the industry and the type of welding you are aiming for. To give an exact answer, it will take less than a year even if you are a newbie and have just started with basic welding. In most cases, it takes somewhere between 6 to 8 months, including the time for all the classes, training, welding certification test.
The Path to Certification
Welding is a universal profession that has high demand all around the world. The pay is good and with experience, it gets better with other facilities. However, it is a skill that requires both knowledge and field experience to master.
Learning and practicing yourself to become a welder involves a number of stages. Those stages are necessary to become a professional welder:
- Welding training
- Earning certifications
- Getting licenses as needed
Therefore, the overall required time to learn to weld depends on factors like your educational preferences, individual abilities, or work requirements.
Let us Start with Welding Training
There are various options for someone who is interested to choose welding as a career: on-the-job training, welding training programs, vocational school, apprenticeships, and community college. In many of these cases, after finishing their training, students can receive a certificate, diploma, or associate degree.
Trainees are instructed in every necessary thing that is needed in welding – techniques, metallurgy, blueprint reading, and safety procedures. Therefore, being skilled in the welding trade may take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the kind of training a welder pursues and how much training the course includes.
Another efficient way of welding training is that welders can start as laborers in welding jobs, and get training from the company or by their own expenditure. This allows them to advance as a welder in the field. In that case, the welder needs not attend a formal vocational training program before getting a job and first-hand industrial experience makes them more proficient. The only catch is – this is a lengthy process and can take years.
Now, the thing is, not every company hires someone without any past experience or training. Some do, some don’t. And many have on-the-job training even if they are recruiting someone with experience. So, it depends on the opportunity. If we consider most of the cases, then training obviously comes in handy to land in a good position or job.
Secondly: Earning Certifications
A high level of knowledge, necessary skills, and sharp eye-hand coordination makes a professional Welder. Every important structure – from bridges to aircraft airframes – Welding is a part of everything. So, it’s not just about a mere work that requires perfection, the strength and stability of such structures that have been built by welding are important to public safety.
Here, the importance of certification comes in as employers often require welders to demonstrate their skill through various tests and certifications. After completing training on welding, there are two primary types of certification you could seek: Employer certification and American Welding Society (AWS) certification.
Testing the candidate’s skills is the most traditional way of certification by the employer. On a certain type of weld, how the candidate or welder is experienced or skilled, should be verified to make sure the work will be done right. So, it is the most usual certification.
When a Welder is certified by the employer, that means this person has demonstrated necessary skills in a specific welding process, position, metal, and thickness range—usually the processes and specifications required for the job of that industry. If any of these processes or specifications change in a new job or in a promoted position, you might need a new certification.
Employer certifications are unique depending on the job requirements. Some different types of certifications a welder can usually find from the employer while working in the industry:
- Different welding processes and welding technique
- Different types of metals
- Range of thickness
- Filler metal specifications
- Different processes with shielding gas
- Welding positions
- Joint design
- Welding currents
In the welding industry, the most widely accepted certification is AWS certification. It is one of the most standard ways of verifying the skill of a professional welder. After completing a welding training program, if someone wants the AWS certificate, completing the Certified Welder program will help to test on AWS Standard Welding Procedures.
Many employers hire qualified welders only by using the AWS certification. Acquiring this certificate shows that the welder is qualified for certain processes in welding. The employers can rely on this certificate that the candidate that holds AWS certification has the necessary practical knowledge and has completed the safety test and hands-on practical test.
Other Welding Certifications
Besides being certified by employers or AWS, trainee welders can also be certified by many other organizations to land their first job. American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) are two of those organizations. But, these certifications require lots of training and experience. So, before claiming for those certifications, a candidate needs to be working in the industry for some time being.
The welding certifications are not with lifetime validity. Depending on the job or the process, it has an expiration date.
Finally: Getting the Certificate (Easier than you Thought)
If you are wondering if it is difficult to get a welding certificate, I have some good news for you. The usual process of the certification includes an exam that tests your welding ability. After that, multiple forms and documentation with personal information should be submitted which includes a certification of physical ability from your doctor, certification of your eyesight, and similar.
This may differ slightly from state to state. Some states may have different processes; some may require nothing at all besides personal information.
How long does it take to get a welding certificate?
Apparently, from the basic introductory class to the accredited certification it will take not more than 6 to 8 months and hopefully, you will land your dream job in less than 1 year. All the steps involved are simple and straightforward.
Is a welding certificate worth it?
Not all, but some of the states may require welding licenses. This is of course in addition to the certification of the specific welding programs. This license requirement varies from region to region. If a welder needs any license, he should first inquire in the local govt. office to learn the requirements of that region. In addition, the candidate should learn well whether the license and/ or the certification is optional or mandatory. Such as New York City requires its welders to have a license on welding.
Some states do not require licensing, i.e. Illinois nor Missouri – as they have welding training. The time required for getting a license differs from state to state.
Welding degree Vs Welding Certification
While having a welding degree will help you pass the welding certification exam, getting a welding degree to get certified is not a must. If you are a pro at your job, you simply apply for a certification exam and earn your degree. Some welding schools have associated certification offered with their welding course.
Therefore, if we think about the whole process of Welding training, certification, and getting necessary licenses, it depends on the job & regional requirements. Usually, it takes less than a year including everything like knowing the basics, getting trained, and earning the certification.