Welding requires much more than simply applying heat to two metals so that they join and the outcomes of bad quality welding can be disastrous.
As such, the typical work of a welder includes:
- Following health and safety guidelines to prevent accident and injury
- Making sure work areas, tools and equipment are clean
- Analyse and understand engineering instructions, drawings or designs for each project
- Determining and calibrating the correct machinery and tools for the job
- Creating the weld (including preparing and mounting the workpieces)
- Monitoring heat sources, tools and metals to prevent overheating or damage from occurring
- Maintaining quality control on the welded products to ensure they are in line with requirements
These tasks may be performed in challenging conditions such as outdoors, high up from the ground or even underwater. Depending on the job, you may be required to work in potentially dangerous environments, during unsociable hours or at short notice. You will also be required to wear protective safety clothing and equipment to protect yourself while welding.
Different types of welding and different welding conditions require different training to master. Often it is necessary to become competent in a more basic technique before moving onto a more skilled one. Different working environments may also require their own specialised training and certification too.
Common types of welding include:
This is one of the simplest forms of arc welding to learn and is a common and popular technique that is widely used across industry
Using tungsten gas, this technique is more difficult to master than MIG welding, but can deliver higher quality and more aesthetically-pleasing welds when performed by a skilled practitioner
This method uses oxygen and acetylene gas to melt metals and used for a variety of metals as well as for brazing materials like bronze of copper
This welding is performed at elevated pressures, typically underwater (although it can also be performed in a dry environment). This type of welding is used for repairing marine assets including ships, oil platforms, offshore structures and pipelines.
Becoming a successful welder isn’t just about the physical act of welding itself as you will also need to attain other associated skills and knowledge:
Because much of your work as a welder will involve measurements, understanding blueprints and reading sketches, you will need solid skills in mathematics. These skills include being able to work well with numbers and measurements to work precisely as well as understanding geometry, algebra and being able to work with fractions. You can improve or brush up on these skills with additional maths courses
Attention to Detail
Tied to your mathematics skills is the need to be able to pay close attention to detail.Those precise measurements are no good if you don’t follow them closely, while even minor flaws can have serious repercussions. As such, safe and successful welds require attention to detail, which includes making sure you clean and maintain your tools and equipment
Although most jobs use blueprints created by engineers, welders are sometimes called upon to design and create bespoke yet safe and usable welds
Managing your time is another important skill. You need to be able to prioritise your workload to meet deadlines reliably. Of course, the work also needs to be completed accurately, which will be helped with a strong work ethic
Physical Strength and Stamina
You may be required to work with heavy materials and equipment, so will require a level of physical strength to complete certain jobs. Also, depending on the working environment, you may need to work in hot or cramped conditions for long periods of time
Welders face potential hazards that could harm either themselves or other people in the vicinity. Example hazards to be aware of include exposure to gases and fumes, arc eye, electric shock or noise hazards
Interpersonal / People Skills
It is easy to forget the importance of being able to work with different kinds of people each day. You will need to work with project managers, suppliers, engineers, tradespeople and clients. Each of these may need different interpersonal skills to approach and communicate with them. Being able to share your ideas but also listen to those of others is important and an open, friendly and approachable attitude can really help in this important area of your work
Commitment to Learning
As a certified welder, you will need to maintain your certification and keep your skills updated. However, you should also seek to keep growing and learning new skills as your career progresses
Being certified will help you to land a better job in welding, but not all employers require welders to be certified in order to join them, as they may offer on-the-job training or an apprenticeship so you can learn as you go.
Just as different employers have different expectations, so different countries have their own favoured approaches to becoming a welder. However, generally speaking, you can enter the profession through:
- An apprenticeship
- A college course
- Applying directly to employers (for on-the-job training)
- Private training courses
College courses include the Level 2 Award in Welding Skills, Level 2 Award in Welding Techniques and Skills, Level 3 Diploma in Fabrication and Welding Engineering Technology, and the T Level in Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control.
Before going on many jobs you will need an industry safety certificate such as the Client Contractor National Safety Group (CCNSG) Safety Passport Scheme.
Professional Membership of a body such as The Welding Institute in the UK, or the American Welding Society (AWS) in the United States, will also help you with your professional development and training requirements. Suppliers of training programmes can also be independent from the awarding bodies who award qualifications.
The qualification requirements for welders also differ according to country. In the UK, you may need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
In the United States, a high school diploma is the minimum requirement for welders, while others attend vocational high schools that allow them to train as they earn their diplomas.
It is worth investigating exactly which qualifications are required for the level of training you wish to take and what is accepted in the country you are in. Fortunately, many training and certification schemes, such as CSWIP are internationally recognised.
Although there are different ways to get into welding, there are some steps you can follow to get yourself certified:
Before you commit to anything, you should research the various welding training options available. Each different welding process may require its own certification and research can also help you decide which industry you want to work in. You may be able to try some different disciplines or, if not, you should try to speak to qualified welders about their experiences and see if they have any recommendations for you. Different tests will certify you for different disciplines and you probably won’t need to be certified in all of them right away, although some will cover multiple welding positions and processes.
2. Find Some Training
Once you have worked out which area of industry you would like to enter, you need to find some relevant training. This is vital for you to learn the welding skills required for your eventual welding career. As noted above, the requirements to enrol onto college course will vary according to the college and the country you are in. You could also opt for an apprenticeship, allowing you to split your time between working and learning. The additional bonus of an apprenticeship is that you will learn from real-world situations, on-the-job while also earning some money.
Before taking a test to get your certification, we recommend that you practice as much as you can. The amount of extra practice you require will vary from person to person, but as tests can be expensive and you will only have three opportunities to pass, it is better to over-prepare. You can pay for private classes to practice, although this can be expensive, or you can try to get your own welding equipment to practice with.
4. Take the Test
You will need to schedule a date for your certification test, giving you a goal to work towards. The tests are split into theory and practical elements with the level of difficulty depending on which certification you are aiming for. Certification requires you to meet the minimum practical criteria and pass your certification exam. These exams will take place at an accredited testing facility and cover disciplines including certified welder (CW), certified welding inspector (CWI), senior certified welding inspector (SCWI), certified welding educator (CWE), and certified welding sales representative (CWSR).
5. Gain Your Certification
While you may be keen to start work ASAP, passing the test does not mean you are immediately ready to work, as receiving your certification can take several weeks. Gaining your certification is not the end of the process, as you will need to maintain your credentials in order to keep working as a welder. This means paying a renewal fee and having your employer confirm that you are working to the required standards. If you don’t renew every six months, you will be given sixty days to renew after which you will need to get fully certified again.
If you have any questions regarding welder certification please email:
If you took an apprenticeship, the company you worked for is the first place you should look for employment. Often, the company may have paid towards your training and certification, so will usually expect you to transition directly into working for them.
Otherwise, you can search online for welding jobs that match your certification, but be sure to mention any additional experience you may have, as this should help you land a job. You could also seek the services of a welding recruiter who has contacts across the job market.
With regard to the job market, the good news is that reports show that employment for welders is expected to grow over the next few years, driven by the need for welding in manufacture and the need to upgrade national infrastructures.
The salary for welders varies across the world and depending on the work you are doing. In the UK, the national average salary for a welder is £27,599 per year, while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics points to a median salary for a welder of around $41,000 per year.
These are only averages and experienced senior welders will earn more than newly qualified welders with little or no experience. Other factors that impact pay are the geographic location, industry you are working in, and any potential safety hazards on the job.
Bearing the differences in salary that are available, you will want to continue to progress your career through further training and certification. You can also engage with various welding forums and attend events to learn about emerging trends and developments in your industry. Specialising in an area, such as underwater welding will also help improve your salary as you continue with your career.
Attaining welding certification opens up a range of job opportunities and the potential for higher earnings as it proves your knowledge and experience to any prospective employers.
However, certification also comes with a degree of responsibility as it means you should be trusted to weld in line with the specifications of your particular certification without supervision. This is even more important when you are being called upon to make critical welds that could affect the lives or property of other people.
Your certification also needs to be maintained periodically so that employers know you are still able to produce the required level of welding for a particular task. The more certified you are, the higher the wages you can command, so it is worth investing the time, money and effort to keep updating and improving your industrial skills and qualifications.
If you have any questions regarding welder certification please email: