Imagine yourself sitting in a harness, hanging from an overhead beam with your welding helmet, gloves and torch. You’re hard at work fusing large pieces of metal together to construct or repair a bridge, building or other structure.
Now imagine yourself working in a professional or personal welding shop where you’re in the process of creating a beautiful metal sculpture to sell or use.
If either of these scenes sound exciting to you, welding is probably the right job for you.
To become a professional welder, you need to go through a welding training program and pass a welding certification exam. But how hard is welding school? Are the education and training required for a welding certification going to be too difficult for you?
Fortunately, like any other trade skill, welding can be learned with time and effort. So instead of asking, “How hard is welding school?” the question you may want to ask instead is, “How much time and effort willwelding school require?”
The answer depends on your welding background. In most welding schools, there are four types of students:
No matter the type of student you’ll be, don’t worry. If you’re eager and determined to learn the skill of welding from your instructors and are willing to put in the time, hard work and practice, you can more than compensate for any lack of natural talent or experience.
Welding is a skill that requires you to get your hands dirty. This makes learning the art of welding far easier and more enjoyable for students who prefer “learning by doing” instead of traditional classroom learning.
You’ll be learning around the welding table as you perfect your use of welding machines and tools. The experience you gain behind your welding hood will be critical. The more time you spend learning about and experimenting with the welding equipment, the quicker you’ll become an expert at what you’re doing.
The people teaching you to weld should know what they’re doing and be able to teach it effectively. With skilled trades, students may find themselves learning from someone who has very little professional experience — or lots of experience, but little talent for the trade.
Additionally, just because a welder is talented and experienced doesn’t mean they’re a gifted teacher. Look for instructors who are skilled, experienced, and good at communicating and teaching. These kinds of teachers make learning easier and much more enjoyable.
Welding requires repetition. Welders practice the same tasks repeatedly until the processes become second nature and they consistently get their desired results. Your path to certification will require you to take on a variety of welding projects and rehearse the same processes again and again until the outcome is satisfactory to you and your instructors.
Your learning will continue after you achieve your welding certification given that you’ll most likely be in a job where you’ll be welding on a daily or weekly basis. This is especially true if you take a job as a millwright, pipe fitter or machinist.
Becoming a gifted welder doesn’t happen overnight. As you practice, remember to be patient as you learn. The goal is not to grow frustrated by your shortcomings or mistakes but to press on through the challenges and setbacks as you learn and perfect a new skill.
As you put in the time, you’ll also need to keep a level head and remember that each time you practice, you’re a step closer to mastering your welding skills.
Welding can have an impact on your body over time. This can be reduced by using proper welding supplies — without proper equipment, you run the risk of damaging your body, hands, eyesight and more.
As you weld, you’ll often have to put your body in positions that will cause soreness or strained muscles. This kind of damage to your body can be minimized by treating it with care and by addressing injuries as they come up.
Be very wary of breathing in any damaging carcinogen or toxic fumes while you weld.
Welding is a trade skill that can be learned and perfected with lots of hands-on experience, good instructors, practice, patience and time, and by protecting your body. Applying the five tips above may help you finish welding school with less difficulty than you thought and help you become a more desirable welder to future employers.
The United States is facing a shortage of welders — a shortage of about 400,000 operators by 2024, according to the American Welding Society. Because of this need, you should have great hiring potential once you have enough practice time under your belt and have passed the welding certification exam. You can earn a comfortable living with technical training, which makes welding school worth the time and effort.