How to Become a Welder in Alaska
Welding is a way of fusing metal together for manufacturing or maintenance. As a welder, you can work in a variety of environments, from construction sites to oil rigs. You will also employ a variety of processes to complete your tasks. The best-known processes are Metal Inert Gas (MIG), Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) and arc welding, but there are dozens more methods that welders learn and use.
Requirements for Become a Welding Technician in Alaska
There is no specific training or qualification needed for welders in Alaska, and it is possible to become a skilled tradesperson through on-the-job learning; however, many employers want to hire certified workers. The required tests can be taken with or without completing a training course, which makes certificates easier to obtain for people who already have good knowledge and skills in welding. Apart from having strong skills, though, you will need to be fit and in good health for this physically demanding job.
Where to Learn the Welding Trade
While excellent skills can be learned on the job, there are also multiple schools offering welding courses and certification.
- Alaska Vocational Technical Center. AVTEC, located in Seward, offers a combination welding program with pipe welding and structural components. The total time to complete both sections is 1,120 hours, and the program currently costs $18,919.00 including books, fees and room and board. The sections can also be taken individually, with pipe welding costing $10,306.00 and structural costing $11,393.00 at this time.
- Charter College. At their Anchorage campus, Charter College’s welding program is delivered partially in the classroom and partially online, and has intake throughout the year. The full course of study takes 10 months to complete. Prospective students need to contact the college for more information, including program tuition and fees.
- Northern Industrial Training. Northern Industrial Training offers four welding programs at their main campus in Palmer. Three of these courses are 8 weeks long and cost between $9,000 and $10,000 at this time, depending on the course. Their 16-week Ultimate Welding program currently costs $18,250.
Salary and Career Growth: What to Expect
In Alaska, welding is a comparatively well-paying job: 50 percent of welders paid hourly make $30.63, compared to the median wage in all occupations of $22.86, while half of all salaried welders make $63,710 or more. However, the projected job growth rate is slightly lower than the national average. Across the country, the projected rate between 2016 and 2026 is 5.6 percent, while Alaska’s projected growth rate in the field is 5 percent.
Working as a Welder in Alaska
Welding jobs can be found across the state, with the highest concentration in Anchorage. There are also positions in other cities, such as Juneau or Fairbanks, and in more remote oil and fishery regions. Because much of the need for welders is in specific industries, it may be difficult to start your own business; however, it can be done if you’re willing and able to work hard and see things through. Regardless whether you work in town or out of town, welding offers competitive wages and good job security. It can be a career to depend on for your future.