How to Become a Welder in Arkansas
Welding is a skill and for trained workers it can be a lucrative and stable career. Welders read plans, make measurements and calculations, and then use special equipment to cut metal or weld pieces together. Increased construction and growing industrial facilities in Arkansas are putting qualified welders in demand. To work in the state, you’ll need to learn through a training program and, depending on your employer, also get certified.
How to Start a Career in Welding in Arkansas
While the state doesn’t require that welders have a license or certain certificate to work, many employers have requirements that start with completing an academic program. These are typically programs at community and vocational colleges that take two years or less to complete.
Some employers may take on workers as apprentices, but most prefer to hire entry-level welders that already have training. Many employers will also require welders to be certified, but most academic programs will prepare you to pass the exams necessary to achieve certification.
Welding Technology Programs
Residents of Arkansas have several options for training to become a welder. These excellent programs are accredited, have certified instructors and prepare graduates to start working right away.
- Arkansas Tech University, Ozark. At the Ozark campus of Arkansas Tech, students can choose between a 60-credit associate’s degree program in welding technology and a 36-credit technical certificate. Graduates of each program are prepared for entry-level jobs and are required to take exams for certification through the American Welding Society (AWS), a leader in national-level professional welding certifications.
- Arkansas Welding Academy, Jacksonville. The Welding Academy in Jacksonville offers career-focused training in master pipe and structural welding. The program takes 23 weeks to complete and costs about $16,000 for tuition, equipment, lab fees and books. Students spend most of the course time doing hands-on work.
- The University of Arkansas, Monticello. U of A students at the Crossett career school can choose between three welding programs. They include a certificate of proficiency, a technical certificate and an associate’s degree. The instructors are AWS-certified, and students learn everything they need to be hired right after graduation.
Certification and Licensing
Arkansas does not require welders be licensed through the state or hold any particular certification. Employers may require certification, though, and the AWS is usually the top choice. There are several kinds of certification you can get, but it makes sense to start with Certified Welder. To achieve the certification, you’ll need to pass an exam to demonstrate your skills. Other certifications offered include Certified Welding Educator, Certified Welding Engineer and many more.
Career Outlook and Salaries for Welders in Arkansas
Qualified welders are in demand across the country and especially in Arkansas. Welding is a learned skill that is needed in many industries, and not just anyone can do it. Employers need workers who are qualified and trained. Right now, the growth in careers for welders is 9.4 percent in the state. There should be hundreds of additional jobs available for welding technicians in the coming years.
For salaries, look to the average earnings for Arkansas welders in 2017 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: $19.10 per hour and $39,720 per year. The top 10 percent of earners in welding professions in the state made more than $60,000 that year.
Jobs for Welders in Arkansas
Most welding technicians are hired by manufacturing facilities across all industries: automotive, shipping, chemical production, construction and more. Anywhere there is industry there will be jobs available for qualified welders. There will be openings throughout the state, but the greatest number of opportunities will be in the larger population areas, like Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Jonesboro.