Becoming a Welding Technician in California
People who work as welding technicians spend their days building and repairing a variety of metal structure and items, including factory equipment, buildings, cars and airplanes. They use blueprints and their knowledge of metal properties and design techniques to complete work that stands the test of time. Welding is a fast-paced, constantly changing field, making work as a welder ideal for those who enjoy doing something new each day and having something physical to show for their work.
Most employers require that their welding techs have prior experience in welding, though a high-quality training program may also be sufficient. Other employers offer on-the-job training or apprenticeships, which can help applicants begin working in the field even sooner.
Certifications for Welding Technicians
California does not require welders to have any formal certifications or licenses. However, some employers may expect applicants to have a certification from the American Welding Society (AWS), particularly if the role entails a specialized form of welding. The society offers certificates in robotic ARC welding and welding engineering, and courses are sometimes available online.
Educational Programs in California
Prospective welding technicians based in California may find it helpful to enroll in a formal educational program. These can be found at community colleges and technical schools throughout the state. Here are two programs for students to consider:
- Cal Trade Welding School. Cal Trade specializes in welding and offers structural welding, MIG/TIG welding and pipeline welding courses. The school also provides combination courses, which include training in several aspects of welding to provide a more well-rounded education.
- Advanced Career Institute. ACT’s flexible scheduling option allows students to take classes in the morning, during the day, in the evening or at night, making it an ideal choice for people making a career switch while still working full-time. Students will be prepared to take two AWS certification tests.
Salary and Career Expectations for Welders
The welding industry in California is growing, with the Projections Managing Partnership anticipating an increase of 7.8 percent in the state within the 10 years from 2016 to 2026.
The average salary of a welding technician in California is $45,630, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This salary can fluctuate depending on the technician’s level of skill, experience and education.
Working as a Welding Technician in California
Welding is an excellent career choice for people who want to work with their hands, see something new each day and create meaningful, tangible work. Once in this field, welding technicians can work in factories, machine shops and construction sites. They can also work as independent contractors and take on projects as their schedule allows. Jobs are most plentiful in large cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. These cities also offer the highest salaries, which match their high cost of living.