How to Become a Welder in Florida
A welder is a qualified trade worker who joins metals together and repairs metal structures. They read blueprints and use cutting torches and other welding equipment. Welders, or welding technicians, work with many types of metals. Since different techniques are used for different metals, they may concentrate on one or several of these techniques. Welding is a career that is high in demand everywhere, and the growth rate for this career in Florida is steady.
Requirements for Becoming a Welder in Florida
There are no statewide certification or licensing requirements to work as a welder in Florida. However, many employers within the state prefer to hire welders who hold certification. Many times, travel is required for this job, so a valid driver’s license is necessary.
Where education is concerned, the only educational requirement for welders is a high school diploma or equivalent. However, this is a job that is best learned through training. Most employers require that their employees have some experience, whether it be through work or completing an educational program. To gain experience, there are two options: find an employer to work for as an apprentice or to complete a post-secondary welding program.
Welding Programs in Florida
Most apprenticeship programs take anywhere from three to five years to complete. Educational programs take two years, and some can be completed in less than a year. Florida has several technical and vocational schools that offer welding programs.
- Tulsa Welding School. The Jacksonville campus of Tulsa Welding School offers a welding program that can be completed in just seven months. This fast-paced program consists of one day a week of interactive classroom instruction. The remaining days are spent doing hands-on welding training, beginning on day two of the program. Students get experience in many fields of welding including flux core, pipe and structural welding.
- Mid-Florida Tech. Mid-Florida Tech, located in Orlando, has a welding program that can be taken by high school students as dual-enrollment, or it can be taken by adult students. Students must have at least a ninth-grade level math, language and reading education. Students will learn how to read blueprints and diagrams and various welding techniques. This program consists of 1,050 clock hours. Upon completion of the program, students can take the certified welder exam given by the American Welding Society.
- Erwin Technical College. Erwin Tech in Tampa offers a full-time program in welding for adult students. This program can be in completed in one year if day classes are taken, and 15 months if taking evening classes. Students are taught the basic skills to seek entry-level employment as a welder or to take the certified welder exam. Types of welding taught include gas metal arc welding, manual shielded arc welding, oxy-fuel cutting and plasma cutting.
Welding Certification in Florida
Welders do not need to become certified to work in Florida, but many choose to do so. Most employers prefer a certified welder and some even require it. Welding is a skilled job, and being certified shows employers that you are competent and at the top of your game.
There are several different levels of certification that you can obtain as a welder. The most basic of them is the Certified Welder program given by the American Welding Society (AWS). You must pass an exam to get this certification. No other training or educational prerequisites are needed. Some of the other certifications offered by AWS include Certified Welding Inspector, Certified Welding Educator, Certified Welding Supervisor and Certified Welding Engineer.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
Welding careers are experiencing steady growth right now. According to data from the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), the number of welders working in the state of Florida is predicted to increase by 19.9 percent by the year 2026. This means that at least 2,700 new welding jobs will be available in the state by this time.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average hourly salary for welders in the state of Florida was $18.09 in 2017. The average annual salary was $37,630 that same year. Welders in the state who are more experienced can potentially make as much as $52,990 annually.
Working as a Welder in Florida
Welding usually requires working 40 hours per week, and most welders work overtime. You must be able to stand for long periods of time and sometimes work in uncomfortable positions. You must be able to work well with your hands and use power tools. Welders are exposed to extreme heat, so safety precautions must be taken to prevent burns.
Welding is involved in several fields, so welders may find work in the following industries: aerospace, automotive, energy, entertainment and shipping. Welders may stay in the welding career field, or they may go on to work as engineers, fabricators, supervisors or in quality control. In Florida, most welding jobs can be found in Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa.