How to Become a Welder in Iowa
In any Iowa industry that involves work with metal materials, welders are an important part of the team. These skilled workers are trained to use high heat and various tools to cut, mold, fit and fuse metal parts. To become a welder in Iowa, you should be highly skilled in welding techniques and methods, whether through formal training and certification or years of trade experience and on-the-job training.
It’s generally required for welders to hold at least a high school diploma or GED and possess basic math skills. Another necessary skill for welders is the ability to read and interpret blueprints. Training in welding includes safety training, emergency protocols and the proper handling of dangerous power tools. Iowa welding students may be trained in various types of welding techniques, such as gas tungsten arc (GTAW/TIG) and shielded metal arc (SMAW/stick) welding.
Iowa Welding Training Programs
The American Welding Society’s (AWS’s) SENSE program in welding is a set of guidelines and standards which guarantee standardized welding training to students of accredited programs. Schools in Iowa that offer excellent SENSE welding training include:
- North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC). Based in Mason City, this school offers a two-semester welding diploma and is recognized as an institutional member of the AWS. NIACC’s welding training focuses on leading welding practices in Iowa in fields such as agriculture, utilities, automotive and mining.
- Southeastern Iowa Community College (SCC). This school’s Production Welding and Stick Welding Certificates are both aligned with the AWS’s SENSE requirements. The Stick Welding Certificate offers training in Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), the most popular and oldest welding technique in the field. The Production Welding Certificate prepares students to work in production welding by teaching Welding Short-Circuit and Spray Transfer (MIG and MIG-S) techniques. Both certificates also offer training in welding safety and welding symbol reading.
Do You Need Welding Licensing or Certification?
Certification is not required for welders in the state of Iowa, but it can help them gain experience and respect from potential employers. Even so, those who perform structural steel welding in Iowa must work in facilities that are licensed with Welding Procedure Specification (WPS), according to the Office of Construction and Materials, a division of the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT).
Income and Employment Levels of Welders
In 2016, the Projections Managing Parnership (PMP) reported that there were 9,010 welders, cutters, solderers and brazers employed throughout the state of Iowa. The job outlook for welders is generally positive, with the PMP estimating a 9.2 percent increase in Iowa welder employment by 2026.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average income for welders in Iowa was $18.24 per hour, which was more than twice the Iowa minimum wage of $7.25 per hour that year.
Welding Careers in Iowa
The largest number of welders in Iowa was employed in the Southeast and Northwest Iowa nonmetropolitan areas in 2017. However, the highest paid welders that same year worked in Ames, IA, earning a mean income of $20.29 per hour. Only those who can endure harsh outdoor conditions, such as hot sun or construction environments, should become welders. For those interested in starting a welding business, the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers resources about starting and growing a business in Iowa.