Welding in the State of Illinois
In manufacturing, construction and maintenance work, welders are responsible for fusing metal materials by using high temperatures and manipulating heat and tools. These specialists are often trained in a number of welding, cutting, fitting and restoring techniques. Welders might work for large companies, privately or on teams. They must follow safety rules and guidelines to ensure their own safety and the safety of others in the workplace.
What Does it Take to Become a Welder?
The state of Illinois does not require certification for general welders, but most employers require that applicants have a high school diploma or GED. While welders can also learn their trade on the job, many employers prefer formal training through programs approved by the American Welding Society (AWS), so that new welders come into the workplace with skills.
Illinois Welding Programs of Study
Regardless of background or economic status, there are free and tuition-based welding training programs available to everyone in Illinois. Some examples are:
- Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC). For unemployed and low-income adults in Chicago, this free 14-week welding program teaches basic welding skills to help prepare applicants for a career. JARC’s training includes skills in Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), one of the most widely used welding techniques. Graduates of the JARC program are eligible to earn American Welding Society (AWS) credentials. Additionally, participants receive job placement help and free access to tutors.
- Midwest Technical Institute (MTI). This school offers a 30-week (or 7-month) Journeyman Welding Program resulting in the award of a diploma. Day and night welding classes are available to those in Moline, Springfield and East Peoria. Upon graduation, welders are certified in the properties of metals, cutting techniques, safety procedures and welding vocabulary. Additional training can be completed in the Journeyman Welder II program, which requires an additional 10 weeks of hands-on training.
Licensing to Become a Welder
While welder licensing is not offered or required in Illinois, welders in this state can more easily find entry-level jobs in the workforce if they have trained and registered as Certified Welders (CW), a certification regulated by the AWS. By completing a program of study at a trade school or in a free AWS program, welders can choose to learn all welding techniques or they may specialize in just one type, such as arc welding. Many welders choose to earn higher credentials, eventually becoming Certified Welding Inspectors or Certified Welding Supervisors.
Career Statistics for Welders
In 2016, there were 13,700 welders, cutters, solderers and brazers employed in Illinois, with the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) predicting a 4.9 percent increase by 2026. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a mean welder income of $18.71 per hour or $41,050 annually in Illinois.
Where to Work as a Welder in Illinois
There are generally more welders in highly populated cities, so it comes as no surprise that in 2017, Illinois welders were employed at the highest levels in Chicago and its suburb areas. There were 13,890 welders employed in Chicago that year, while all other areas of the state employed less than 1,000 each. However, in 2017, the highest paid welders in Illinois worked in Bloomington, making an average of $25.41 per hour or $52,860 annually. The lowest paid were in Champaign-Urbana area, where they made an average of $16.58 per hour.
With little to no training requirement and a growing availability of welding jobs throughout Illinois, this career is an excellent choice for those looking to enter a field of trade and who enjoy working with various metal tools.