How to Begin a Welding Career in Kansas
Welders are the skilled professionals responsible for bonding and cutting metal materials in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and other industries. This career field is very broad, and welders may work in a variety of settings depending on their specific skill sets. While some welders work indoors in manufacturing settings, others may dive underwater or perform their work outdoors. If you enjoy working with your hands, understand math and science, and want a career in which you can continue to grow, becoming a welder, or welding technician, may be the ideal path for you.
Becoming a Welder
Most welders in Kansas are required to hold at least a high school diploma or GED and some industry knowledge acquired through experience or professional training. Some welders begin their careers by taking shop classes in high school and eventually becoming welders’ apprentices. Others study either basic or advanced welding skills in vocational and technical schools in order to enter the workforce with certifications that employers value.
Kansas Welding Schools and Programs
Schools throughout Kansas offer a variety of welding classes in both professional welding and hobby welding. Many schools offer summer and weekend welding classes for the convenience of working students. Training options for welders in Kansas include:
- Heartland Welding Academy. Located in Wichita, this welding school’s target industries include nuclear and non-nuclear power, oil and gas, aerospace and manufacturing and other popular welding fields. The 18-week welding program includes core classes in Pipe and Structural Welding Education, Professional Development and Safety Education. Further training for additional certifications can also be completed.
- Wichita State University Tech (WSU Tech). Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (NCAHLC), WSU’s welding program is aligned with the American Welding Society (AWS) SENSE guidelines. Students at WSU can earn their Associate of Applied Science in Welding degree (62 credit hours), Technical Certificate in Welding (46 credit hours) or Fast Track Welding Certificate program (only 19 credit hours).
Welder Certification Requirements
Kansas does not require certification for welders, but AWS certification can be helpful to gain employment. The AWS offers its own certification programs and provides a set of SENSE guidelines for welding schools to offer quality welding education. By training under SENSE guidelines, Kansas welders can learn industry standards that will prepare them to succeed in the workforce.
Pay and Employment for Kansas Welders
In 2016, there were 6,030 welders, cutters, solderers and brazers employed in Kansas. The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) projects that employers will demand even more welders in the future, with a 4.2 percent increase expected by 2026.
Kansas welders earned slightly higher paychecks in 2017 than their counterparts across the country. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting a mean income of $20.76 per hour, or $43,180 annually, for Kansas welders that year, the national average welder income was $19.35 per hour or $40,240 annually. The AWS also reports that women welders are in high demand in Kansas.
Welding in Kansas
Welders are in demand across the state, but in 2017, the highest welder employment numbers were reported in Wichita and the Northeast nonmetropolitan Kansas area, with 1,480 and 1,290 welders counted in those areas, respectively. That same year, the best paid Kansas welders were located in Lawrence, making an average of $26.98 per hour-well above the state and national average.
If you’re not ready for a career in professional welding, hobby welding is another option, which allows you to create art, automotive and craft projects using welding techniques. Take introductory welding classes to learn the basics of the trade.