Becoming a Welding Technician in Kentucky
A career as a welding technician, or welder, in Kentucky can be lucrative. The welding industry is always looking for skilled technicians, so it is a stable vocation.
Welding technicians are experts in fabricating and fusing pieces of metal. They must learn how to read blueprints and understand the differences between metals like tungsten, steel and aluminum, for example. Those in the welding field must also understand design techniques and have knowledge of raw materials. This career is a hands-on role for people who enjoy working in construction or maintenance.
Finding Work as a Welding Technician in Kentucky
There are no specific certification requirements to become a welder in Kentucky. Welding techs can find jobs with just a high school diploma or equivalent. There is typically no work experience required either, and many employers offer on-the-job training for some welding roles. Individual employers will require certain certifications based on the types of jobs you apply for, while many employers offer paid welding apprenticeships.
How to Become a Certified Welding Technician
There are many diploma, degree and certificate options for those who wish to pursue a career in welding technology. The classes and certification you must complete will depend upon on the career path you choose. In most cases, you can find gainful employment with a certificate from the American Welding Society (AWS). Their Certified Welding Educator Program prepares students for certification exams for the state of Kentucky. Their undergraduate program is a level I program that lasts for 48 weeks and is the first step in acquiring additional certifications.
Schools for Welding in Kentucky
Many colleges in Kentucky offer basic welding courses. Some community colleges offer specific welding programs to help you become certified in fields such as fabricating or structural welding. Several Kentucky schools have welding classes with many specialized options, including:
- Jefferson Community and Technical College, Louisville. Jefferson has a certification program for students to obtain an undergraduate certificate in AWS National Skill Stand Level I. Other classes available are for certifications in gas welding, production line welding and pipeline welding. Jefferson also offers customized Academic Program Plans (APP) to help students first achieve an Associate in Arts Degree.
- Somerset Community College, Somerset. Students attending Somerset have 10 certification courses to choose from, including the Level I AWS course. This community college also offers a Combination Welder Diploma, which requires 53-54 credit hours. Somerset participates in American Welding Society SENSE Training and Testing Program. Students who complete their program receive a state certification through the Kentucky Department of Transportation. Classes are available during the day and in the evening, and financial aid assistance is available.
Professional Overview and Wage Expectations
Kentucky has a growing need for welding technicians statewide. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Kentucky welding industry is expected to grow 6 percent by 2026, which is average for the industry. Jobs for welding technicians are expected to remain stable and rise slightly over the next six years.
Salaries are also steady for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in Kentucky. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average annual wage was $38,450 in 2017. The average hourly rate for a welding technician was $17.77 during the same year. Salaries are varied regarding certifications available to welding technicians.
Employment as a Welder in Kentucky
There are more opportunities for welding technicians in larger cities such as Paducah and Louisville, Kentucky. Because welder certifications are so varied, there are many different opportunities across several industries such as maintenance, inspection and construction.
Enrolling in a basic welding class will give you an appropriate foundation to move forward into a more specialized welding field. Some employers are even willing to pay for these classes. Your first welding certificate can be obtained in less than one year.
How much do welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers earn in the state of Kentucky?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers in the state of Kentucky made an average of $40,960 per year in 2019. Entry-level welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers earned around $28,220 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $57,070.