How to Become a Welder in Louisiana
Welders are skilled workers who join metals together. They work with many metals, including aluminum, brass and stainless steel. There are several different techniques that welders use such as pipeline welding, sheet metal welding and soldering. Welders work in a variety of industries, making it relatively easy to find employment. Since structures are continuing to be built and will need ongoing maintenance and repair, the demand for welders in Louisiana and across the U.S. is strong.
What are the Requirements for Becoming a Welder in Louisiana?
Welders who work in Louisiana are not required to hold certification or licensure. However, there are many employers who prefer to hire someone with either experience or formal training. Some employers also look for welders who have been certified through the American Welding Society (AWS). If you have no training or very little experience, obtaining certification would be wise.
Other requirements for employment generally include a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license and the ability to read blueprints. Math, mechanical and reading skills are also needed to work in this field.
Louisiana Welding Programs
Welding training programs can often be found at community colleges and technical and vocational schools. Certificate and degree programs are available. There are several training options in the state of Louisiana.
- River Parishes Community College. Located in Gonzales, River Parishes offers a 60-credit hour program in Welding Technology. These hours are comprised of general education and elective courses as well as welding courses. The program can be completed in approximately two years, and graduates will receive a technical diploma in Welding Technology upon completion.
- Fletcher Technical Community College. The Thibodaux campus has a one-year technical certificate program and a three-semester diploma program. Graduates of both programs will be prepared to take the AWS certification exam.
- South Louisiana Community College. AT SLCC, students can take a three-semester program that will earn them a technical diploma in welding. Coursework includes Orientation and Safety, Gas Metal Arc Welding and Flux Core Arc Welding, Shielded Metal Arc Welding and Manufacturing Procedures. This program is available at the Abbeville, Crowley, Lafayette, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville and Ville Platte campuses.
If you are interested in apprenticeship training, consider looking into a union such as the Ironworkers Local 623 or the Local Lodge 37. Apprenticeship programs allow students to get paid while they are training on the job. Educational classes are usually taken as well. Apprenticeship programs last anywhere from three to five years. If the apprentice can find an employer to sponsor them, they may not have to pay for the accompanying educational program.
Welding Certification in Louisiana
Certification is not a requirement to work in the welding industry in Louisiana, but if you have little or no experience or training or just want to put yourself ahead of the competition, you may want to consider it. Most welders choose to get their certification through the AWS. There are no requirements to take the exam for this certification; however, most post-secondary welding training programs prepare their students to take this exam. The exam consists of a written test and a practical test. This certification must be renewed every six months.
Career Statistics for Welders in Louisiana
The career of welding is currently experiencing strong growth. Over the next few years, the number of welding jobs in the U.S. is expected to increase by 6 percent. The state of Louisiana is expected to see a 9 percent increase in welding jobs, which is slightly higher than the national rate.
Welders in the state also make pretty decent money. According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Louisiana welders earned an hourly wage of $24.01 in 2017. That same year, the annual average wage for welders was $49,940. Welders who are certified in a specific area of welding or have several years of experience may earn as much as $74,820 annually in the state.
Working as a Welder in Louisiana
Louisiana is home to the fourth largest shipping port in the world, the Port of South Louisiana. So as a welder in the state, working on boats and in shipyards can be expected. Welders in the state can also find work in the automobile industry and construction and manufacturing facilities. Additionally, welders may work on aircraft or bridges. Welders who are certified may go on to work as engineers or fabricators.
Louisiana is the top state in the U.S. for the highest concentration of welder jobs. Therefore, you should be able to find work pretty much anywhere in the state. Some of the cities that are well-known for employing welders include Baton Rouge, Houma, Lake Charles and Thibodaux.
How much do welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers earn in the state of Louisiana?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers in the state of Louisiana made an average of $53,490 per year in 2019. Entry-level welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers earned around $33,150 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $79,040.