How to Become a Welder in Michigan
A career in welding is a choice many young people are turning to for several reasons. It’s a career that doesn’t require extensive schooling, and it provides interesting, skilled work, job security and a solid income.
Welders in Michigan work in a variety of industries using welding equipment to join pieces of metal together. They are responsible for reading plans and calculating measurements, inspecting materials, and using torches and other equipment to fix and manufacture metal parts.
Requirements for Working as a Welder in Michigan
The state of Michigan has no licensing or certification requirements for welders, but individual employers may. This is skilled work, so you will need to learn how to do the job. You can seek out an employer willing to take you on as an apprentice, which typically requires that you at least have a high school diploma or GED.
A more common way to learn welding is to enroll in and complete a post-secondary program at a community or technical college. These programs usually take two years or less to finish and confer an associate’s degree or a certificate or diploma.
Welding Technician Programs
There are many welding programs in Michigan. Some are even available to high school students through career and vocational programs, although most are at the college level.
- Baker College, Owosso. High school graduates in the Flint area can complete the certificate program in welding. It prepares graduates for entry-level positions and teaches students several different types of welding, as well as cutting and brazing. The classes are mostly hands-on, giving students the ability to practice new skills. Coursework includes 27 total credit hours.
- Macomb Community College, Warren. Students in the metro-Detroit area have access to this program, offering either a basic or advanced welding certificate. Each program takes about eight months to complete and includes hands-on courses in different types of welding. Total in-state tuition costs are $2,601 and $3,109 for basic and advanced welding.
- Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids. On the west side of the state, students in the Grand Rapids area may choose to complete a certificate or a degree program in welding technology. This school has one of the largest welding training facilities in the region, providing students with the best equipment and technology for learning this trade. The certificate program takes just one year to complete and can be applied toward the two-year degree program.
Certification and Licensing for Welders
While the state of Michigan does not require certification or licensing for welders, many employers do. The leader in welding certification is the American Welding Society (AWS). The most basic level of certification is the AWS Certified Welder program. To achieve this certification, you need to pass an exam, but you do not have to have any particular degree or training to qualify for taking it.
Other types of certification offered by AWS include Certified Welding Inspector, Certified Welding Educator, Certified Welding Engineer and Certified Welding Sales Representative, and others. Getting certified is a valuable way to prove to employers that you have industry-standard skills in welding and in specialty areas.
Outlook for Careers and Salary Expectations
The overall outlook for welding careers is positive, with about six percent growth in positions throughout the country. In Michigan, current growth is four percent, but this amounts to more than 500 jobs available for new welders in the coming years.
The average salaries for welders in Michigan are $18.62 per hour and $38,730 per year, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experienced welders and those with specialized skills can earn $53,900 per year and more.
Working as a Welder in Michigan
Welding is a physically-demanding career. Be prepared to work 40 or more hours per week, to stand a lot and to have to fit into awkward spots to get the job done. Most welders are employed by manufacturers in construction, power plants, refineries, shipbuilding and aerospace. In Michigan, the automotive industry is a big source of employment for welders. Look for the most opportunities for work in and around the cities of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Lansing.