How to Become a Welder in Montana
A welder is responsible for fusing many types of metal and metal components. This is a profession that requires a high level of skill and technique. A career in welding is great for those who enjoy industries like machinery manufacturing and construction. Welders must be proficient in not only fabrication but soft skills like teamwork and communication as well. Montana has a growing welding industry with many opportunities available.
Welding Work in Montana
The only requirement to begin work as a welder in Montana is a high school diploma or GED. However, most employers will also require some type of welding certification. Basic welding techniques can be learned during a training course and with on-the-job experience, but welders will have more job opportunities with the more certifications they earn. Montana has a high demand for skilled laborers, and some employers will pay for additional training.
Developing Welding Skills
One of the most nationally recognized certifications can be obtained from the American Welding Society (AWS). Although Montana does not require it, most states prefer that welders have taken part in the Certified Welding Educator Program. This is a certified course that helps students prepare for assessments to further their career in welding. The AWS accreditation also allows you to learn new welding methods and techniques.
Welding Schools in Montana
Once the AWS certification is complete, students may look for a two- or four-year degree program that will create even more opportunities. One of the highest paid welding professions is a welding engineer. This career path requires a bachelor’s degree, and some engineers go on to obtain a master’s degree.
The state of Montana has many schools for those who wish to pursue a career in welding, including:
- University of Montana, Missoula. Missoula is one of the few sizable cities in Montana. The University’s welding technology program has courses that provide training in the metals industry. Students who enroll in the Associate of Applied Science degree course will become certified to AWS standards. This is a two-year program. Students are presented with a Certificate of Applied Science after the first year is completed. This course is in high demand and has limited space.
- Helena College, Helena. Helena is the other sizeable city in an otherwise rural state. This college offers students an Industrial Welding and Metal Fabrication degree program. With state-of-the-art equipment and one of the 10 national training facilities for Miller Electric, this program is also affiliated with the AWS. Classes are affordable, and the toolset for the entire program costs less than $1,000. Students receive technical, theoretical and hands-on training for six semesters.
Career Outlook and Salary Overview
Montana has a fast-growing need for certified and skilled welders. The U.S. Department of Labor expects the welding industry to increase by 16.3 percent over the next seven years. This puts Montana at number 13 in the U.S. for welding job growth. Within the state, careers in welding will be in high demand and continue to grow with a projected average of 190 new job openings every year. That is a high number since, according to the Word Population Review, Montana has less than seven people for every square mile of land.
Salaries for welders in Montana are average for the U.S. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that the average yearly wage was $38,300 in 2017. The average hourly rate for welders was $18.41 that same year. The annual and hourly salaries can range from very high to lower than average, based on the certifications a welder has.
Working as a Welder in Montana
Montana is the third largest state but only the 48th most populated in the U.S., according to a 2010 U.S. Census. That means there are many welding opportunities for new and experienced welders alike. However, because the state is so sparsely populated, it is likely that welders will make more money in the urban areas of Helena, Billings or Missoula. A top earner in one of these cities can earn as much as $59,900 per year. Entry-level welders can expect to make between $13.80 and $14.00 per hour in less populated areas of Montana.
Welders in Montana earn more than similar jobs in the state. Some examples of high-paying welding jobs include sheet metal worker and chemical technician. Forklift operators and electronic equipment assemblers are on the lower end of pay. Montana has many career possibilities with a range of certifications available.