How to Become a Welder in North Carolina
Welding is a career that is growing rapidly. Welding employers are finding it hard to hire workers who are skilled in the job field, so completing a training program is a wise move to get you ahead of the competition. Welders work with power tools to bond metal and build and repair metal structures. If there is metal to be worked on, there will be a need for welders, making this an in-demand job. Consider enrolling in a formal educational program to learn what you need to know to work as a welder in North Carolina.
North Carolina Welding Requirements
There are no federal or statewide requirements to work as a welder in North Carolina. This is a profession in which requirements are generally decided upon by the employer. Most employers want to hire someone who has graduated from high school or who has the equivalent of a high school diploma. No other education is required, but most employers prefer to hire someone who has experience or training. Some employers will train on the job, but many don’t. Taking a welding training program will also prepare you to become certified through the American Welding Society, or AWS.
Welding Training Programs in North Carolina
If you are looking to take an educational program to learn the skills you need to get hired as a welder, North Carolina has several options for you. There are several schools that have welding training programs, and many of them offer a variety of programs including certificate, diploma and degree programs. Here are a few to consider:
- Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. ABTCC in Asheville offers students the choice of earning a certificate, diploma or Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in welding technology. Students learn through in-class training and practical labs. The AAS degree covers welding and cutting techniques and helps students understand the science and technology of the job. It can be completed in five semesters or two years. The diploma program is not as in-depth as the degree program and can be completed in three semesters or one year. The certificate program prepares students with the basic knowledge needed for welding and teaches SMAW and GMAW welding. It can be completed in one semester.
- Catawba Valley Community College. Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory has several options for aspiring welders, both adults and students still in high school. They have a Fabrication Certificate in Welding Technology, which takes one year to complete and focuses on cutting and fabrication techniques. They offer a high school pathway to this program, which prepares high school students to earn this certificate. Also available with a high school pathway is a Certificate in Welding Technology that can be completed in one year. Students may choose to earn a diploma in Welding Technology, which can be completed in three semesters or one year. A high school pathway program is available for the diploma. Finally, students may earn a two-year AAS degree in Welding Technology.
- Forsyth Technical College. Forsyth Tech, located in Winston-Salem, has many options for future welders. Students may earn a certificate, diploma or AAS degree in Welding Technology. The certificate and diploma programs can be taken during the day or in the evening for working students. The AAS degree can be completed in two years. The diploma can be completed in one year when taken during the day, and two years with night classes. The certificate can be completed in a fall and spring term when taking day classes, and fall, spring and summer terms when taken at night.
Certification and Licensing Requirements in North Carolina
By law, you do not have to be certified or licensed as a welder to look for work in North Carolina. However, many employers are beginning to prefer hiring certified welders, and they certainly would like to hire someone who is skilled and has training. The Certified Welder certification given by the AWS is the most well-known form of certification for welders and the one that many educational programs will prepare you to take. This certification requires you to pass an exam that shows off your welding skills as well as a written exam.
Career Prospects and Salaries for Welders
Job growth for welders is strong across the United States. In North Carolina, the number of welding jobs available in the state is predicted to increase by 10 percent by the year 2026, opening almost 1,000 new welding positions between now and then.
As far as salary goes, North Carolina welders are paid well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that welders in the state made an average of $40,750 a year in 2017. The top 10 percent of welders in the state were making as much as $57,870 annually that same year.
Jobs Opportunities in North Carolina
Welding is a demanding career, but it can also be rewarding. If you are considering a career in welding you should be able to meet the physical aspects of the job, including but not limited to lifting heavy loads, working in sometimes unsafe environments, standing, kneeling or crouching for long periods of time and working in uncomfortable positions or tight spaces. Welders often work overtime, including holidays and weekends. You may not have to work overtime but expect to work 40-hour weeks.
Most welders find work in the manufacturing industry, but since the scope of their work is so broad, so are their job opportunities. They may also find work in construction, fabrication, quality control, the automotive industry and shipbuilding and repair. Job opportunities are available throughout the state of North Carolina, but look for the most work in some of the bigger cities such as Arden, Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem.