How to Begin a Welding Career in Oklahoma
Welders play an important role in the fields of construction, agriculture, bridges and roads, product manufacturing and other industries that rely on metal. These professionals bond, cut and create many types of metals using complex heating processes and tools. Arc welding is the most common form of welding today, but there are hundreds of other techniques and subsets to be learned. By collecting unique and advanced welding skills, welders greatly increase their career options and incomes. Welders can be found working on cars for NASCAR, diving underwater to perform welding tasks and traveling around the country providing pipe fitting services.
Becoming a Welder
Welders in Oklahoma should first earn their high school diploma or GED equivalent, as most employers will prefer to hire high school graduates. While in high school, you might be able to get a feel for welding by taking shop classes that introduce welding safety and basic concepts. Welding training beyond high school is highly recommended but not required. Welding schools offer a range of classes, certificates and degrees to students who want to add credentials to their resumes and receive higher pay.
Where to Take Welding Classes
The following Oklahoma welding schools are accredited by the American Welding Society (AWS), which offers a standardized set of guidelines to member schools to support quality welding training:
- Tulsa Welding School. This school offers a seven-month Professional Welding Training Program and Associate of Occupational Studies in Welding Technology degree, which takes 14 months to complete. Ninety-seven percent of graduates are hired within 180 days of graduation, according to the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
- Four M Welding School. Another welding school located in Tulsa, this school boasts class sizes of no more than 15 students per instructor and reports that 95 percent of graduates move on to find employment. From shop welding to professional welding, classes range in length from eight to 22 weeks, depending on type of study. Night classes are available for the convenience of students with busy schedules.
American Welding Society (AWS) Certification
While welder certification is not required in Oklahoma, it is beneficial to become certified in a program accredited by the AWS. By earning one of the AWS’s many welding certifications, such as Certified Welder (CW), Certified Welding Supervisor (CWS) or Certified Welding Engineer (CWE), you can increase your potential for earning higher incomes while advancing in your career.
Oklahoma Welder Pay and Employment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),Oklahoma welders’ mean income was $21.36 per hour or $44,440 annually in 2017. Their income was relatively high compared to the national welder mean income of $19.35 per hour or $40,240 annually that same year.
The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) predicts a steady increase in the demand for Oklahoma welders in the near future, with a six percent increase in employment levels predicted by the year 2026. As of 2016, 9,860 welders were employed in the entire state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s projected welder increase matches the national projection of six percent for welder employment growth across the country.
Welding in Oklahoma
The largest numbers of welders in Oklahoma worked in Tulsa and Oklahoma City in 2016, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Welders were paid the highest average rates in Enid, Oklahoma, with a mean income of $30.60 per hour. Highest rates of welder employment per 1,000 jobs were found in Tulsa and the Southeast and Northwest nonmetropolitan areas.
If you’re looking for an exciting career working with heat and powerful tools, consider becoming a welder in Oklahoma. If you travel or plan on moving, it’s beneficial that welder experience and certification is generally transferable wherever you go. Welders are in continuous demand all over the country, so now is a good time to get started in this career.