Beginning Your Career as a Welder in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the steel industry makes up a large part of the workforce. Some of the most important steel workers are welders, who are responsible for the creation, joining and cutting of metal materials. If you’re looking for a job in Pennsylvania’s steel industry, have an eye for following diagrams and charts and want to master powerful tools, welding may be the ideal career for you. Welders may construct highway structures such as bridges, cut and join pipes or work on building structures.
Skills for Becoming a Welder
To become a welder, you should at least earn your high school diploma or GED and have some experience in the field of welding, whether through a welding training program or hands-on work experience. Beginning welders might start as welder aides or apprentices and work their way up to higher positions such as welder supervisors, inspectors and educators.
Welding Schools and Training Programs
With a large demand for welders across the country, educational options are everywhere. Check out these popular welding programs in Pennsylvania, among many more:
- Triangle Tech. Located in Pittsburgh, this American Welding Society (AWS) accredited school offers a Welding and Fabrication Technology Associate Degree in Specialized Technology (AST). Students complete AWS Plate and Structural Weld Certification and may also complete the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) certification for pipe fitting.
- Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). For a combination of classroom and hands-on welding training, look into this school, which is accredited by the National Center for Construction Education Research (NCCER). Students at CCP learn common techniques such as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), Oxy-fuel Welding (OFC), brazing and soldering. To be accepted into CCP’s Welding Technology program, applicants must graduate from high school, demonstrate an understanding of geometry and have good hand-eye coordination. The program is 300 credit hours or approximately four months.
Pennsylvania Welder Licensing and Certification
Many welders do not need to hold certification or any type of license, but the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry says that Pennsylvania contractor welders working on home improvement must hold licensure with the state. Some cities may even have local requirements for construction workers. Regardless of regulations, many employers prefer that entry-level welders be certified by the AWS as Certified Welders (CW), because they decrease safety liabilities and are trained to produce quality work.
Welder Career Outlook and Pay Rates
Because of the demand for welders’ services in Pennsylvania’s steel industry, welders experience healthy job markets with a slightly higher than average income. In 2017, Pennsylvania welders earned a mean income of $20.63 per hour or $42,910 annually, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Pennsylvania welders’ incomes were slightly higher than the national average welder income of $19.35 that same year.
The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) estimated that 16,430 welders were employed in Pennsylvania in 2016. That number is expected to increase by 6.6 percent from 2016 to 2026 as the increase in welding technology and demand for welders’ services grows.
Demand for Pennsylvania Welders by Area
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh employed the most welders in 2017, according to the BLS. The highest earning welders that year were found in Williamsport and Philadelphia, with mean incomes of $26.13 and $24.43 per hour, respectively. On the BLS’s scale of employment per 1,000 jobs, the Chambersburg-Waynesboro area ranked highest with a score of 9.057.
Generally, the more skills a welder gains, the higher they are paid. The career possibilities for Pennsylvania welders are endless, as there are many skills to be mastered and the career is transferable across the country.