How to Become a Welder in South Dakota
Welding is considered a career that is high in demand. Welders are skilled workers who join metal together using torches or other power tools. They also help to build and repair metal structures and must be able to read blueprints. Formal training is not required, but the more skilled you are, the better chance you have of securing a job. With the growth rate for welding jobs in South Dakota being high and continuing to grow in the coming years, now is the time to consider working as a welder in the state.
Requirements for Welders in South Dakota
There is no legislation in South Dakota concerning the certification of welders in the state. Therefore, it is left up to the employer to determine whether they require their employees to hold certification or licensure. The highest education welders are generally required to have is a high school diploma or its equivalent. Again, this is something that is left up to the employer, but most do not require more education than that for entry-level welding work. However, employers have reported it getting harder to find skilled welders to hire.
Completing an educational training program can prepare you to work in this field and can also prepare you for certification through the American Welding Society (AWS) or other certification. Becoming certified is not a state requirement, but it is preferred by some employers.
Training to Become a Welder in South Dakota
Earning a certificate in welding technology, or even completing a diploma or degree program, will help arm you with the skills you need to get started in this career. South Dakota has options for you if you are looking for a welding training program. Consider the following:
- Lake Area Technical Institute. Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown provides students with a fast-tracked nine-month diploma option, and an eighteen-month Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in welding degree option. They also offer a marketing option and precision machining option to the welding degree. Graduates of the program will be prepared to take the AWS certification exam.
- Southeast Technical College. Southeast Tech, located in Sioux Falls, offers four Welding Technology Certificates that students can complete in just eight weeks. These certifications are: Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Gas Metal Arc Welding, Flux Core Arc Welding and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding. The Gas Metal Arc Welding certificate can also be taken as a night program that lasts sixteen weeks. Students of these programs are eligible to take the AWS certification test upon completion of the program. Award Types: 1-Year DiplomaTotal Credit Required to Graduate: 32 (Diploma)
Certification and Licensing Requirements
Certification is not required to work as a welder in South Dakota, however many employers prefer to hire someone who is certified. There are several paths you can take to earn certification as a welder, but the most common method is to become certified through the AWS. When employers do require certification, this is usually the one that they prefer. You must pass a written and practical exam to get this certification. Most welding training programs will prepare you to take this exam.
Salary and Employment Outlook
The need for welders in South Dakota is rapidly growing. The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) predicts that the number of welding jobs in the state is expected to increase by 12.9 percent in the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026. There were 3,150 welders employed in the state in 2016, and the PMP predicts that there will be 3,560 welders working there in 2026.
In 2017, the average hourly rate for welders in South Dakota was $18.08, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average annual salary for welders in the state that same year was $37,610. Certified and experienced welders can earn more than the annual average, with some making as much as $48,810 annually.
Working as a Welder in South Dakota
Since welders work with metal and metal is used in many industries, the possibilities for welding jobs are extensive. They may work on aircrafts, automobiles, boats and ships and in construction. South Dakota is second in the U.S. for the highest concentration of welding jobs; therefore, job opportunities should be available throughout the state. Cities like Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Watertown are great places to begin your job search.
Welders usually work 40-hour weeks and often work overtime. Welding is also a physically demanding career where you might have to crawl, kneel and stand for long periods of time. However, it can be a rewarding career. If you can read blueprints, are good at reading and math, like working with your hands and are interested in a well-paying, stable career, then you should consider becoming a welder in South Dakota.