How to Become a Welder in Tennessee
Welding is a stable career in the manufacturing industry. Welders are skilled workers who read blueprints, take measurements and use power tools to cut metal and bond metals together. There are many welding techniques, and the method of welding used will often depend on the type of metal that is being worked on. Having knowledge of the various types of metals and welding is vital to working in this career. To work in the state of Tennessee, you should first enroll in a training program or work under a seasoned welder to gain the skills and knowledge you need.
Requirements for in Welding in Tennessee
Most states do not require specific certification or licensure to work as a welder, and Tennessee is no exception. Being at least 18 years of age, having a high school diploma or GED and a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation are general requirements for this job. Basic reading, math and writing skills are also needed to work as a welder. Many employers will prefer to hire someone who has had training or has experience in this field. Completing a welding technology program at a technical school or community college or completing an apprenticeship program are the best ways to gain this experience. Most educational programs can be completed in two years or less, and apprenticeship programs usually last three to five years.
Welding Technology Programs
Tennessee has many options for those wanting to train to become welders, especially in the Nashville area. Here are a couple of programs for you to consider:
- Lincoln Tech. The Nashville campus of Lincoln Tech prepares students for entry-level work in welding through their Welding and Metal Fabrication Technology program. Students will learn various cutting and welding techniques as well as how to weld in different positions. Practical assignments are completed with each course, and a 10-hour OSHA approved safety orientation class is included.
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT). TCAT has several welding certificate and diploma programs that can be taken either part-time or full-time. Day and night classes are available. Certificate programs include: Welders Helper, Shielded Metal Arc Welder, Gas Metal Arc Welder and Gas Tungsten Arc Welder. These programs range from 84 clock hours to 1,296 hours. The Welder diploma program is also 1,296 clock hours. These programs are available at both the Nashville and Portland campuses.
Certification and Licensing
Statewide certification is not required to work as a welder in Tennessee, but many employers may require it. The most preferred certification is offered by the American Welding Society (AWS). They offer many welding certifications, such as Certified Welding Engineer, but the most basic of them is the Certified Welder. You will need to take a written test as well as demonstrate your welding skills to get this certification. Showing proof of employment as a welder every six months will keep you certified.
Career Outlook and Salaries for Tennessee Welders
Because welding is needed in many industries, welders are high demand across the United States and in Tennessee. The current growth rate for welding jobs in the state is nine percent, and between 600 and 700 new welding jobs are expected to become available in the state in the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026.
Welders in Tennessee make a good living as well. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders in the state were making an hourly average of $18.84 in 2017. Their average annual salary that year was $39,200. The highest earners in the state made as much as $53,460 annually.
Working as a Welder in Tennessee
Welders must be able to lift heavy loads, particularly those weighing 35-50 pounds or more. They must be able to work in varying temperatures and weather conditions. They typically work 40-hour weeks, but often work overtime, holidays and weekends as well.
Welders may work in a variety of industries including automobile, construction, shipping and more. There is work for welders across the state of Tennessee, but Nashville is a great place to start because of the many educational programs available for welders there. Other notable cities to look for welding work include Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis.