How to Become a Welder in Washington
A welder’s primary task is to permanently fuse pieces of metal, which they accomplish using a variety of methods. They work in many different industries and are depended on to keep machinery of all types and sizes running, from assembly line machines to oil rigs. It’s physical work and can be strenuous, but you can find a lot of satisfaction in finishing a project well.
What You Need to Become a Welder in Washington
Welding certification isn’t required in Washington, but it does open up more opportunities in the trade and give you a competitive advantage. It also provides more job security: employers are more likely to retain welders with a certificate than welders without. Your certificate is proof of competence in your field. Also, because welding is such a physical job, it’s important to have good health and a high level of fitness.
Where You Can Learn to Be a Welder
There are multiple ways to learn how to weld, including on-the-job experience, but earning a certificate or degree will assure potential employers that you have strong skills in the trade.
- Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Located in Kirkland, LWIT offers specialized certificate programs, an Associate of Applied Science degree and certification tests for program graduates and experienced welders. Their tests are approved by the Washington Association of Building Officials (WABO). LWIT’s introductory welding courses are the least expensive, with a current cost of $5,082, while their associate’s degree program costs $13,460 at this time.
- Everett Community College. EVCC’s campus in the north end of Everett is home to two Associate in Technical Arts programs and four certificate programs; their three specialized certificates are in sub-arc welding, TIG welding and aerospace fabrication. Each of the two degree programs cost about $10,000 at this time, not including books and fees.
- Spokane Community College. With campuses in Spokane, Colville and Newport, SCC is an accessible option for residents of northeastern Washington. Their certificate in welding and fabrication can currently cost from $4,500 for the minimum graduation requirements to about $7,500 for those taking additional courses.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The projected growth rate for the welding trade is 8.4 percent between 2016 and 2026, half again the projected national growth rate. This will result in an average of 1,160 job openings per year. Welding jobs throughout the state also pay well over the minimum wage, with half of welders making $22.99 per hour or more. Fifty percent of salaried welders make over $47,830 a year.
Working as a Welder in Washington
With welding in high demand across multiple industries, including automotive, construction and manufacturing, job opportunities can be found throughout the state. The majority of these positions are in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area, especially in and around Seattle. You might also decide to start your own business. This requires tenacity and a strong work ethic, but for those with an entrepreneurial spirit it can be a rewarding venture. However you decide to start, you can find a good career in welding.