How to Begin a Welding Career in Wisconsin
Welders are responsible for the fusing and cutting of metal parts such as steel construction framing, piping and automobile parts. The construction of items using metal crosses through many industries, and in each it takes specially trained welders to handle the heat levels and tools necessary for working with these metals. Welders in Wisconsin must be physically fit enough to stand for long hours, bend over and lift heavy power tools. They must also be able to follow safety standards for the protection of themselves and others on their team.
Wisconsin Welder Qualifications
Many employers prefer welders to hold a high school diploma or equivalent and some technical training in order to ensure that they do a good job and are skilled in welding safety standards. Other general requirements for welders include physical stamina, the ability to read and interpret blueprints, and basic math skills. These skills can be learned through schooling or on-the-job training. For those who wish to train in welding but cannot afford traditional program costs, some schools in Wisconsin offer free classes funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Where to Study Welding
Certifications from the American Welding Society (AWS) or programs of study aligned with the AWS’s SENSE program are respected and preferred by most employers. Below are some options for welding schools in Wisconsin:
- Blackhawk Technical College (BTC). At the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton, WI, students can complete a 33-credit Technical Diploma in Welding. Classes are offered online, in online-classroom hybrid format and in person. BTC students may train in Oxygen-Fuel Cutting (OFC), Plasma Arc Cutting (PAC), Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) and Flux Core Arc Welding (FCAW), among other techniques. Previous education or experience welding may count toward requirements as Credit for Prior Learning.
- Madison Area Technical College (MATC). This school offers a one-year Technical Diploma in Welding at the Madison-Truax and Fort Atkinson campuses. The diploma prepares students for a career in many welding fields, including pipe welding and work with numerous metal materials. To earn Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) certification only, students may complete a GMAW clas at the Portage campus. Additionally, students can complete an 11-credit course (one semester) of further study to become certified in metal fabrication in addition to welding.
License Requirements for Welders
In the state of Wisconsin, welders are unable to perform structural welding practices without holding certification by passing a test administered by a Wisconsin State-Certified Weld Test Conductor. Other than that, there are no specific state requirements for welders.
Employment and Income Predictions for Welders
In the state of Wisconsin, welders enjoy positive employment and income rates. The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) reported that 14,260 welders, cutters, solderers and brazers were employed throughout the state of Wisconsin in 2016. By 2026, that employment rate is predicted to increase by 6.7 percent.
Wisconsin welders earned a strong mean income of $20.60 per hour or $42,840 annually in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Further Wisconsin Welder Information
Milwaukee employed 3,010 welders in 2017, making it the highest employed city for welders in the state that year. Welder salaries were reported to be the highest in Sheboygan in 2016, with an average income of $25.39 hourly, or $52,810 annually, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) for the State of Wisconsin offers additional guidance for those who wish to start their own welding businesses. It also profiles professional businesses in the field that have been successful thanks to the department’s efforts.