More than 418,000 people worked as welders in the United States in 2020, and that number is only expected to grow.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the amount of welding jobs will increase by 8% between 2020 and 2030, thanks in part to the country’s aging infrastructure, which will need skilled workers to repair or even replace things like bridges and highways.
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers earned a median annual pay of just over $44,000 as of May 2020, according to the BLS.
Some of the highest-paid careers in the welding field include inspecting, underwater welding, and industrial pipe and pipeline welding.
While working as a welder does not require an associate or bachelor’s degree, welders do need some training.
Many schools provide programs that take as little as several months to complete and provide students with the necessary skills to start their careers.
Those who do wish to pursue training beyond that will find several benefits to earning a degree in the field.
People with an associate degree in Welding Engineering Technology typically earn more to start and can go further in their careers, according to the New England Institute of Technology.
Additionally, people interested in taking the American Welding Society Certified Welding Engineer Exam must first earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering and spend a year working as a professional welder.
Read on for a closer look at the 10 best welding schools in the country.
Welder Training and Testing Institute (Allentown, PA)
This Pennsylvania school has spent more than 44 years training welders. Its main and most popular career-level program is the 900-hour Welder Fitter option, which is geared toward people with little or no experience in the field. Students in this program are eligible to receive financial aid.
Beyond that, WTTI students can choose to pursue additional training through the institute’s five Process Specific/Advanced Technique Courses.
These include Standard Welding and Advanced Welder Qualification–Pipe as well as three courses that focus on different types of arc welding: gas tungsten, gas metal, and flux-cored.
These courses require between 60 and 180 hours of training, depending on the subject, and are aimed at welders who have experience working in the field.
Welders looking to get certified also can come to WTTI to take their tests in its accredited facility.
Tulsa Welding School (Tulsa, OK)
People interested in welding careers have several degree options at the Tulsa Welding School, which opened in 1949. In addition to Tulsa, the school has campuses in Jacksonville, Florida, and Houson, Texas.
The shortest of the school’s programs, Professional Welder, is an entry-level course in which students learn the essentials of welding through workshops and hands-on training.
The 10-month Professional Welder with Pipefitting program also provides instruction in plumping, steamfitting, and boilermaking.
In the same vein is the Welding Specialist with Pipefitting program, in which students learn the skills they’ll need to pursue American Welding Society welder certification and also earn a diploma.
TWS’s other degree program is the Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) in Welding Technology. Over 14 months, students build on their existing welding skills while learning about codes, metallurgy, and more.
Elite Welding Academy (Cincinnati, OH)
Elite Welding Academy is a for-profit school that opened in 2006 and today has facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio; Houston, Texas; and South Point, Ohio. It has also received a “Military-Friendly School” rating.
The Structural and Pipe Welding Program involves 1,000 hours of training that prepares students to work as pipe welders as well as in structure and manufacturing welding.
Elite has both daytime and evening classes, with the daytime program involving 40 hours of instruction each week for 26 weeks. Meanwhile, the evening program meets for 24 hours each week for 44 weeks.
Elite also offers the Manufacturing Welding/SP Program only at its South Point campus. In this 240-hour program, students learn about welding and, more specifically, structural welding for the industrial and commercial worlds as well as manufacturing welding for those types of industries.
Vincennes University (Vincennes, IN)
Students at Vincennes University can choose to pursue either a Welding Technology Certificate or an Associate of Science Career/Tech in Welding Technology. Thanks to a partnership between the university and Lincoln Electric, students learn on state-of-the-art, multi-process equipment in new welding stations.
That degree takes two years to complete and prepares students to sit for the American Welding Society certification exam, begin a welding career, or move on to a bachelor’s degree program.
In both programs, students can expect to spend several hours each week trying out their skills in the campus’ welding lab.
Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI)
Ferris State University is home to the biggest Welding Engineering Technology program in the country. Founded in 1984, the program offers an Associate of Applied Science in Welding Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology.
Students now have more laboratory and classroom space to learn in than ever before thanks to an expansion to the university’s Swan Technical Arts Building finished in 2018.
In the lab, they can learn on modern equipment in individual spaces, while the largest classroom now seats up to 82 students and is equipped for student laptop use.
Students must complete 60 credits to earn the associate degree, and they can choose to apply for admission into Ferris’ bachelor’s degree program, which requires students to earn at least 120 total credits.
Modern Welding School (Schenectady, NY)
Students attend the Combination program full-time and complete the 900 required hours in 30 weeks. Classes are available during the daytime only.
In the All-Position program, students learn how to handle types of welding including electric, structural, and acetylene. This part-time program takes place in evenings only and lasts for 45 weeks.
Modern Welding School also serves as a test site for certifications for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Section IX and the New York State Department of Transportation.
Businesses and individuals working in the field can turn to Modern Welding School for custom-designed continuing education sessions available across the country. Additionally, the school offers Hobby Workshops, geared toward people interested in learning the basics of welding to do small projects.
Hobart Institute of Welding Technology (Troy, OH)
Hobart Institute of Welding Technology offers two welding programs that each take less than a year to complete.
The longer program, Combination Structural & Pipe Welding, is a 40-weeks, 1,400-hour course that teaches students about major welding processes to prepare them for all types of welding jobs.
Meanwhile, the Structural Welding program takes 24 weeks and 840 hours to complete and prepares students for entry-level jobs in construction, fabrication, and similar fields.
Both programs give students a chance to test for some of the AWS-QC7 National Welder Certifications as part of the program.
Additionally, Hobart offers individual courses in categories such as Shielded Metal Arc Welding Process and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding Process.
Professionals interested in becoming American Welding Society (AWS)-certified welding inspectors, meanwhile, can take a two-week preparation course at Hobart, which also is an approved AWS testing facility.
New England Institute of Technology (East Greenwich, RI)
New England Institute of Technology’s Welding Engineering Technology program is an associate degree students can earn in 18 months.
The program prepares students for numerous entry-level jobs in the welding realm, including welding engineering technician and material testing technician, but welding technology degree-holders also can work in related fields, such as inspectors or estimators.
Classes provide valuable information beyond basic welding skills, with lessons also focusing on reading blueprints, computer-aided design, and building design.
Daytime and evening classes are available and typically have between 20 and 25 students.
They’ll spend about half of their technical courses in the lab, where they gain-hands on experience. While the school provides students with the necessary tools and other materials, learners will need to buy their own protective lab clothing.
University of Alaska at Anchorage (Anchorage, AK)
Students can both begin and advance their welding careers at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, where all of the faculty members are all Certified Welding Inspectors.
The university offers a Welding Occupational Endorsement Certificate, a one-year, 15-credit program that readies students for entry-level welding jobs.
The Advanced Welding Occupational Endorsement Certificate, meanwhile, also takes a year to complete and provides training in fabricating, welding, and fitting pipes.
It consists of 16 credits, and students also must have two industry-recognized welding qualifications to earn the certificate.
Students in both programs can put what they learn into practice at the school’s 4,000-square-foot welding lab, home to 44 welding booths. The lab features state-of-the-art equipment, including industrial band saws and plasma cutting technology.
Southwestern Illinois College (Belleville, IL)
At Southwestern Illinois College, students may earn an associate degree and start their welding career or move on to a bachelor’s program.
The college’s welding program includes an Associated in Applied Science. Students get an in-depth, hands-on education about different welding techniques and related areas like inspecting and blueprint reading.
From there, students can transfer to Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, to finish a bachelor’s degree.
SIC also has three Welding Technology Certificates (general, advanced, and specialized) as well as a certificate in Advanced Welding Manufacturing.Students can attend classes during the day or at night and can take advantage of the college’s laboratory, which is open six days a week, where they can practice with state-of-the-art machinery.