Once you have determined to make your career in welding, your next concern is how to become a welder. In the beginning, people are always confused about choosing the right path to become a welder. So, welding school or apprenticeship, which one should you choose?
Both welding school and apprenticeship can lead you to a successful welding career. While welding schools offer a mix of theoretical and practical learning, an apprenticeship under an expert welder means more practical knowledge.
In this article, I am going to talk about various aspects of welding school and welding apprenticeship so that you can find out the right path for yourself. Remember that there is no right path to become a welder. It depends on your mindset and how you want to learn welding skills.
Learning Welding In Welding Schools
You will find a lot of people who prefer to learn to weld practically. However, nowadays, many employers prefer applicants who have formal education on welding from a welding school/vocational school. This is because students of welding schools not only learn welding skills but also learn how to run a welding business.
So, if you are planning to enroll in a welding training program, you have to choose between a vocational school or community college.
Remember, you should get your higher secondary certificate or equivalent educational qualifications to get into any welding training program. Then, you have to find a vocational school where you can learn welding skill training programs under the skilled trades training programs.
Vocational schools will provide you with practical training on welding which you may face in the job sector. You will get educated on the theories of the welding business as well. The instructors are certified welders. They give practical lessons to the students and guide them to the right path.
After learning from different courses, students practice the newly gained skills on projects and assignments. In any vocational school, welding programs must cover welding techniques, pipefitting skills, blueprint reading, and shop safety. They also get the opportunity to apply their skills in the field.
It usually takes seven to eight months to complete welding training programs from a vocational school. After getting their diploma from the school, students can apply for entry-level jobs in different fields of welding such as:
- Aircraft welding
- Pipe welding
- Structural welding
- Thin alloy welding
There are many community colleges that offer similar welding programs as vocational schools. However, in these colleges, you have to take other general education courses like math, history, and English.
As you have to do some extra general classes, it will take a longer time to graduate. Normally, it will take two years to complete your welding training program at a community college. But students can also complete their training according to their schedule. Thus, it can take more than two years to get the diploma.
Besides, if you want to learn more about communicating with clients or making business deals for a welding business, then a welding training course from a community college is the best choice for you.
Pros of Welding Schools
Both Welding schools and apprenticeship programs have their own advantages. Compared to typical apprenticeship programs, learning welding from schools has the following benefits:
- Students are educated on different aspects of welding and learn how to apply those theories in practical situations.
- The training programs are career-focused. After graduating, you will know exactly what to do to advance your welding career.
- Training also includes developing soft skills like communication skills, writing skills, time management, and budget maintaining.
- Career service offices help students to create resumes and CVs for future jobs. They also provide job opportunities for students.
- Experienced and certified welders teach students about all the basics of welding.
- Students can adjust their class time based on their schedules.
Cons of Welding Schools
No doubt, welding schools try their best to train students in the welding business. However, the focus on formal education and the limited time frame can affect learning. Here are some cons of learning welding from welding schools:
- Attending a welding school means you have to pay the tuition fees for the courses. Moreover, the chance of earning money while studying is not very common in welding schools. However, many schools provide financial support to worthy students.
- Students who just get into the business may have the textual knowledge of welding, but they have limited practice. Thus, they may have to learn some things practically all over again.
Learning Welding Through Welding Apprenticeship
If you want to learn welding without spending your money, you can always choose to do an apprenticeship under an expert welder or journeyman. Once you have gotten your higher school degree or equivalent education, you can start searching for welding apprenticeship opportunities.
Now, finding the write apprenticeship opportunity can be a bit of a challenge. But if you look wisely, you can secure an apprenticeship job. For this, you need a strong desire to work hard and new things with patience.
You can first start by contacting the local unions of your area. They might be tougher to get, but you will also get better pay for working for them. Besides, working with a local union means lots of welding jobs which means gathering practical knowledge. You can also check government websites for welding apprenticeship opportunities.
You have to face interview sessions with the unions and the mentors. Do not worry if you have little to no knowledge of welding right away. The interview is only to check your sincerity and willingness to learn the skills of welding.
When you become a welding apprentice, you will get the opportunity to learn directly from an expert welder. Usually, it takes three to four years to complete your apprenticeship. Sometimes it can also take up to five years. It depends on how much you want to learn.
The best part of an apprenticeship is you will also get paid while you are learning from others. The payment may not be a lot but it is still an advantage compared to learning from welding schools.
Pros of Welding Apprenticeship
There are some advantages of learning welding through apprenticeship. Here is how you can get benefited:
- An apprentice learns everything from a licensed and experienced journeyman. Working side by side with an expert can teach you far more than the theoretical lectures of a classroom.
- You can gather a lot of work experience which will come in handy in the future job hunt.
- You do not have to pay any money to learn welding skills. On top of that, you will get paid for helping your mentor.
- There is a higher chance of getting a job through your mentor in the future if you manage to maintain a good relationship. Mentors can also introduce their apprentices to other expert welders.
Cons of Welding Apprenticeship
Although apprenticeship seems a great idea, it also has some challenges. It is better if you are aware of these challenges before you think about going for an apprenticeship:
- First of all, completing an apprenticeship under a mentor takes a long time. You should be committed to spending three to five years learning the skills.
- It is quite difficult to get an apprenticeship opportunity. You have to be able to show that you are passionate about learning new skills.
- As an apprentice, you have to learn everything from scratch. Something may seem difficult to learn while others seem boring. But you must patiently do whatever your mentor instructs you to do.
By now, you must have learned about the pros and cons of welding school or apprenticeship. Both options are great for making a career in welding, but you have to choose the right one for yourself.
You can choose a welding school to learn the basics of welding fast, but you have to pay for that. On the other hand, choose an apprenticeship to earn some money while learning welding skills.