Climbing the Career Ladder: Advancement Options in Welding

welder working in dark place

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Are you thinking about becoming a welder? With the nation facing a skilled trades shortage, there will likely be plenty of jobs for metal joiners with the right skill sets.[1]

But you probably don’t want to do the exact same job for the rest of your life, do you? The good news is you won’t have to as a welder. The field offers opportunities for career advancement as workers gain more experience, training and certifications.[2]

Discover where a welding career could take you below.

Career Advancement Options in Welding

When considering a new career, checking whether or not there’s room for growth can be a crucial step. This is especially important if you want to be continually challenged and take on new responsibilities in your work. Fields with little opportunity for advancement can leave employees bored and dissatisfied.[3]


Welder Definition

Welder Requirements

Welder Career Opportunities

  • Welders can find manual welding production jobs in plants manufacturing pressure vessels, sheet metal products, boilers, storage tanks, railroads, HVAC equipment, petroleum and energy exploration products and ships.
  • Metal joining professionals will also be needed in the construction industry as welding steel buildings becomes more popular. [7]
  • Research fields and the military are two other employers of welders.[8]

Have You Considered a Career in the Skilled Trades?

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Welding Technician

Welding Technician Definition

  • Welding technicians have been described as “the link between the welder and the engineer.” They are typically tasked with interpreting engineers’ plans and instructions. Duties include supervising, inspecting and applying the correct type of welding process, as well as determining how to improve those processes.[9]

Welding Technician Requirements

  • Two years of vocational training at a trade school.[10]
  • Computer skills.[11]
  • Work experience as an entry-level welder.[12]

Welding Technician Career Opportunities

  • Fields employing welding technicians include construction, assembly and research.[13][14]

Welding Supervisor, Instructor or Inspector[15]

welding instructor and supervisor

Welding Supervisor

Welding Supervisor Definition
  • A welding supervisor oversees and manages the operations in a welding shop or company. He or she implements operational plans and processes designed by supervising welders, engineers and technicians.[16][17]
  • Goals of the welding supervisor can include improving the productivity and safety of the operation and quality of the finished product while reducing costs.[18]
Welding Supervisor Requirements
  • While certification may not be required for all welding supervisor positions, it can prove to potential employers that an applicant has specific skills and knowledge.
  • In order to qualify for the American Welding Society’s Certified Welding Supervisor certification program, an individual must provide proof of three years of practical welding experience in the construction, fabrication or related industries.[19]
Welding Supervisor Career Opportunities
  • Welding supervisors manage operations in the construction, manufacturing, fabrication and repair industries.[20]

Welding Instructor

Welding Instructor Definition
  • Generally, welding instructors use their welding training and practical experience to teach others the trade.[21]
Welding Instructor Requirements
  • In many cases, welding instructors have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in welding technology and several years of hands-on experience in the field.[22]
  • The American Welding Society offers a Certified Welding Educator program for those who would like to validate their skills through certification.[23]
Welding Inspector Career Opportunities
  • Employment opportunities may be available at institutions offering secondary or technical education programs, as well as in private industries requiring highly skilled welders.[24]

Welding Inspector

Welding Inspector Definition
  • These professionals examine the bonds and connections between metals to ensure welding products are safe and sound.[25]
Welding Inspector Requirements
  • A combination of technical training and work experience is a common path to becoming a welding inspector.[26]
  • If seeking the American Welding Society’s Certified Welding Inspector certification, a higher level of education is required for those with less work experience and vice versa.[27]
Welding Inspector Career Opportunities
  • Industries whose products require high standards of safety and quality assurance, such as auto manufacturing, shipbuilding and aerospace, are some employers of welding inspectors.[28]

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Definition
  • Also called “materials engineers,” these professionals develop, process and test the materials used in the manufacture of a host of goods. Aircraft wings, biomedical devices and computer chips are some examples. In the case of welding engineers, the materials under examination would largely be metals.[29]
Welding Engineer Requirements
  • A bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering is necessary to become a materials engineer.[30]
Welding Engineer Career Opportunities
  • The following are top industries for materials engineers:
  • Transportation equipment manufacturing.
  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing.
  • Primary metal manufacturing.
  • Research and development in the life, physical and engineering sciences.
  • Engineering services.[31]

Welding: A Career Path with Plenty of Growth Opportunities

There are numerous roles an individual can play in the field of welding. Since the fundamental welding processes of SMAW, MIG, TIG and FCAW are used across a variety of industries, workers can move horizontally in the field after basic welding training.[32] With experience, additional training and certifications, a welder can also move vertically into higher-level positions.

With the right combination of experience, skills and credentials, there are many places a welding job could take you.

Additional Sources

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