How Long Does it Take to Become a Welder in Norfolk, VA?

Are you interested in becoming a welder? This goal is in reach for those living in or around Norfolk, Virginia. If you are already working as a welder, your employer may want you to complete some basic training and take employer-based welding tests. Others might want employees to get a certificate, diploma, or even a degree in welding from a vocational school, technical school, or a community college.

While welders in general need little formal education beyond a high school diploma, there are some advantages to pursuing formal education to enhance your career options.

What a Welder Does

We encounter the work of welders everywhere. Without them, our modern society — from buildings, to boats, to planes, to trains, and all types of equipment — would not exist. The job seems simple — using heat to fuse metal or thermoplastic components together — but it can be complex, requiring knowledge about different kinds of metals, and different kinds of welds. The job requires a degree of physical strength, although women welders are increasingly common today. There are also some hazards associated with welding, from gas fumes, electric shock, fire and explosions, exposure of eyes to arc rays, and exposure of ears to high levels of noise. The job requires the wearing of PPE (personal protective equipment) to maximize safety.

Welding Types

There are different welding techniques that you may need to know, depending on the type of work you plan to do:

  • MIG (metal inert gas) or GMAW (gas metal arc welding). This is the most common industrial welding process.
  • TIG (tungsten inert gas) or GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding). TIG is a more complex type of welding, used when a higher quality of work is needed.
  • Arc welding or SMAW (shielded metal arc welding). Arc welding is used on iron and steel, and is common in manufacturing, construction, and repairs.
  • FCAW (flux-cored arc welding). Similar to MIG or GMAW, FCAW is known for being inexpensive and easy to learn; it’s a higher-speed method often used in construction, with sometimes less aesthetically pleasing results than others.

It’s important for the beginning welder to research these types of welding, and to find out which ones you will need to be skilled in for the type of job you want to do. If you already have some basic skills and are working as a beginning welder, you probably understand already have some understanding of the various types of welding. It doesn’t hurt to build your skills in all these techniques, should you ever want to make a job change.

Your Welding Training and Experience

For some individuals, eager to get their training behind them and get to work, a short program that teaches welding basics or preparation for certifications from organizations such as the American Welding Society may be the most appealing route. But there are some very good reasons why even these students should consider enrolling in a vocational or technical program that offers somewhat lengthier — if accelerated — instruction.

After all, you cannot assume that even if you have years of experience in the field as a welder that you can pass certifications: a college program may give you the background, the practice, and the finesse you need to more easily attain the various certifications you will aim for in your career.

For instance, say you wanted to be a maritime welder. You might enroll in a diploma program offering training in practical construction techniques and repair of equipment and structures made of steel. You would be taught to weld pipe in multiple positions, receiving instruction in the classroom and practice in the laboratory.

One of the principal advantages of enrolling in an academic program is that you would have access to modern welding equipment and tools. You would also gain hands-on experience in a shop where you’ll be able to see skilled instructors demonstrate particular proficiencies. You would also be taught good safety procedures to follow in shipyards and any type of repair facility.

Earning a degree such as we’ve described above will not only give you the skills necessary to be hired for an entry-level job in welding, but you’ll also get a broader picture of the kinds of careers that might be available to you in welding. You’ll meet experienced professionals who can mentor you and give you sound advice about where to look for the best jobs, and what it might be like to work in various industries.

How Long Does it Take to Complete a Welding Degree?

This is entirely up to you. You can choose to take a traditional course in welding which might take you upwards of two years. Or you could take an accelerated course, which could prove less time in the classroom and more time looking for jobs in your field. You have to choose which pace and style is right for you.

Are You Interested in Earning a Welding Degree?

Could enrolling in a welding program be the right move for you? Why not contact Advanced Technology Institute TODAY for more information about our Associate in Occupational Science Degree with a concentration in Maritime Welding Technology with Service Management? You could earn your degree in an accelerated program in as little as 75 weeks!