How to Become a Welder in North Carolina
Those hoping to qualify for welder jobs in North Carolina must complete an accredited training program that teaches them the skills and equipment-handling practices they need to create sturdy, lasting welds.
Getting an official certification or a license to perform specialized welds could help you qualify for higher-paying welder jobs in NC.
Education and Training
A high school diploma, GED, or equivalent is the minimum educational requirement for those wondering how to become welders in North Carolina. Some NC high schools have welding programs that teach students the basics of the job when they’re 15 or 16 years old.
In some cases, these students may be able to find work with a local contractor and receive more in-depth on-the-job training.
North Carolina Welding School
While some employers are willing to hire inexperienced workers and teach them the tools of the trade, most of them prefer candidates who have completed an accredited training course at a North Carolina trade school.
During these courses, aspiring welders in NC typically learn the following skills and information:
- Blueprint Reading
- Welding Equipment Handling and Maintenance
- Construction Mathematics
- Metalworking and Fabrication
- Shop and Site Safety
Different Welding Styles
You’ll also learn the proper welding and cutting operations for different welding styles. Your chosen program might only teach a particular type of welding, though some offer instruction on multiple disciplines.
Depending on the curriculum, you may learn one of the following:
- Plasma Arc Welding
- Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)/MIG Welding
- Tungsten Inert Gas Welding (TIG Welding)
- Gas or Oxy-Acetylene Welding
- Flux-Cored Welding
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)/Stick Welding
Specialized Welder Training
If you want to work as a pipefitter or an aviation, automotive, or underwater welder, you’ll need to complete a specialized training course that covers that particular skill set. For instance, aspiring underwater welders must receive commercial diving training so they can perform welds on off-shore oil rigs, dams, bridges, marine vehicles, and nuclear reactors.
Likewise, those who want to be pipefitters will need to learn the fundamentals of plumbing and construction. Meanwhile, automotive and aviation welders need to understand the basic construction principles of motor vehicles and air or space crafts, respectively.
How Long is Welding School in NC?
Some NC welder schools allow students to complete their courses in as little as 12 weeks. Other certificate and diploma programs, like the welding program at Universal Technical Institute’s Mooresville campus, are about 36 weeks long. If you plan to specialize in a particular welding discipline, you might finish your training in 18 months to two years.
How Much Does Welder School Cost?
Course costs for NC welder schools vary by institution. Most certificate and diploma programs cost between $1,200 and $2,500. However, there are some trade schools that charge closer to $3,000 or $4,000 in tuition, fees, study materials, and equipment.
North Carolina Welder Requirements
There is currently no state licensing requirement that welders in NC must meet before they can start applying for jobs. As a result, you may be able to find a job with a local contractor even if you lack an official credential. However, most employers prefer to hire candidates who are certified welders.
American Welding Society Certification
Most welders in NC earn their professional certifications through the American Welding Society (AWS). To obtain your certified welder (CW) credential, you’ll need to take the following steps:
- Find an accredited AWS testing center in your area
- Complete an application to take the AWS Certified Welder Exam
- Submit an application, a photo ID, and payment of the required application and exam fees
- Pass the written and practical portions of the certification exam
NC welders planning to perform underwater welds or work with construction teams building commercial and residential structures may need an official license. Typically, specialized training programs offer licensing exams through whichever organization provides their accreditation.
Welder Salaries in NC
Depending on where you work and live, your earnings as a welder in NC may differ. For example, the average welder salary in North Carolina is about $46,450 per year. However, employers in some cities might pay closer to $55,000 annually or more. Take a look at the list below to learn how much welders make in different North Carolina cities:
- Charlotte $38,363
- Raleigh $40,974
- Cary $37,839
- Greensboro $33,329
- Hickory $38,573
- Concord $39,342
Union welders in NC typically earn more than others, starting out at about $45,000 per year. If you have an official certification, you may be able to negotiate a higher wage as well. Meanwhile, welders licensed in underwater welding, pipefitting, or some other specialty typically make closer to $80,000 per year or more.
Welder jobs in North Carolina require physical stamina, attention to detail, and a thorough understanding of proper welding procedures and safety practices.
Those who work as welders in NC must perform the following tasks while on the job:
- Read blueprints to determine the requirements for each weld
- Measure, cut, and shape metal components to blueprint and schematic specifications
- Use welding equipment to melt and join together metal components
- Be able to lift at least 50 pounds and sit, stand, and kneel for long periods during a weld
- Perform specific welding techniques based on the location and job requirements
Although Bureau of Labor Statistics reports show that the demand for welding jobs in the U.S. will only increase by about two percent, qualified welders in NC may have an easy time finding work. Welders with the proper training and certification can qualify for careers in the state’s thriving aerospace, energy, and automotive industries, which are among the top business sectors in North Carolina.