From building towering skyscrapers to helping materialize the blueprints for the latest car designs, houses and bridges, welding as a profession is essential to success in many areas of industry today. If you fancy deep-sea diving, underwater welding is also needed in coastal areas. Well-trained, highly skilled welders are major players in shaping and refining the world in which we live. Even if you already know many facts and figures concerning modern welding, you may be amazed to learn that one half or the total U.S. gross national product incorporates some type of welding services. Graduates of colleges, universities and technical training schools and programs today have the preparation, knowledge and skill to meet the important and constantly challenging demands of professional welding.
Contemporary welding jobs can be quite diverse and fascinating, including scientific applications and technological advancements in such fields as precision laser work, complex computer programming and robotics. NASA has always employed a highly-skilled team of welding experts for construction and maintenance work needed for the space program. Other job positions open to welding professionals include licensed engineers, certified managers and inspectors and very knowledgeable sales groups. However, for residents of the innovative and versatile state of North Carolina, there is no need to leave your current locale to find welding work that is interesting and challenging. Welders throughout the state work in many different industries, and many own and operate their own independent welding businesses, supplying skilled welding to their home communities and surrounding areas.
Requirements & Eligibility
Many North Carolina colleges and universities offering a degree or certificate program in welding require new students to take the College Board ACCUPLACER placement test to evaluate their reading and composition skills as well as their mathematics aptitude levels. Some college programs require the North Carolina Diagnostic and Placement Test (NC DAP). There are four different sections of this test—Write Placer Essay, Revising/Editing, Reading and Math.
However, students who have SAT scores equaling 500 or above in Critical Reading, or who scored 500 in Writing are exempt from taking the English placement test. Students with a score of 500 or above in Math are exempt from taking the math placement test. Incoming students who scored 22 or higher on the ACT Reading test or 18 or above in English are not required to take the English placement test. Any students with scores of 22 or above in Math are not required to test for math. All incoming students with grades of “C” or above in college-level math and English at an accredited institution in the U.S. are also exempt from taking these college entrance placement tests before beginning their welding program of study.
Application Process & Costs
Most colleges and trade schools now have online applications for interested applicants, which simplifies and speeds up the process of applying to a welding program or course. Students can then have their high school transcripts and their SAT or ACT test scores forwarded to the college or welding training school’s admissions department for evaluation. Generally, tuition for North Carolina resident students is around $1,150 per term, and students who register for fewer than 16 credit hours pay $72 per credit hour. For out-of-state students, 16 credit hours or more will cost $4,224 per term, and the fee for fewer than 16 credit hours will be $264 per credit hour. For international students, there is also usually an application fee of about $40.
Most North Carolina schools offering welding training courses offer eLearning programs to help meet the needs of busy modern students. These classes are given via video-based telecourses and live TV sessions, online classrooms and webinars. Formats used for instruction include Moodle and Blackboard, and students have full access to the teaching institution’s technical services team to resolve any issues with maintaining a steady and consistent Internet connection with the college or trade program.
Maintaining Certification/License & Renewal
There are different certification types for different levels of training in professional welding. For instance, a Certified Welder (CW) certification is offered for qualified welding course graduates for the fee of $35, with a renewal fee of $15. A Certified Robotic ARC Welding (CRAW) certification will cost $275, with a renewal fee of $200. Certification for a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) will cost $850, with a renewal fee of $140, and certification for a Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI) will cost $1,065 with the renewal fee of $140. All classes of certification for welding professionals must generally be renewed every 36 months. All welding professionals who run their own welding businesses must apply for a business license from the State of North Carolina. Fees will vary according to the type of business chosen, such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, partnership, small business corporation (S-Corp) or corporation (C-Corp).
Salary & Job Prospects
The welding profession offers positions with many different salary and wage levels. While a beginning CW often makes from $17 to $30 per hour, an experienced CWI can easily make $130,000 to $175,000 annually. Expert CRAW professionals may make up to two or three times the salary that a CWI is paid, so, as you can see, students who decide to choose welding as a major subject and profession are making an excellent and quite lucrative career choice for a good, secure future.