How Long Does It Take to Learn a Trade Skill Like Welding?

Skilled trades workers have the specialty knowledge and hands-on experience to build and maintain infrastructure like your hospitals, roads, and homes. If you consider taking up welding, you may have wondered how long it takes to learn it.

Training to learn to weld can take months to years, depending on the pathway you choose and the skill level you want to gain. Vocational schools take a shorter time than running a full college degree, and the amount of time you have to spare also affects how long your training will be.

This article explores the hardest skilled trade and how long it takes to learn a skilled trade like welding. I also discuss how much welders make and whether trade jobs are hard on your body.

What Is the Hardest Skilled Trade?

Like other jobs, skilled trade jobs take their toll on all aspects of your well-being. You should understand the pros and cons of a skilled trade before settling on one.

Training, practice, and soft skills are the parameters for gauging the most challenging skilled trade. According to these factors and a survey conducted by CraftJack, electrical work is the toughest trade to master. Following closely are carpentry, HVAC, and making cabinets/countertops.

It takes many years of training, humility, and patience to have full command of some trades and produce masterful work consistently. The difficulty levels of these trades should not discourage you if you are interested in them. 

As you progress, you will learn more from others in the profession and strike a balance that will keep you alive and settled after many years of practicing.

How Long Does It Take to Learn a Trade Skill like Welding?

Getting a skilled trade qualification is becoming a more popular alternative to a 4-year college degree because it usually costs less. Some of these jobs also pay more than white-collar jobs. 

You can take various pathways to be a welder, and each path has different requirements and timeframes. Taking classes in a welder training program allows you to learn welding in as little as six months. The duration of other training options is:

  • Vocational schools

It takes about nine months, and students receive a diploma certificate upon completion.

  • A welding program in a community college

It takes two to three years, and students receive an associate degree after completion. An associate degree program provides trainees with the opportunity to specialize in sub-categories of welding, like automotive and robotics welding.

This training also prepares students for certification exams, qualifying them as welding supervisors and managers.

  • A welding bachelor’s degree program

This takes about four years, and such programs are quite rare. Such programs attract welders with an interest in high-level manufacturing and design processes. It also focuses on management while familiarizing trainees with welding theories, practices, and specialized welding applications—computer-aided designs and automated machine welding.

  • Masters program

A Masters of Science in welding engineering is a rare, highly specialized program where trainees specialize in welding applications like marine, medical devices, aerospace, and electronics.

  • It usually takes two to three years and graduates pioneer new welding technologies and techniques. 

Students learn metallurgy, blueprint reading, using mathematics to better cut metals, safety procedures, and different techniques. After most of these training options, you have to do an apprenticeship. 

An apprenticeship lasts as long as your skills permit, usually three to four years. Upon completion, you become a “journeyman,” which means you have all the practical experiences needed in the welding field.

How Much Do Welders Make?

It would be strange if prospective welding students and their families did not ask this question. It requires a straightforward answer, but multiple factors make it tricky to give a fixed figure.

There are many types of welders in the field, including MIG Welders, Arc Welders, Shipbuilders, Fabricators, Pipe Welders, Ironworkers, Pipeliners, etc. Construction, energy sectors, film, and television production, and manufacturing are some fields that use the services of welders.

Employers also range from small to medium and large; some jobs require union membership, while others are open shops with union and nonunion members. Travel and overtime considerations also affect pay.

A welder in the United States earns about $18.87 per hour on average, likely for entry-level welders. More-experienced welders earn $30 or more per hour, and the highest-paid welders have years of experience and the certifications to back their skills.

Rig Welders are the highest paid, earning between $52,000 to $207,000 per year.

Are Trade Jobs Hard on Your Body?

A popular notion about many trade jobs is the toll they take on your body, especially after decades of work. It would help to factor this into consideration when selecting a trade to practice. Most skilled trades have a hands-on approach, and various trades affect your body differently.

The most physically tasking trades involve a lot of lifting, climbing, bending and are often dangerous. Some jobs that are hard on your body are:

  • Roofing

Roofing is tagged as the most physically demanding skilled trade. It comprises climbing up and down ladders, working in harsh weather conditions, and roofers are at risk of falling off roofs.

Hot tar and the unending bending, climbing, and kneeling also hit your joints hard.

  • Ironworkers who make good money also have a high injury rate similar to roofers. Cuts from metal-cutting tools and severe burns from welding equipment add to the risks of slips and strains they face. 

Welders are also in this category because of the nature of their equipment.

  • Bricklaying, masonry, and framing involve a lot of heavy lifting, with masons and bricklayers performing more than 1,000 ‘forward bending’ tasks daily. They are probably the most physically challenging of all construction work.

Plumbers and electricians need the least physical labor to carry out, but you will have to squeeze into tiny, dank places to get your job done. 

This “ease” in no way diminishes the ardor of the jobs, as electricians have to carry heavy cables, and plumbers deal with heavy pipes.

There are no jobs without risks. You only weigh the risks and the benefits, then choose something that works for you and makes you happy.

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