Welding technology has changed tremendously over the past century. In fact, the art of welding has evolved into its own separate field of study. Years ago you could be an excellent welder and still not know it unless you attended welding schools or specialized classes. Now, a person can attend a welding school and earn a degree in welding technology which is almost synonymous with becoming a welding engineer.
An Associate of Applied Science in welding technology, also known as an AAS in welding technology, typically is a two year program that teaches students how to become a skilled welder. It takes courses in welding technology safety, basic metals and alloys, power supplies, lasers and more. The associate’s program will teach students the proper use of various power supplies such as electric, mechanical and chemical, as well as how to weld together different materials such as steel, aluminum and copper. It also takes courses in woodworking technology, soldering and laser technology and much more.
The associate’s program in welding technology generally requires some general education credits in order to ensure that students are competent and able to learn what they are learning in a safe manner. Generally, students will complete courses in math, physics, chemistry, computer science and other high school classes. Most colleges and universities require students to take a course specific to welding technology. There is even a certification test that is given after completion of the associate’s degree program to gauge how well the student is prepared for becoming a skilled welder. Students who pass this test are given the title of Master of Science in welding technology.
Another option available to welders who would like to go back to school is the programs offered by technical colleges and technical centers. Typically, there is only one major concentration that a college offers in welding technology. You may find programs available at technical schools in California, Colorado and Texas as well as programs located in New York, Missouri and Florida. There are also a number of technical colleges offering programs in welding technology, although there may be some of these schools that offer their welding programs online and through correspondence. Online learning is not as widespread as the traditional face-to-face learning of welding technology so you will need to make sure that you do your research on online schools carefully.
An important element of any welding technology program will be hands-on training using actual welding equipment. There is nothing more frustrating than being presented with a piece of metal and having to use an unfamiliar wrench to tighten it – especially when the equipment you are using is something as sophisticated as welding equipment! The best schools and colleges will provide their students with a comprehensive selection of welding equipment that they can use under the direction of fully qualified instructors. Some of the welding equipment you will be taught at the school will include: gas tungsten arc welding, mig welding, stick welding, gas metal arc welding and flux cored welding.
Many colleges and technical schools offer students an opportunity to complete an internship while they are enrolled in a class. During the internship you will actually be able to work with welded metal, often by helping the instructor run the equipment or in a lab, as well as assisting the student with their projects. Projects can range from simple side skirts for cars and trucks to full-scale construction projects. You may even be able to help construct an entire building from the ground up. This experience will give you invaluable hands-on experience which is valuable if you plan to go on to become a professional welder someday. You will also gain valuable practical skills which are very useful in a job market where there is an ongoing crisis regarding the lack of skilled welders.