Study Welding Technology: Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance
Welding technology programs teach you how to join metal parts together using hand-held tools and equipment. Graduates of these programs can find employment in the construction, manufacturing and agricultural industries. While an associate's degree program can prepare you for employment as a welder, completing a bachelor's degree program can qualify you to work as an engineer.
In an associate's degree program, you learn the fundamentals of shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding and fabrication. In addition to obtaining these welding skills, a bachelor's degree program covers topics involving robotics, engineering and computer software. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welding career job opportunities are expected to grow about 15% from 2010-2020. Those with an educational background in welding have the best employment opportunities.
|Who is this degree for?||High school graduates who want to work in welding technology||People who want to combine welding technology with engineering|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary)|| -Welder ($38,000)*|
-Metal and plastic workers ($37,000)*
| -Electrical engineer ($89,000)*|
-Agricultural engineer ($78,000)*
|Time to Completion||2 years||4 years|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| -About 20-24 undergraduate courses |
| -About 40-48 general education and core courses|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent||High school diploma; an associate degree in some programs|
|Online Availability||Fully online programs are not available||None found at this time|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Associate's Degree in Welding Technology
An associate's degree in welding technology teaches you about different welding techniques and how to use the various equipment and machinery found in the industry. Students who are interested in enrolling in this program must have strong mechanical ability and good hand-eye coordination. The program combines classroom work with hands-on experience, and graduates will have the knowledge and skills to weld alloys, read blueprints and understand codes. While graduating with an associate's degree can prepare you to work as a welder, advancement opportunities might be limited unless you continue your education at the bachelor's degree level.
Pros and Cons
- Welders with formal training can have better job prospects
- Can find work with an associate's degree
- Work opportunities are available in a variety of industries
- Possibility of work-related injuries
- Must avoid inhaling dangerous gases and particles
- Working nights and weekends may be required
Courses and Requirements
Welding technology associate's degree programs require you to complete general education courses, core welding classes and lab work. In addition to learning about different welding techniques, courses in the program also strongly emphasize safety in the workplace. Classroom courses are going to teach you about welding theories, and you should be able to apply those theories in a practical environment. Laboratory work focuses on operating and troubleshooting welding equipment, machinery and tools. In order to graduate, students may need to complete a capstone project to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the field.
Online Course Options
Because of the hands-on aspects of training programs and work in the field, fully online associate's degree programs in welding technology are not available. However, students might be able to complete general education courses and some welding theory courses online. Online courses cover the same material as on campus courses, and you'll need a computer with Internet access to view lectures, complete assignments and communicate with professors.
How to Stand Out in the Field
Because formal training isn't required to work as a welder, obtaining a welding technology associate's degree can give you an advantage over other applicants. Earning certification through the American Welding Society (AWS) can also help you stand out in the field. While the BLS reports that some employers might pay for AWS training, obtaining this credential before employment can help when looking for jobs. Other important skills include having the physical capability to stand for long periods of time and move heavy objects.
Bachelor's in Welding Engineering Technology
Students who want to work in the welding industry as an engineer can pursue a bachelor's degree in welding engineering technology. In this program, you learn to incorporate engineering methodologies and principles into welding techniques. After completing foundational courses in welding, students take advanced courses in the field and learn about electronics, robotics and industrial processes. Some bachelor's degree programs in welding engineering technology require you to earn an associate's degree prior to enrollment.
Pros and Cons
- High salary potential (mean annual salary was about $89,000 for electrical engineer and $78,000 for agricultural engineers in 2011)*
- Authority to make decisions regarding designs
- Opportunity to work in a variety of geographical areas
- Have to earn licensure to work in the field
- No online programs available
- Might work in hazardous environments
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Course and Requirements
The courses in first two years of a welding engineering technology program are similar to those in a welding technology associate's degree program. However, in the final two years of the bachelor's degree program, students take advanced courses and participate in internships. Advanced courses can include industrial electronics and applications, fabrication processes, welding codes and procedures, computer solutions and engineering ethics. Opportunities are available to work with faculty members to complete welding and engineering projects, and internships allow you to work under the supervision of professional engineers and gain practical experience in the field.
Online Course Options
Students interested in an online bachelor's degree program in welding engineering technology should be aware that online courses might not be available in the field. The program requires students to complete extensive laboratory requirements that can prevent them from taking courses over the Internet. This hands-on component ensures that students are prepared to work in a professional environment and understand the safety requirements to work in the field.
How to Stand Out in the Field
With a bachelor's degree, you will be eligible for entry-level engineering jobs. In order to make yourself a more attractive candidate, you might want to gain practical experience in the field. Engineering experience can be obtained through a required or voluntary internship; this offers you an opportunity to work on professional projects and network within the industry. It's important to learn how to work well within a team, communicate effectively and be detail-oriented.