What is this field like? (Click to open)
Welders are an essential part of the construction industry. Iron workers, pipe fitters, boiler makers,
sheet metal workers, electricians, carpenters, millwrights, and operating engineers all depend on welding
skills to do their jobs. Without welding, there could be no airports, bridges, skyscrapers-or many of the
products we use everyday.
While economic conditions vary from one area of the country to another, the field of welding is expected
to have solid growth nationwide through the year 2010. When construction is booming, job opportunities in
this field are at their best.
Construction welders earn the highest pay rates in this field, but their work involves travel from job
site to job site, outdoor work, and seasonal employment. On the other hand, welders who work in
manufacturing plants or fabrication shops usually work indoors and their employment is constant, rather
than seasonal. Welders in fabrication shops produce a variety of products, while those involved in
manufacturing plants often do repetitive work.
What program does SCC have in this field?
SCC's welding and fabrication program is a three-quarter certificate program. Students can enroll any
fall, winter or spring quarter.
The program is competency-based which means students advance at their own pace. For example, if they
complete first quarter competencies before the end of the quarter, they automatically advance to
Completing the three-quarter welding program is a good way for students to gain skills and begin earning
an income while continuing their education. Since welding is such an integral part of many occupations,
students often combine an SCC welding certificate with training in other programs such as machine shop,
sheet metal, industrial electricity, diesel mechanics or fluid power. The more diverse skills the students
possess, the better they will be able to sell themselves in the job market. Students with welding skills
also find it helpful in being accepted into apprenticeship programs.
What classes will I take?
In the first quarter, students study the three basics of welding: math, blueprint reading, and
fabrication and welding. Students learn how to:
- Calculate the weights of structural shapes
- calculate a project's weight
- develop a precise materials list
- assemble components according to the blueprint
- check the project for squareness if necessary
- set and adjust a welding machine
- weld in various positions
Second quarter classes cover advanced blueprint reading, fabrication and welding.
Third quarter concentrates on building projects, material estimations, cutting lists, assembly and
welding. This quarter includes specialized welding processes-wire feed welding (both solid wire and flux
core), aluminum T.I.G. welding, black iron T.I.G. welding, aluminum wire feed welding, and air carbon
Where will I find a job?
SCC welding graduates have an excellent placement rate. Most start as welders or welders' helpers. They
find work as trainees/ apprentices in sawmills, paper mills, aluminum manufacturing plants, utility
companies, hospital boiler rooms, trailer manufacturers, custom steel fabrication companies and industrial
maintenance. As trainees/apprentices, they work on job sites and continue to attend company/union-sponsored
training for an additional 3,000 to 8,000 hours over a period of three to five years. During this
apprenticeship period there are built-in pay increments linked to the number of hours completed.
Graduates who work in fabrication or manufacturing may or may not be part of a union depending on the firm.
Wages are based on increased ability-not on a set time frame as in union shops.
How much will I earn?
Entry-level, non-union wages are from $10 to $15 an hour. Pay scales for experienced welders vary widely.
Non-union welders in the Spokane area earn an average of $12 to $18 an hour.