Welding instructor jobs can provide a very fulfilling career for anyone who has experience and a passion for welding. If you've been a professional welder for several years and are skilled in several different types of welding, such as SMAW, GMAW, GTAW, and Oxy-Fuel, then employers will definitely want you as their welding instructor. As an instructor, you will have the opportunity to help other people as they strive to advance their careers, while fine-tuning your own skills at the same time. If you're interested in welding instructor jobs, there are certain minimum qualifications which most employers will ask for, and they might be more strict what you needed for your current job. In this article, I want to walk you through the basic qualifications that most welding instructor jobs demand, the responsibilities that come with the job, where you can look for these jobs, and, most importantly, a rough estimation of how much money you can expect to make.
Welding Instructor Job Qualifications
Many welding instructor jobs might require more specialized skills and certifications than what you might expect for other welding jobs. Welding instructors are expected to have a broad range of welding skills, including different techniques, positions, joints, and metals. Job experience is also vital for welding instructors, so that you can effectively teach welding classes that will prepare your students for a new career in welding. Here are some of the qualifications you will probably need.
Welding Education: Most welding instructor jobs will require you to have at least a 2-year Associate's degree in Welding. Some positions may also ask you to have a 4-year degree in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering. This formal education is important for learning not only welding skills, but also several basic on-the-job skills such as how to use Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, how to prepare cost and material estimates for a job, and how to read blueprints. And as with any career, continuing education, such as welding certifications, will always boost your résumé.
Job Experience: Professional welding experience is an absolute must for any welding instructor. You have to practice what you teach! Professional experience allows you to prepare your students for a real-world job once they complete your classes. Most welding instructor jobs ask for between 1 and 5 years of professional experience. You'll be a step ahead of the competition if you have any teaching experience as well.
Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW): SMAW, also known as "stick welding," is a basic skill that you should definitely know when applying for welding instructor jobs. In this form of welding, heat is generated by forming an electrical arc between the metals being joined, and the electrode "stick" that is used to create the arc melts to serve as the filler metal. The electrode is wrapped in flux, which releases vapors as it burns that shield the joint from the surrounding air.
Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW): GMAW is also commonly referred to as Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding. This variety of welding also creates an electrical arc between the joined metals using a melting electrode. However, the electrode is extended through a welding gun, and the shielding gas is also released from the welding gun, rather than burning flux to release the shielding gas.
Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW): FCAW is in some sense a combination of the SMAW and GMAW welding methods. FCAW uses a melting electrode fed through a welding gun, as is done in GMAW, but the electrode is wrapped in flux which provides the shielding gas, as is done in SMAW.
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW): GTAW, also referred to as Tungsten Inert Gas welding (TIG), is similar to GMAW in some respects. This style uses a welding gun that releases a shielding gas and contains an electrode, but the electrode does not get consumed. This type of welding specifically uses tungsten welding electrodes, and a separate filler metal must also be supplied.
Oxy-fuel Welding And Cutting: Oxyacetylene welding and cutting is a more traditional welding method, and it is a skill that any welding instructor should possess. In this process, pure oxygen is combined with acetylene gas to produce a high-temperature, directed flame which is used to heat the metals that are to be joined. Additional filler metal is commonly added in this method as well. Oxy-fuel torches are also used for cutting metals, which is referred to as Oxy-fuel Cutting.
Welding And Fabrication: In addition to cutting and repairing metal structures, many welding jobs will also ask your students to fabricate new structures. In order to prepare students for fabrication welding jobs, you may need experience in fabrication for certain welding instructor jobs.
Reading Blueprints: Knowing how to read welding blueprints is another important job skill that you will need to teach students in your welding courses. Many welding instructor jobs will ask you to know how to read blueprints, including the welding symbols which specify types of metals, types of joints, desired welding processes, etc.
Non-Destructive Testing: As a welding instructor, you should be familiar with the common non-destructive testing techniques which will be used to test the integrity of your students' welds once they find a job. Common techniques include radiography testing, ultrasonic testing, and liquid penetrant testing. Some welding instructor jobs may also require you to be familiar with destructive testing techniques, such as Macro Etch testing and Bend testing.
Basic Computer Skills: Any job in today's world requires some basic computer skills; welding instructor jobs will ask the same of you. You should be proficient with software applications such as Microsoft Office, email applications, and web browsers. Many welding schools use web-based teaching tools both for students and teachers, and you will needed to familiarize yourself with these tools once you've been hired. Many welding instructor jobs will also prefer you to have some experience with one of several Computer-Aided Design software packages.
Team Player: Just like the computer skills, any employer will prefer someone who is a good team player. You will have daily contact with students, and you will need to work with them to help them achieve their goals. You also need the ability to work well with your fellow instructors and upper management, which will leave your employers feeling good about choosing you.
American Welding Society Welding Certifications: Along with your Associate's Degree or other traditional welding education, welding certifications from the American Welding Society (AWS) are solid proof of your skills. These certifications are usually not strictly required for welding instructor jobs, but employers will almost always prefer candidates who are either a Certified Welding Educator, Certified Welding Inspector, or both (the two certifications are actually very similar and can be earned at the same time). You can find more information on welding certifications on the American Welding Society website.
Welding Instructor Job Responsibilities
Before you start applying for welding instructor jobs, make sure that being a welding instructor is the right career choice for you. Here are some common job responsibilities for instructors.
Curriculum Planning: In the eyes of your employer, you are the resident expert, and that means you will know better than anyone else what is important for your students to know. You will often be heavily (or solely) responsible for designing the welding courses which best prepare your students for today's entry level welding jobs. Your "team player" attitude will come into play here, as you work with other instructors and your manager to coordinate teaching classes, creating a budget for purchasing course materials, and providing your students with all the educational support they need.
Teach Welding Courses: The meat of all welding instructor jobs is, of course, instructing! This part of the job includes preparing lesson plans, teaching in both lecture and hands-on environments, monitoring student attendance, and grading student work. This is also the part of the job where you can really use and share your passion for welding! Your students want to know how to be successful in their new career, and they want you to share with them the tips, tricks, and wisdom that you've learned in your years of welding experience.
Equipment Safety And Training: A very important piece of your job as a welding instructor will be to teach your students the proper way to use the welding equipment, as well as the required safety measures and equipment. Before students can do any hands-on work with the tools of the trade, you need to be sure that they will not hurt themselves or others. You must be able to teach and demonstrate all of the safety precautions that you usually take, as well as any additional precautions required by your employer.
Equipment Maintenance: Welding instructor jobs will likely require you to purchase new welding equipment and maintain old welding equipment as necessary. This is where it becomes important for you to have experience with several different types of welding and the associated equipment, as well as keeping up with new technologies and processes as they become available.
Work Nights And Weekends: I also just wanted to briefly mention that many welding instructor jobs ask you to work nights and weekends. Many of your students may already have full-time jobs, and they may only be able to attend classes that are outside of working hours. If irregular working hours are a problem for you, you might want to discuss this point with your employer during a phone call or interview.
Where To Find Welding Instructor Jobs?
The most common employers of welding instructors are community colleges or technical colleges, which focus on job training programs. Classes at these institutions tend to attract students who are already working full-time and are looking to advance their career with additional skills. Colleges will likely have a reasonable budget allotted for you to buy all the equipment and resources that you need. A second common opportunity for welding instructor jobs is through high school vocation programs, which seek to help students prepare for a job in the trade right after high school. These positions might provide a smaller budget than the colleges would, but you may also decide that working with the younger generation is more suited to your tastes. Finally, some larger welding companies may have an instructor on staff to train new employees. These positions will likely have the largest dedicated budget, and you will be teaching a much narrower range of students (mostly experienced welders).
How Much Money Can You Make?
The big question in any career choice is how much money you stand to make! Based on a small sample of open job listings, you can expect to make between $40,000 and $50,000 a year in welding instructor jobs, often with benefits included. There are also some part-time positions available if you already have a busy schedule.
There's a quick run-down of the qualifications and responsibilities required for welding instructor jobs. As always, do your research to make sure this is the right career choice for you, and I wish you the best of luck!