Like many jobs in the trades, there is an increased demand for welders in a broad range of industries. Although other occupations may require years of training and schooling before one can enter the workforce, a person with little to no welding experience can become a professional welder in as little as 6 months. And since becoming a certified welder doesn’t require a certain number of classwork hours—students must simply pass a test to receive certification—aspiring welders looking to make a career change don’t need to quit their day jobs to begin training.
While hands-on training is necessary to learn, there are a variety of online welding courses that can provide additional instruction and guidance to prepare welders to enter the workforce or offer continuing education to those already working. Ahead, aspiring welders can learn about some of the best online welding courses.
- BEST OVERALL: AWS 8-Week Online Welding Seminar
- BEST CONTINUING EDUCATION: Hobart Institute of Welding Technology
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Udemy Certification in Welding Technology
What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Online Welding Courses
When choosing an online welding course, it’s crucial for students to understand the importance of accreditation as well as the different types of welding that these courses teach. Below is more information on these and other attributes of online welding courses.
Welding Methods Taught
There are four different types of welding, and students can find courses on each of these types online. Different types of welding have different applications, so students will want to consider the types of welding available and what area they’d like to focus on when searching for an online welding course.
- MIG: MIG stands for metal inert gas, which is also called gas metal arc welding (GMAW). MIG welders feed a thin wire through a tool to weld materials together. MIG welding is considered easier to learn than other types of welding, and it’s a common practice in building construction, automobile manufacturing, and factories. MIG welding uses an inert shielding gas to protect the welding area from oxygen and water vapor.
- TIG: TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding is also known as GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding). It’s a more advanced form of welding requiring nondominant hand, dominant hand, and foot coordination while using a nonconsumable tungsten electrode. This method focuses on welding very small areas and requires a high level of precision. TIG welding is standard in bicycle and aircraft creation, and the welds are very strong. Like MIG welding, TIG welding requires the use of shielding gas.
- Stick: The name “stick” welding comes from the welding electrode’s form. Stick or shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) varies from other types since there’s no shielding gas required. This means that stick welding can be done outside in the wind or rain and can also be used on dirty or rusty materials. Stick welding is also more cost-effective and DIY-friendly (many of the best welders for amateurs are stick models). However, stick welding is not the most durable and is prone to cracks.
- Flux cored: Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) is another beginner-friendly method. Like MIG welding, it uses a continuously fed electrode. Flux welding uses shielding gas and an element known as a flux that acts as a purifying agent and additional protection from oxygen and vapor.
Course Length and Structure
When prospective students are researching and selecting a welding course, it’s crucial for them to consider the course structure, length, and schedule. Some welding courses are instructor-led, requiring the student to attend virtual classes on a set schedule. Some self-paced courses allow students to complete the coursework on their own schedule. Instructor-led courses give the student greater access to teacher and student interaction. In contrast, a self-paced course is ideal for those with busy or variable schedules who may not be able to attend live classes.
How long a welding course lasts depends on the type of course it is. Professional development courses that focus on a specific skill may only require 4 or 5 hours of class time, whereas a full-length course can last up to 8 weeks. Students will want to take the time commitment into account to make sure they are able to dedicate that time to their welding education.
Entry-Level vs. Advanced Career Training
Welding courses are designed for either beginners with little to no welding experience or for professionals looking to build on their existing skills. When searching for classes, students will want to make sure they choose a program that suits their needs.
Entry-level courses are designed for those with basic or minimal welding experience and focus on helping the student achieve certification by preparing them for the welding certification test. It is important to note that although an entry-level welding course will help the student prepare for this exam, it isn’t a replacement for in-person training. A student will need hands-on welding training to gain the skill required to become a certified welder. However, online classes can be a helpful supplement to learning the science of welding.
Welders seeking continuing education will want to look for online welding courses that focus on a specific skill they wish to add to their repertoire or classes that allow them to maintain their certifications.
In-Person vs. Online Learning
While in-person training is necessary for learning a hands-on skill such as welding, an online welding school allows students to complete much of their required training from the comfort of their own home and on their own schedule. In addition to being more flexible, online welding courses are typically more affordable than in-person courses, making them ideal for those on a limited budget.
A good online course will give students access to training videos, reading material, and various other coursework, as well as the ability to connect with the instructor. The course should also clearly state what equipment and supplies the student needs to purchase in order to practice new skills.
The cost of online welding courses varies depending on the length of the course and whether or not the American Welding Society (AWS) accredits the course. Accredited online courses designed for entry-level welders who want to become certified typically cost between $2,000 and $3,000 and last several weeks. This is less than the cost of in-person entry-level courses, which range from $5,000 to $15,000.
Nonaccredited classes that last just a few hours can cost as little as $20. Although there are free welding classes available online, students will need to be wary of them as they may teach unsafe practices. These classes may be sufficient for a DIY welder, but a professional welder will likely need to find an accredited course.
When searching for an online welding course, prospective students will want to consider whether the program is accredited or not. An accredited program will allow the students to complete coursework that can be used to obtain or maintain various certifications needed to work as a professional welder. Welding certifications are given out by the AWS, which requires students to pass a written test and performance qualification exam to earn the certification. Novice welders looking to pick up some knowledge to complete DIY projects won’t need to worry about accreditation, but will still want to make sure they pick a course that teaches safe welding practices.
AWS Certification Preparation
The AWS offers the field’s most widely accepted welding certification. Students do not need to complete any specific coursework or prerequisites to achieve the AWS certification. Instead, students must pass a written test and performance evaluation to earn the certification. Students interested in becoming certified will want to look for an online welding course designed to prepare them for this test.
Our Top Picks
The best online welding courses are designed for prospective students from many backgrounds and skill levels. The following choices can help students earn their welding certification online, continue their education to improve their skills, or learn how to weld as a hobby.
Why It Made the Cut: The AWS 8-Week Online Welding Seminar is the best way for those with welding experience to prep for the AWS certification test.
The AWS offers the most widely accepted certification for professional welding, so it only makes sense that its 8-week online seminar is the best remote learning option for aspiring welders. Students will want to be aware that this is not a program for those with no welding experience; instead, students are expected to be familiar with basic welding processes and terminology prior to enrolling. The program consists of a series of 2-hour live online classes, which is ideal for students who may not have the time to commit to an in-person class but want the benefits of live instruction. In addition to the live classes, the course also includes study guides and practice tests designed specifically to help the student prepare for the AWS exam. It also includes a 3-year membership to the AWS, and the AWS offers discounts on the cost of tuition for members.
- Course length: 8 weeks
- Entry-level vs. advanced career training: Entry level
- Cost: $2,030 to $2,795 for members; $2,298 to $3,060 for nonmembers
- Program accreditation: American Welding Society
- AWS certification preparation: Yes
- Exam preparation course designed by the AWS
- Interactive online seminars
- Pre-existing basic knowledge of welding principles required
Why It Made the Cut: Hobart Institute of Welding Technology offers individual welding classes focusing on specific skills that are are ideal for those looking to maintain their certifications.
Hobart Institute of Welding Technology offers a slate of classes for welding inspectors or instructors who need to maintain their certifications. While Hobart does offer many in-class courses for those who want to learn how to weld, it does not offer any online courses that teach entry-level welding. Its online courses are limited to classes for welding inspectors and educators. Hobart’s online welding institute offers seven classes focused specifically on assessing welds and identifying defects in order to maintain quality control. Hobart’s courses, each of which consists of five 25-minute videos, are also affordable, with each individual course costing $89. Once the courses have been completed, students take a final test to obtain a certificate of completion and earn continuing education credits. Course credits earned from these classes can be applied toward AWS recertification.
- Course length: 4 hours per topic
- Entry-level vs. advanced career training: Advanced career training
- Cost: $89 per topic
- Program accreditation: American Welding Society
- AWS certification preparation: Yes
- Career-specific topics designed by the AWS
- Courses can be applied toward AWS recertification
- Somewhat limited course selection
Why It Made the Cut: At just $34.99, the Udemy Certification in Welding Technology class is an excellent introduction to those considering the welding profession.
Welding courses can cost thousands of dollars in tuition, which doesn’t make sense for anyone who wants to learn to weld but isn’t interested in becoming certified. Those looking to get started in welding on a budget will want to look no further than the online class aggregator Udemy, which offers an in-depth Certification in Welding Technology class at the low price of $19.99. Prospective students will need to be aware that the program is not accredited and therefore can’t be used for AWS certification.
This course provides an overview of the history of welding, consumable and nonconsumable welding methods, and the types of welding joints. There’s no prior knowledge required, and students can complete the course on their own schedules. Students can also check the class reviews and ratings directly on the web page so they can decide if the class is right for them.
- Course length: 3.5 hours of video
- Entry-level vs. advanced career training: Entry level
- Cost: $34.99
- Program accreditation: Not accredited
- AWS certification preparation: No
- Relatively affordable cost
- Reviews and ratings for each course displayed on the course page
- No accreditation or certification for students
Given that the American Welding Society is the pre-eminent welding certification group in the country, it makes sense that the organization offers the best welding classes online to help students prepare for the AWS certification test. Those who want to dip their toes into welding but don’t want to spend much money can consider Udemy’s Certification in Welding Technology.
How We Chose the Best Online Welding Courses
When reviewing the best welding courses online, we considered various factors. It’s important to note that online welding classes are not a replacement for hands-on instruction, so we looked for classes that could serve as an introduction or complement to real-life training or work experience. Since most students who pursue welding do so with the goal of becoming employed as a welder, we first looked for the online courses that would best prepare students for the American Welding Society’s certification test. Online courses are also a convenient option for those in the welding industry who may be looking to maintain an existing certification, so we also included institutions that offer continuing education courses. We also considered cost and included some courses that may appeal to those who are interested in learning welding but don’t want to pay the higher price of an accredited program.
Before You Take One of the Best Online Welding Courses
Online welding classes are no substitute for hands-on welding training and experience. While online classes are excellent supplements for students who want to obtain a better understanding of welding principles, welding is not something that can be taught theoretically. Therefore, students who want to learn how to weld or polish their welding skills will need to also look for an in-person class with a live instructor who can help them practice their work.
Before signing up for a welding course, it’s essential for students to first understand what certifications and licenses they need to work professionally in this field. Many employers require welders to become certified with the American Welding Society. While this process doesn’t require specific courses, the student must complete a written test as well as a performance exam in order to obtain the certification. Some states may also require students to obtain licensing to work as a welder, so students will want to look into local regulations to make sure they are meeting them.
Cost of Taking One of the Best Online Welding Courses
Online welding course prices vary depending on length and whether or not the course is accredited by the AWS. Generally speaking, accredited welding courses cost between $2,000 and $3,000 for an intensive 2- to 8-week course. Accredited online welding courses are more affordable than accredited in-person classes, which can run from $5,000 for a 3- to 7-month course and up to $15,000 for courses that last more than a year. However, students who take a welding course online will likely still need in-person instruction and guidance to earn a certification, which can add to the overall training cost.
Nonaccredited courses are much more affordable at about $20 for an online video that ranges from as little as 40 minutes to 4 hours. Prospective students will want to remember that nonaccredited courses cannot be used for continuing education credits and won’t prepare them for the AWS certification test as effectively as an accredited course.
The Advantages of Taking One of the Best Online Welding Courses
Online welding courses offer convenience, as they don’t require the students to commute to a campus and instead allow them to take the class from the comfort of their own home. Some of these courses are also self-paced, which is key for those who may need a flexible schedule.
- No commuting required
- Ideal for students with busy or variable schedules
For those wondering if they can complete a welding degree entirely online or how long it takes to complete a welding course, the following answers to these and other commonly asked questions about the trade are below.
Q. How long does it take to complete a welding course?
It typically takes a beginner with little or no prior welding experience up to 6 months to complete a welding program that allows them to become certified and ready to start work.
Q. Can I get a welding degree online?
Although the ideal way to learn to weld is through in-person training, there are now some sophisticated welding courses available online. These courses allow students to attain the skills needed to pass the AWS certification test.
Q. How much money do welders make?
The average welder pay rate in the United States is $20.82 per hour. Welders with more than 10 years of experience make $23.79 per hour on average. Some companies, such as automakers and engineering companies, may pay significantly more for skilled welders. Also, welders proficient in advanced types of welding can command a higher salary.
Q. Why do welders drink a lot of milk?
Some welders drink a lot of milk because they believe the calcium in milk helps to counter toxic carcinogens created when welding certain types of metals (including zinc, lead, and cadmium), causing a condition known as metal fume fever. Metal fume fever causes fever, chills, nausea, headache, and dizziness. Some welders will also hold milk in their mouths to filter out the fumes. Unfortunately, this is an old wives’ tale, and drinking milk does not prevent metal fume fever.
Q. What type of welding is the most difficult?
The hardest welding process, according to most welders, is TIG welding due to the high level of dexterity and surgeon-like precision it requires. TIG welders must use a foot pedal to adjust the amperage sent to the welding torch while manually feeding a rod of tungsten to the torch tip with their nondominant hand and controlling the torch with their dominant hand. The level of hand-eye foot coordination required to do those proficiently is why skilled TIG welders make significantly more than average welders. It’s also why it can cost more to become certified in this type of welding.
Q. Do I have to pay for a license after I complete my online welding course?
Students will need to pay to take the test to become certified by the AWS; however, they will only have to apply and pay for a license in states that require them.
Q. How long does a welding license last?
Welding certifications are good for anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. Most employers test their job applicants on specific welding processes and certify them for that process for 6 months. The AWS provides a Certified Welder certification to those who pass a written test and performance evaluation. After earning the certification, welders must submit a maintenance form every 6 months to show they are still performing that welding process to maintain their certification. Certain specialized welding services, such as those for boilermakers or welders working in the petroleum industry, can receive certifications of up to 3 years from associations that focus specifically on those industries
Sources: Water Welders, New England Institute of Technology, Indeed, Tulsa Welding School