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How Much Is Welding School in 2024?

Welding is a skill that transfers across many different job profiles, but training is necessary to become qualified. Knowing how much welding school costs can help students prepare.
Meghan Wentland Avatar
Welders at work.
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Highlights

  • Welding school typically costs between $5,000 and $30,000 in total.
  • The cost of welding school can include tuition fees, the type of school and program chosen, tools and equipment, and textbooks.
  • Attending welding school has numerous benefits, such as access to equipment, well-rounded instruction, networking opportunities, increased job opportunities, and industry recognition.

Welding is both a trade and an art, so many people choose to train in the skills needed to weld for both professional and personal reasons. Depending on the type of program chosen, students could pay between $5,000 and $30,000 for welding school. There are quite a few variables for welding students to take into account when considering the different types of programs and what they offer that can affect welding school price. Also worth considering is the reason for choosing to take welding classes: Have you made a decision to become a welder and you’re all in? Is it a potential career path to explore? A hobby interest? Are you interested in further developing basic skills already acquired? A student’s motivation for attending welder school will affect the type of program they choose and determine many of the cost factors. The answer to the question “how much is welding school?” will vary based on several choices that the student makes. These include the type of program, depth of program, and time frame, along with many other factors. 

Two student welders watch an instructor.
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Key Cost Factors  

When it comes to welding school, there are some costs that are set in stone and others that will vary based on choices made by the student. Understanding the various elements will make it easier for students to gauge what a reasonable price is. 

Tuition Fees

The initial cost of welding school is the tuition, or cost to take classes, and any additional required fees that the school assesses. This cost varies considerably depending on the school or college, but it’s nonnegotiable. Scholarships or loans can help defray the overall or immediate costs, but tuition, registration fees, and other various fees required by the school must be paid before classes can begin. In some programs, tuition and fees also cover materials, tools, equipment, and safety gear, and in some cases, textbooks. But this is not always the case, so it’s critical for students to ask this question before committing so that the full cost of the program is clear. 

A group of student welders listen to an instructor.
Photo: istock.com

School and Program Type

Tuition will depend largely on the type of training program, whether it’s welding certification, welding trade school, or welding programs at associate- or bachelor’s degree–granting colleges. Introductory or basic skills classes and certification classes will generally be the least-expensive option. This is because they are shorter than the other programs and because students earn certification but not postsecondary degrees. Trade school and community college programs will be somewhat more costly, as students have access to a longer program of studies and more advanced degrees. However, such programs may lead to higher income opportunities and thus are generally considered to be worthwhile if the student is interested in higher-level jobs. 

Tools and Equipment

Welding requires a fair amount of gear. If this gear isn’t included in the tuition for the program, tools and equipment can be a significant additional cost. On the other hand, purchasing tools and equipment required for welding schools will mean that the student has all the gear they need when they begin seeking employment. Therefore, those funds aren’t lost—they’re invested. Required safety gear includes a helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, ear protection, and safety glasses, which can cost between $100 and $500 per item for basic quality. If the money is available to upgrade that equipment to more comfortable or well-fitting options, it’s usually worth it to do so, as the equipment will last for a long time.  

Some programs require students to purchase particular welding machines; costs vary depending on the type of welder. Supplies such as welding wire, clamps, pliers, hammers, grinders, and other project-specific tools may be supplied through the program, but otherwise the student will have to purchase those as well. Each program will provide a supply list, but if a student is comparing several programs, requesting the lists in advance will allow for closer and more accurate comparison of the cost differences between programs. In general, top-quality safety equipment such as the best welding helmets and the best welding jackets may seem pricey at first but can last the welder for years to come.

Textbooks

In some higher-education programs, textbooks seem to have gone out of style. However, the principles of welding remain the same even as new technologies are added. Therefore, textbooks are likely to be a considerable expense when factoring out the cost of welding school. Textbooks can cost anywhere between $100 and $400 apiece, though the same textbooks may be used in several classes and may be critical references throughout a welder’s career. Students should be able to get an estimate of textbook costs for each program they’re considering. Some books may also be available for rental by semester or in electronic format for a lower cost. However, if the books will be necessary for multiple courses over the duration of the program, it’s probably less expensive to buy them than to rent them repeatedly.  

A welder at work in a workshop.
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Additional Costs and Considerations

Tuition for classes, school fees, materials and equipment, and textbooks are all costs that most people anticipate when taking on a college, trade school, or training program. Welders have several other costs to account for in between finishing their program and applying for jobs as a qualified welder, and it’s important to include them in an accurate budget. 

  • Housing. If the training program isn’t located near the student’s home, budgeting for room and board at a college or an apartment nearby may actually cost as much or more than the tuition.
  • Living expenses. Regardless of where the program is, students will need to account for basic living expenses. Some programs operate in such a way that students can hold down other jobs to pay for day-to-day living, while others are more intense and don’t allow for that. Therefore, students will need to consider how to afford their living situation while in school. 
  • Geographic location. Many programs charge higher tuition and fees for out-of-state students. In-state students pay a lower rate, while out-of-state students may pay a shockingly higher price. If this is the case with a program a student is interested in, they may want to consider looking at in-state programs or looking at nearby states that have reciprocal tuition agreements with the student’s state of residency. 
  • Certification and licensing fees. Once students have completed their welding training, there are some additional expenses for them to keep in mind. Certification verifies that a welder is appropriately trained and competent to work. It also requires an exam and a fee based on the type of certification. The American Welding Society (AWS) gives the exams and provides certification; exam pricing varies by location, but the fee to become a Certified Welder costs $60, and then there’s a fee of $35 per year to maintain that certification. As a welder advances through their career, additional certifications and welding licenses may be necessary or desirable, and those can cost upward of $1,000. Members of the AWS pay a lower fee for licenses and certifications beyond the basic Certified Welder status than nonmembers. 
  • Continuing education. Because technology continues to advance and new materials and techniques are developed, welders must maintain a certain level of continuing education to keep their certification current. AWS offers continuing education courses, as do several other organizations and schools. Costs vary depending on the subject matter and length of the course. 

Types of Welding Schools

The type of school a student chooses to attend will have a huge impact on the overall cost of welding education. 

Type of Welding SchoolAverage Tuition Cost
Community college$5,000 to $15,000
Online welding school$200 to $4,000
Trade school$15,000 to $30,000

Community College

Community colleges offer a range of coursework options and are generally one of the more affordable options for welding classes. Community colleges that offer an associate degree program in welding will be the most expensive options within this range. That’s because, alongside welding technique and theory courses, they’ll provide coursework on small business management, accounting, and other areas of study that may be helpful for a welder starting their own business. Community college programs tend to run between $5,000 and $15,000 for the various program options, but there are many state and local incentive or tuition remission programs (where an employer helps finance the student’s education) available. 

Sharon Lutkus, the interim director of advanced manufacturing and welding at CT State Community College Naugatuck Valley in Waterbury, Connecticut, describes the program there as a non-credit certificate program. “It is workforce development based to be a short-term, entry-level class to help a student either achieve the basics of welding for an entry-level job or upskill people in the workforce to achieve a higher-level job,” she explains. Because the courses are designed to be short term, students can complete both basic and advanced classes in less than 5 months. 

Lutkus has partnered with the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board (NWRIB) at the Department of Labor to help students get funding. Additionally, Career Placement officers on campus as well as Career Navigators from NWRIB help students find jobs when they’ve completed the program. “The benefit of choosing our program,” Lutkus notes, “is that the classes are for 18 years and older, 85 percent of the class is hands-on, class size is limited to 10, and most students are here because they are serious about the one topic.” Other community colleges have similar programs in place, making community college welding programs a great option for serious students focused specifically on welding as well as those who want a more well-rounded program that involves business studies. 

Online Welding School

The American Welding Society, along with other organizations and schools, offers one of the best online welding courses for students who are working toward certification. Courses are also available to fulfill continuing education credits to maintain certification and to upgrade certification with additional coursework beyond the basics. Online courses are usually asynchronous and self-paced, and they are interactive. 

AWS courses run from under $200 to about $4,000, and students are given 5 months to complete each course. This makes online welding school extremely economical for the classroom portion of learning how to weld. It can also improve or increase a student’s knowledge and skills and be used as continuing education. Online welding school, however, does not provide the hands-on experience that in-person classes can. For this reason, it may be well suited to students working as an apprentice or those who have alternative access to equipment for practice.  

Trade School

Trade schools are generally a bit more expensive than community colleges because of their specific focus, but that doesn’t translate into more hours of study. Many trade school programs run between 10 months and a year, but because of the focused curriculum aimed directly at the basics and advanced techniques of specific types of welding, much learning can happen in a shorter period of time. Cost for these programs averages between $15,000 and $30,000.

Welding Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is the old-school way of learning a trade and is how welders got their training before there were schools and programs. The process has advanced over the years to include some formal education as well as hands-on, paid employment. Apprenticeships last between 3 and 4 years, requiring a minimum of 2,000 hours of hands-on training per year and 144 hours of classroom study per year. Apprentices work under a licensed journeyman welder to learn on the job, and they are paid for their work. So while apprenticeship takes a little longer than some other training programs, it’s one of the more affordable options to learn how to weld. 

A group of welding students watch a demonstration.
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What You Get Out of Welding School

Why get formal training? The prevalence of welding videos online suggests that anyone can watch a quick streaming video, pick up some equipment, and hang out their welding shingle. And while certainly there are those who have picked up skills here and there from a friend who is competent and possibly even certified, there are other benefits to attending welding school.

Access to Equipment

Welding equipment isn’t something one can just pick up and understand how to use. Before becoming a practicing welder, hours of actual practice are necessary. Unless a student purchases a raft of expensive equipment on speculation that welding will turn out to be the right career choice, there’s little chance that they’ll have exposure to the best welders, the best welding clamps, and other equipment that they’ll get to experience at a welding school. 

Well-Rounded Instruction

Once a student is certified, they can choose to work for a welding or manufacturing company and not worry about the business end of the trade. Students who envision owning their own business, on the other hand, will need skills beyond welding. Small-business management isn’t easy, and community colleges, trade schools, apprenticeships, and 4-year colleges will offer education and training in the multiple aspects of small-business ownership that are necessary for success. Welding programs also offer hands-on training and experience with welding equipment of all varieties that can’t be accessed elsewhere. 

Networking

In the trades, who you know is almost as important as what you know. Connections are everything, as a lot of work comes through word of mouth and referrals. Choosing welding school, regardless of what type, will connect students with other students whose interests are similar, teachers who have connections in the industry, and job placement offices. This can increase their opportunities to find steady, well-compensated work.

Increased Job Opportunities

Community colleges and trade schools for welding are where many companies seeking welders go to shop for new employees. Many programs have partnerships in place to help students find jobs after they’ve completed the program. And apprenticeships actually provide a job while students are training. Potential employers will see those who have attended formal training as committed, well-rounded workers who are ready to get to work. 

Industry Recognition

Students planning to open their own business can leverage their welding school advantage by posting the name of their school and the qualifications they have achieved right in their letterhead, resume, and anywhere else it seems appropriate. Potential customers will note the training and commitment evidenced by attendance at the school and translate that confidence into jobs. Students who plan to work for a company will find that completion of a welding school program opens doors. Employers recognize the value of the training and knowledge that comes with the completion of such training.  

Two welders at work.
Photo: istock.com

How to Save Money on and Pay for Welding School

How much does welding school cost in the end? At first glance it might be too much for many potential welders just starting out. Luckily, welding is an in-demand trade, which means there are quite a few ways to save money on welding school cost. Doing so will require a little research, but it will likely be worthwhile in savings. 

  • Buy good-quality equipment. Safety items such as the best welding gloves and the best welding boots may seem like just another expense, but buying quality items ensures they’ll last for years to come.
  • Do your research. Look for a program that includes basic equipment in the cost.
  • Ask about funding. Check with local and state vocational and workforce programs to see if there are funded programs available, especially those funded by workforce development grants. 
  • Check into free tuition. See if your local community colleges offer welding programs, then check whether your state offers free community college tuition for first-time students.
  • Consider other resources. Are you a veteran? GI bill tuition remission can be used for accredited welding school programs.  
  • Look for an employer to sponsor you. Check with the school to see if it partners with employers who will cover tuition in exchange for a period of employment during school or after graduation.
  • Search the internet for scholarships. Many trade programs and local unions or organizations offer substantial scholarships for those interested in learning a trade, so you may find more groups willing to pay for your studies than you expect. 

Questions to Ask About Welding School

Welding isn’t just one skill—it’s actually many different skills put together in different ways, and a good welding program will teach most of them. Some welding courses are more limited (and usually less expensive), so it’s important to ask questions that will help you understand whether or not a program is right for you and worth the cost. These are some questions prospective students may need answers to before they decide whether welding classes cost too much or are within their budget. 

  • How long will the program take?
  • What is included in the cost of the program? Will I need to purchase my own equipment?
  • What types of classes do you offer? 
  • Are there enough machines for everyone to practice with? 
  • Which types of certification do you offer (pipe welding, plate welding, combo welding)? 
  • Which welding positions are taught? What types of welds do you cover?
  • Do you offer connections to potential employers or apprenticeship programs?

FAQs

Because there are so many variables, it can be a little confusing to try to decide what kind of welding school makes the most sense for your career aspirations. These are some of the most common questions asked about welding school and their answers to help students get started.

Q. Is it worth getting a degree in welding?

While in the past welding was a trade best learned from more experienced welders on the job, more and more employers are now requiring at least some postsecondary training before they’ll hire a welder. A certification, trade school program, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree will make it easier to get a start. While a degree may not be strictly required at the beginning, it’s likely one will be necessary if a welder wants to change jobs or advance. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get the fundamental training done up front and then move into a career prepared to work and advance. It’s worth the cost of welding school to secure future employment.

Q. How long is welding school?

The length of training depends on the type of schooling. A bachelor’s degree takes the longest at 4 years, while an associate degree usually takes 2 years. Certification programs average between 6 and 18 months. In addition, aspiring welders can choose to work as an apprentice to learn the trade over several years. There are also combination programs where certification and apprenticeship are combined.

Q. Do welders do a lot of math?

Indeed they do! Welding requires a lot of calculation of force and measurement. Fractions, geometry, formulas, and trigonometry all come into play when welders are calculating cutting force, looking to understand the effect of heat at certain temperatures on different materials, and reading blueprint scales.

Q. What is the highest-paid welding job?

In general, welding engineers are the highest-paid welders in the industry. The engineer has to choose the equipment for each job, then create a cost-effective plan for welders to follow. If unusual materials are to be welded, they provide tutorials and demonstrations until the welders performing the work are successful. Then they ensure the final work is up to the client’s standards. In addition, a welding engineer coordinates suppliers, manages safety strategies on-site, and also handles compliance and documentation functions. It’s a high-responsibility job, but it pays between $71,500 and $98,500 per year. 

Q. What is the hardest thing to learn in welding?

There are two types of welding that are the most popular: MIG (metal inert gas) and TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding. When comparing MIG vs. TIG welding, students will find that the latter is much harder to learn. MIG welding machines create an electrical current that runs to a handheld torch that the welder uses to join together pieces of metal. TIG welding, on the other hand, requires the welder to use both hands to control the machine, and many machines use a foot pedal. Therefore, TIG welders require a lot more coordination to use than MIG welders, making TIG welding one of the hardest skills to learn. Balancing the foot control of two variables while the hand controls a third takes a tremendous amount of practice to get right. Once the skill is learned, it gives the welder much more control over the precision of a welding job, but it’s a very slow process to achieve mastery over the skill.

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