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How To Become A Welder

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Welding can be an excellent career choice for anybody who enjoys working with their hands with an interest in construction, civil engineering or aerospace/maritime. Experienced welders make good money, too—up to £33,000 annually, depending on experience.

You might also be interested to know that you don’t need an advanced qualification or further education in order to become a welder, and while every welding business is different many will offer training on the job or apprenticeships/internships, so if you’re looking to get into work after school or college then welding can be ideal.

How to become a Welder UK

There are two primary ways to become a qualified welder:

  • College courses
  • Apprenticeships

You might be wondering which is best for you. At first, it can be intimidating picking a route and sticking to it, so hopefully this guide can help you make an informed decision.

What skills do you need to be a Welder?

There isn’t a set list of criteria you’ll need to meet in order to become a quality welder. However, if you possess the following, there’s a good chance you’d fit the blueprint for other great welders.

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Interest/knowledge of engineering, technology
  • Self-motivated
  • Happy using, repairing and maintaining tools/machines
  • Good with numbers
  • Strong hand-eye coordination
  • Analytical mindset for quality
  • Basic IT skills

If you think you might fit the bill, let’s run through the options you have.

1. College Course

College courses are an excellent option for anyone who enjoys learning in a classroom and applying their lessons practically. Courses provide you with not only an excellent foundation on your journey to becoming a welder but also offer a great base for your CV, improving your employability in other engineering-related fields should you choose to go in a different direction.

What qualifications/education do you need to get into a Welding course?

Entry requirements are different for every college, so don’t be surprised to see some variations between different courses, but you could expect to be accepted into most courses provided you meet these criteria:

  • Level 1: 0-2 GCSEs (pass or above)
  • Level 2: 2+ GCSEs (D or above)
  • Level 3: 4-5 GCSEs (C or above)

Courses would probably be less suited to someone who has more of a ‘hands-on’ learning style, so if you’re looking to get your hands dirty as early as possible you’ll probably want to consider an apprenticeship. Courses will, however, help you to become a much more well-rounded welder, explaining more advanced concepts much earlier into your welding career than you’d learn ‘on the job’.

How to find Welding courses near me?

The majority of UK courses advertise through the National Careers Service portal, so this would be our first port of call if we were on the hunt. It’ll be worth checking the websites for your local colleges, too, just in case there are some courses they only advertise locally.

If you’re looking to sharpen your tool set, perhaps before your course starts, then try the UK’s free online course portal. It’ll help prepare you for the start of your course, and can provide some extra qualifications for your CV.

Specialist Welding courses

Specialist courses are, naturally, designed more for people already working in the engineering/welding industry, and so are probably less appropriate for someone looking to get their start in the market. It’s a good idea to be aware of them, however, and to see some of the roles you might be able to take on later in your career.

We’d recommend The Welding Institute as a good source for all things advanced welding training.

2. Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are an excellent way to help build up your skillset, gain experience in a working environment and often result in a job offer, either from your employer or another one locally looking for fully trained apprentices. The UK government knows this, offering bonuses for any business that hires apprentices, so the UK apprentice market post-COVID looks like it’ll be in a good spot.

There are 3 levels in the UK apprenticeship market:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeship: A few GCSEs (or equivalent), likely including English and Maths
  • Advanced Apprenticeship: 5+ GCSEs (C or above) (or equivalent), including English and Maths
  • Higher Apprenticeship: Foundation Degree (or equivalent)

Apprenticeships have a few unique benefits when compared to courses—you’ll be paid for the time you spend working (although don’t expect to earn as much as the full-time staff) and you’ll be sent to training courses/classes provided by your employer to help grow your ability. The ultimate goal is, of course, to receive a job offer at the end of it—ideally with your current employer, assuming you’ve enjoyed yourself.

Traineeships

Traineeships are ideal for anybody not yet eligible for an apprenticeship or unsure of which path they’d like to take their career down. This could be a college student, a recent graduate or perhaps someone seeking a career change.

They’re typically 70-100 hours of work over the course of a couple of months (although time frames are flexible depending on your requirements). Designed to give you a taste of what’s on offer in the industry, they’ll also give you a valuable balance of classroom teaching and on the job learning to help you work out if welding is something you might like to pursue long-term.

How to apply for a Welding apprenticeship?

The process for applying for a welding apprenticeship is a fairly simple one. The government provide a job portal for apprenticeships to be advertised online, so take a look locally and see if you can find what you’re looking for.

Careers events at local businesses, colleges and town halls can be another great way to try and find potential employers. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions you might have relating to the industry or that business in particular, and if you’re not 100% sure about what you want to do then you might find something that catches your eye.

Finally, a quick Google search for local welding businesses can be a great way to see who’s hiring locally. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sending over a copy of your CV (and your motivations for applying) so don’t be afraid to be direct—many employers will appreciate your keenness and work-ethic for doing so.

What does a Welder do in the UK?

While every day will inevitably be different, there are a few tasks that are likely to take up the majority of your working week. Keep in mind that welding jobs usually require you to travel to your client’s site, so be prepared to spend time on the road (and because of this you may also find a driving license beneficial during your application process—well worth mentioning on your CV if you do have one).

Here are some of the things you can expect to get up to on a typical day:

  • Creating drawings to follow
  • Closely following engineering drawings
  • Checking material dimensions
  • Preparing materials for welding
  • Operating, calibrating and maintaining tools/equipment
  • Cutting up metal
  • Testing welds and joins for sturdiness, quality

Do I need insurance as a Welder?

Absolutely—welding is a dangerous business, and whenever fire/heat is involved it’s important to make sure you’re protected if something does go wrong. Our Welders insurance guide is a great starting point for anyone wondering what they do/don’t need to set up as a welder.

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How much does a Welder earn UK?

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average UK welder earns £28,604 annually. Welders in the South East, are the best off, taking home £32,766 each year, with Welsh welders the worst off, making just over £24,000.

It’s as good a time as any to become a welder, too. YouthEmployment estimates that around 50% of the workforce will be coming to retirement age in the next 10 years, so there might be no better time to get your foot in the door at a good company.

graph showing the average salary for welders in the UK
RegionAverage Salary
Wales£24,008
South West£24,798
West Midlands£26,103
North West£26,927
North East£27,564
National Average£28,604
East Midlands£29,564
East£32,016
Yorkshire and The Humber£32,180
Scotland£32,527
South East£32,766

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.