Welding is a technical profession with a lot of room for growth, and the best place to get that growth started is a good college. But what colleges are good, and what makes them that way?
I put this article together to help answer that question, by giving a brief breakdown of a lot of excellent welding schools and their programs, and what might make them right for you. These are numbered but in no particular order; all of these are good and what makes them right for you is going to vary based on your location and needs.
1. Tulsa Welding School
This school offers several different training courses, depending on your goals, each with different benefits and drawbacks. The main factors you’re looking at are time and money. Tulsa’s Master Welder program, for example, can run you over $40,000 for the course, and takes 30 weeks of your time. Undeniably thorough, but perhaps not the best course to take off the bat, in which case they do offer faster and cheaper courses which are less thorough (and don’t typically cover pipe welding)
The course is undeniably good, but keep in mind the school is located in a very high crime area, and Jacksonville is a sprawling maze of a city (the largest by area in the US), so you’ll want to try to get a place close to campus.
- Location: Jacksonville, FL
- Website: https://www.weldingschool.com/get-started/distance-jax/
- Phone: (855)-237-7678
2. Hobart Institute of Welding Technology
Hobart offers a variety of different courses, from very basic ($900 for a 2 week crash course) to highly specialized (like an aerospace welding course, which will run you $1600 of the 2 week, 70 hour training course). The school runs on more of an a la carte system rather than some others’ more college-like course structure, where you can pick and choose your classes and pay as you go. Great place for getting started up fast and then coming back for supplemental training.
- Location: Troy, OH
- Website: https://www.welding.org/
- Phone: 1-800-332-9448
3. Lincoln Electric Welding School
Lincoln Electric offers a wide variety of services and courses tailored to you. Rather than a traditional school or trade college approach, Lincoln Electric offers training for individuals and groups, set up via targeted training regimens. As a result course length and prices vary wildly, and you’ll need to chat with someone at length to get concrete details.
Their website layout is not the greatest, and will run you in circles until you give them your information and wait to have someone contact you.
- Location: Cleveland, OH
- Website: https://education.lincolnelectric.com/programs/welding-training-for-industry/
- Phone: 1 (888) 610-9206
4. Welder Testing and Training Institute
WTTI offers a variety of basic and advanced training courses, and runs a bit more like a traditional college. Courses are measured in hundreds of credit hours and price fluctuates based on the course, but they are comprehensive tutorials not just on welding, but many of the other necessary skills to make a long term career out of welding, like reading welding blueprints and combination processes.
If you’re in the area or don’t mind a move the school is an excellent source for comprehensive welder training. If you’re already trained in those skills, they do also offer shorter training courses in specific welding processes (starting at 60 hours).
- Location: Allentown, PA
- Website: https://wtti.edu/
- Phone: 610-437-9720
5. South Seattle College
This one offers a wide range of welder and welding fabricator degree paths, but is specialized to an extent in Maritime Welding, due to their partnership with the Vigor Industrial Shipyards. It provides an excellent straight through pipeline form education to career, so if you want to be a maritime welder and get on the job training with a six month course, this line is perfect for you.
Their other courses are good as well, but the maritime welding course is definitely the focus of their main training center.
- Location: Seattle, WA
- Website: https://www.southseattle.edu/programs/proftech/welding/
- Phone: 206-934-5300
6. Central Louisiana Technical Community College
Central Louisiana Technical Community College is our first technical college. It has a great, relatively cheap and fast course, but unfortunately lacks more in-depth schooling.
CLTCC can get you started off with its 4 semester, 60 hour (15 hours per semester course) at a reasonable $2402 per semester rate, after which you’ll be certified for a variety of welding jobs.
The great thing about a tech college over a traditional college is the flexibility, both to pay and attend. It’s perfect for working another job and attending at the same time.
- Alexandria, LA
- Website: http://www.cltcc.edu/
- Tel: 1-800-278-9855
7. University of Anchorage Alaska
One of the interesting things about the University of Anchorage Alaska is that it combines its welding program with a comprehensive non-destructive testing course, which is a rarity among welding colleges. This increases your value and general knowledge in the field, making you much better able to do your job. The area around is nice as well, being a huge campus (biggest in the state) while being out in the countryside.
As a bonus, starting with the 2019 academic year, all prices have been reduced by 25% for tuition per semester! Definitely a worthwhile opportunity.
- Location: Anchorage, AK
- Website: https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/
- Phone: 907-786-1800
8. Arizona Automotive Institute
Arizona Automotive Institute does offer standard combination welding courses, but as you might expect specializes in automobiles particularly, and offers courses in automotive maintenance as well. Useful if you want to work in auto manufacturing or a similar field.
Courses are typically 40 weeks, so you know you’re getting a comprehensive education. They also have a very good Career Services program that helps you learn basic business skills like networking and selling yourself as an employee, which is sadly overlooked in a lot of technical or trade colleges.
- Location: Glendale, AZ
- Website: http://www.aai.edu/
- Phone: 888-419-9440
9. Albany Technical College
Albany Tech offers a full comprehensive course in welding, with mandatory basic courses like Fundamentals if English and Interpersonal Relations. The course is very well laid out and imparts a variety of skills over the duration of your schooling, but the 56 hour mandatory courses before you get to the “important” welding courses may sour some people on the program.
While undeniably good, those in a rush or not wishing to pursue a long term career in welding may want to consider a tech college’s crash course in welding before going for a comprehensive course like this.
- Location: Albany, Georgia
- Website: http://www.albanytech.edu/
- Phone: 229-430-3500
10. Southwestern Illinois College
Southwestern Illinois offers a variety of course sin welding, from basic, to advanced, and specialized welding types (pipe welding particularly). It’s a great one stop campus for anyone in the area, whether they want to be a professional or just brush up their welding skills or a hobby, with courses arranged ala carte by credit hours for easy picking and choosing. All will get you certified by the end and they can be taken in any order, though there’s a petty clear progression.
It’s an all ages school, so don’t be shy about signing up for advanced training even if you’re already an experienced welder!
- Location: Belleville, Illinois
- Website: http://www.swic.edu/
- Phone: 618-235-2700
11. Andrews University
Andrews University is an excellent school, with a few caveats. He first is their coursework: rigorous and thorough, to be sure, but specialized. Welding is offered as part and parcel of their Aviation track, not as its own separate entity. If you like the idea of being an aviation specialized welder, go for it: there’s not a whole lot of schools out there that match or exceed their program.
The second thing to keep in mind is Andrews is a Christian school; Seven Day Adventist specifically, and it is a big part of their campus identity and you are expected to hold those same beliefs as a student.
If both of those sound up your alley, it’s an excellent school.
- Location: Berrien Springs, MI
- Website: https://www.andrews.edu/
- Phone: 1-888-272-3809
12. Boise State University
Another specialized school, and fairly unique. Boise State is great for the aspiring artist welder, as it offers welding as part of its “Assembled Form” art course, which teaches processes for making sculptures of composite materials, including metal. If you want a crash course in TIG welding and how it can be used to make aesthetically pleasing items, this is a great school for it.
If you’re not interested in art, of course give this a pass, but it’s a good school that shows welding is a valuable skill for more than just industrial work.
- Location: Boise, ID
- Website: http://www.boisestate.edu/
- Phone: 208-426-1000
13. American Welding Society
The American Welding Society offers excellent training in most aspects of welding you could think of, setting the standard for welding. You can either follow their courses, attend conferences, speak with experienced professionals, and more, all either in person or online.
So what’s the catch? Well, they have a membership program, and non-members pay a premium for their services. Ads an example, their Fundamentals of Welding I course costs members $350…and non-members $470.
The training is good but the price hike might be more than you’re willing to stomach if you’re not willing to commit to their membership program.
- Location: Miami, FL
- Website: http://www.aws.org/
- Phone: 800-443-9353
14. Elite Welding Academy
Elite Welding Academy offers a single course: Structural and Pipe Welding. The course is good though, and provides everything you need to become a welder and be job ready in that field over its time. It’s a meaty course; 1000 hours over 26 weeks (6 months), so requires your full attention as a 40 hour per week education opportunity. The alternative is their new night classes, which are only 24 hours per week, and stretch out the 1000 hours over an 11 month period. The latter is, of course, perfect if you already have a job.
As with most lengthy courses, prices here vary, but they do offer a handy, easy to understand price calculator, which is a leg up over most of the college structured welding schools on this list, which need a more personal touch to find exact prices.
- Location: Cincinnati, OH
- Website: http://www.eliteweldingacademy.com/
- Phone: 1-888-272-3809
15. Modern Welding School
This is a great one in the New York area, for both hobby welding and professional certifications, though it caters more to the former. They offer two professional courses. “Course 6” covers most basic types of welding (find more info) , but is a part time (evenings only) course, running you 665 hours over a 45 week period. Not the fastest, but not too shabby either. It’ll run you $13, 781.
“Course 7” is their full time combination welding course, and will run you $17,992 for the 30 week, 900 hour course.
They also offer a hobby welding workshop, which can be as low as $200 for a 6 hour training course.
All of these courses are good, thorough, and fairly quick, so are a good deal for anyone in the area.
- Location: Schenectady, NY
- Website: http://modernwelding.com/
- Phone: 518-374-1216
16. Pennsylvania College of Technology
This school may be the best opportunity on this list for a comprehensive welding education. It offers 4 course programs (welding, welding technology, metal fabrication technology, and welding and fabrication engineering technology). The latter gets you an Associates of Applied Science, which looks great on a resume.
All the courses are thorough and practical, and the school is soon to get access to something unique: a beam welder, which no other school in the US currently has unfettered access to. That alone might be worth moving across the country, as getting in on the ground floor of emerging technology is always an excellent opportunity.
- Location: Williamsport, PN
- Website: https://www.pct.edu/
- Phone: 570-326-3761
17. Montana State University
Montana State offers a Certificate of Applied Science (not quite the same as a degree, but still great to have) for finishing their welding course as well as listing in the AWS National Registry of Welders (which your employers will be looking for).
The course is comprehensive and well laid out, though it only starts in the fall, and enrollment is limited; it appears to be a very in demand course at Montana State University. If you’re interested make sure to get in while you can.
- Location: Bozeman, MT
- Website: http://www.montana.edu/
- Phone: 406-994-0211
18. Vincennes University
Partnered with Lincoln Electric, Vincennes University’s courses are taught by Lincoln Electric trainers sent from their headquarters in Cleveland, so in many ways it shares a lot of talents with the Lincoln Electric Welding School up top.
They offer a 2 year comprehensive course with a focus on positioning and analysis, or a 1 year concentrated crash course with a certificate at the end. Both are taught by excellent trainers, and offer a wide variety of skills, though I think the 2 year course offers a lot more in the long run for helping you kickstart a career.
- Location: Vincennes, IN
- Website: http://www.vinu.edu/
- Phone: 812-888-VUVU
19. Siena Heights University
Sienna Heights is an interesting option. One not worth moving across the country for (though you don’t necessarily need to), but certainly interesting if you’re nearby.
It offers a welding technology degree, but also a number of art classes focused around welding and metalsmithing. This is interesting for refining your skills, or great as a short class chain for a hobbyist who doesn’t necessarily want a degree. Small class sizes means it’s easy to get concentrated tutoring, which is always a plus.
You can also take advantage of their online resources to brush up on your skills form anywhere…but that I usually find is impractical with such a hands on skill as welding.
- Location: Adrian, MI
- Website: http://www.sienaheights.edu/
- Phone: 800-521-0009
20. Idaho State University
Idaho State offers a great system for welding, having multiple smaller courses that can be taken separately to build to a bigger degree.
The Welder-Fitter Associate of Applied Science runs you 2 years, and costs $18, 257. The Welder-Fitter Technical Certificate will run you $17, 831 for a 2 year course, and the General Welder Intermediate Technical Certificate takes 1 year and costs $9, 831.
You can take any or all of these for your education and come out a very well rounded welder, and come out of it with more opportunity for a 4 year Bachelor of Applied Science Degree afterward for more specialized tasks.
Having the degree in addition to the certificate is a huge perk, so it’s great when a school offers it.
- Location: Pocatello, ID
- Website: http://www.isu.edu/
- Phone: 208-282-0211
21. Ferris State University
Ferris State’s welding technology course very interesting. They only offer it once every few years, taking the time to focus on a group of students throughout both years of their education. The next class starts with the 2020 academic year, so now is the perfect time for it.
If you can get in, it’s an excellent course, with a lot of hands on work (and even an internship built in) and focused tutoring and classes form the instructors, with relatively small class sizes. Highly recommended as an option.
- Location: Big Rapids, MI
- Website: http://www.ferris.edu/
- Phone: 231-591-2000
22. Apex Technical School
Apex Technical is the premier tech college in the area, and its welding program is no exception. You’re looking at a comprehensive 900 hour (roughly 30 weeks) hands on learning program that will teach you everything from all the different welding processes you’re likely to use to blueprint reading, and more.
It’s a great course and well worth it if you’re anywhere in the New York area. Just be sure to have your living arrangement figured out before going, since they are a tech college; they have no campus or on site accommodations.
- Location: New York, NY
- Website: http://www.apextechnical.com/
- Phone: 212-645-3300
23. Ashland Community and Technical College
Ashland offers 2 Associate of Applied Science degrees (Welding technology and Pipe Welding), a diploma (Combination Welding) and 9 certificates for each type of common welding (Arc, pipeline, etc.). It’s a very well laid out education path, and a good one to boot.
The only real drawback is it doesn’t have any on site accommodation, being primarily a tech college, so you’ll have to either move or commute if you don’t already life close by.
- Location: Ashland, KY
- Website: http://www.ashland.kctcs.edu/
- Phone: 606-326-2000
24. South Georgia Technical College
This is one of the colleges to beat. It offers an insanely wide variety of welding choices, including underwater welding (a rarity) and focused welding specialties (like motorsports chassis technician).
If there’s some esoteric branch of welding you always wanted to do, you can’t go wrong with this goal. It’s perfect for both new and experienced welders looking to pick up a new skillset.
Whether you want to be an artist or an industrial welder, they have courses for all of it. Prices and course length, of course, vary depending on what you’re doing, so be sure to look into each individual course to see which fits your needs.
- Location: Americus, Georgia
- Website: http://www.southgatech.edu/
- Phone: 229-931-2732
25. South Georgia Technical College
Capital Area Technical College offers a very comprehensive welding course, that covers a lot of minutiae that might be rolled into larger courses and glossed over by other schools. The school is meant to provide skilled labor to the workforce in the area (Louisiana always needs skilled labor, particularly in the construction, manufacturing, maintenance, and adjacent industries) and take that role very seriously., so you can be sur you’re receiving a top notch education.
It also offers a wide variety of other degree programs supplemental to welding, so it may be worth researching those as well.
- Location: Baton Rouge, LA
- Website: http://www.mybrcc.edu/
- Phone: 1-866-217-9823
I want to reiterate that all of these schools are good, and whether they’re right for you is mostly dependent on proximity, since most factors here are equal in every other aspect. All are good programs, and all will get you ready to join the workforce.
The main ones I’d say are worth moving yourself across the country for are South Georgia technical College and Pennsylvania College of Technology, since they offer rare or unique opportunities (underwater welding training and use of a beam welder respectively) that are hard to get elsewhere. Other than that, all of these are viable choices.