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Welding Schools

If becoming a welder in general, or working as a offshore welder or underwater welder in particular is a career path that appeals to you, then the next step is simply to get the training you'll need for AWS certification. For that, you may want to consider welding schools.

Certification can be done at a vocational or technical school, through union apprenticeship via the Ironworkers Union, or self-study and on-the-job training. There are pros and cons for each path, and it ultimately depends on the kind of welding you want to do, as well as where you would enjoy working.

If the prospect of combining work with travel appeals to you, then consider getting the training and certificates needed to hire on to the offshore rigs; once you have some offshore experience, you can pretty much work anywhere in the world. 

Welding Vocational Programs

Most career-level vocational programs will run 3 to 6 months to qualify for an entry-level position. There are many good welding voc-tech programs across the country, teaching every conceivable type of welding and procedure, but the most important thing is of course to master the basics before choosing one or more specializations.

When choosing a program or school, make sure you they offer a good foundation as well as opportunities to pick up a specialty. Consider your long-term career goals, and choose a program that will best support that.

When choosing a school, ensure they are accredited and offer financial aid. If you have been layed off and are collecting unemployment, your chances of getting your education paid for are quite good, and certainly a great time to pick up the training needed to start a new career.

The school you choose should offer certifications as part of the program, especially the AWS Certificate of Completion, Certified AWS Entry Level Welder, and your AWS Entry Level Welder Certification Card. These will open a lot of doors for you. A good combination welding - pipe fitting program with certification testing might look something like this: 

  • Plasma/Oxyacetylene Welding/Cutting
  • 60 hours
  • Electric Arc Flat Position
  • 90 hours
  • Electric Arc Horizontal Position
  • 60 hours
  • Electric Arc Vertical Position
  • 90 hours
  • Electric Arc Overhead Position
  • 60 hours
  • Gas Metal Arc Welding (MIG) (Short Arc/ Globular/ Spray Arc/ Pulsed Arc transfer applications)
  • 60 hours
  • Flux Cored Arc Welding (Self-Shielded/ Gas Shielded)
  • 30 hours
  • Pipe Welding All Positions
  • 60 hours
  • Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG)
  • 90 hours
  • Theory
  • 75 hours
  • Blueprint Reading
  • 35 hours
  • Combination Processes
  • 30 hours
  • Layout/Fitting & Student Project
  • 100 hours
  • Certification Testing
  • 60 hours
  • 900 hours

On-The-Job Training

If you do already have some welding experience, consider hiring on as an offshore oil rig maintenance roustabout. As a maintenance roustabout with welding experience, you can work as a welding assistant to an experienced offshore welder, where you will master specific procedures and equipment used on the rigs.

Between your 2 to 4 week hitches (with 2 to 4 weeks off between hitches), you can continue the process of working towards your AWS certification, and when an rig welder opening comes up, be first on the roustabout crew to move up; offshore contractors love to promote from within.  

If you are interested in finding offshore welding jobs, one of the fastest ways to get hired is to utilize the services provided by The Oil and Gas Jobs Resource Kit. For what they charge, $37.00, they provide a lot of value:  a 50 page how-to on oil rig jobs resume creation that meets oil industry criteria, an 83 page manual on the types of oil jobs and where to find them; and 83 page guide on how an oil rig works, over 200 pages of oil and drilling company profiles, large and small, all over the world.  They also tie it all together in a seperate strategy manual on finding oil jobs.  They guarantee your satisfaction with their services, and you will get a lot of bang for the buck. 

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