Is Welding Hard (And Can You Teach Yourself)?

When I was looking at getting into welding, I wondered how difficult it was. So, before diving in head-first, I did some research to determine how hard welding really is.

So is welding hard? For most people, welding is moderately to very difficult to learn how to do, as it’s a hands-on skill that requires more than just reading. Furthermore, welding is very difficult to actually do for most people, because it takes years and years of practice, on top of learning how to do it.

But as you can imagine, much of this depends on a variety of factors. Some of you will learn how to weld quickly, but struggle when it comes to actually doing it. Others will excel at both. Some won’t pick it up at all. Let’s explore the factors that contribute to the difficulty of learning how to weld.

What Factors Determine How Hard Welding Is?

Learning how to weld properly requires a number of things:

1. Knowledge

You’ll need to not only understand basic chemistry but also know the ins and outs of welding, including best practices and tips for being more successful.

2. Time For Practical Application

Welding takes years to master, at least. Like learning how to master anything else, welding will take time and energy to learn how to do it correctly and efficiently.

3. Patience

This isn’t an overnight thing. You can’t (or at least, shouldn’t) simply watch a YouTube video or read a blog post then immediately try welding. You could get seriously hurt – or at the very least, waste a ton of money. Have patience when you’re learning, and be okay with failing.

4. An Excellent Teacher

Having a strong instructor will make you even better at welding. Like any other trade, you should find the best schooling and/or teacher to educate you properly on welding as you learn.

5. Being Smart About Safety

Welding is incredibly dangerous if you’re not careful, and if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll need to invest time and money in the right safety equipment so you don’t hurt yourself.

6. Money

You can make good money as a welder, but you’ll also need to be willing to invest in the right equipment. This means not settling for cheap machines, accessories, and safety equipment, as they can harm you or your business in the future.

These are just some of the factors that go into determining how hard welding can be. If you don’t place a focus on the above items, it’ll make the learning curve much longer for you.

The Fastest Way To Learn Welding

As much as I’d love to say you can learn everything you need to know about welding from this website, you can’t. We can teach you the basics and give you a ton of information about what you need to know, but you won’t master the skill until you’ve spent time doing it.

So the fastest paths to learning how to weld are:

1. Get A Job As A Welder

Getting a job as a welder with no experience probably won’t happen. But as an apprentice, you can work with an experienced welder and learn the trade, hands-on. This is sort of like an internship, so it won’t be the sexiest job in the world, but it will at least give you a chance to learn the trade.

To find an apprenticeship, I’d recommend starting with two websites:

  1. apprenticeship.gov (owned by the U.S. Department of Labor)
  2. careeronestop.org (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor)

Just do a search for “welder” or “welding” on each of those sites and it should give you a list of opportunities. If no opportunities show up, you should receive a link to your state’s apprenticeship website for further information.

Like any other job site, you’ll be able to see

  • When the apprenticeship was posted
  • Where it’s located (the city, state, and company)
  • The minimum requirements needed
  • Any relevant contact information
  • Travel requirements, if applicable
  • The type of welding required (i.e., MIG, TIG, stick, flux-cored arc)

Both sites allow you apply directly from the site, so it should be a fairly simple process.

2. Find A Career Path That Allows You To Weld Often

You don’t necessarily have to be a welder or welder’s apprentice to learn how to weld. Here are several career paths you can look into that will involve welding on a daily or weekly basis, according to the Advanced Career Institute:

  • Assemblers and fabricators. Here you’ll use welding to put the finishing touches on things like electronics, toys, and computers, but also larger things like boats and aircraft.
  • Boilermakers. As a boilermaker, you’ll make steel fabrications from things like tubes and plates, and you’ll typically travel to the site to do this (think bridges and mining equipment).
  • Jeweler, precious stone, and metal workers. This is a different type of welding, where you’ll spend most days working on small pieces of precious metal or expensive jewelry, restoring it to its original look and feel.
  • Machinists, tool, and die makers. In this career, you’ll work primarily on welding tools and machines used in transportation or construction (i.e., buses, construction tools, automobiles).
  • Sheet metal workers. Pretty much what it says – you’ll weld large sheets of metal together to make larger sheets that go into the production of other products.
  • Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. You may not weld as often, but in these fields, you’ll weld when plumbing and pipefitting in both residential and commercial buildings. It’s important to ensure accuracy here since you’ll have to make sure the work is up to code.
  • Metal and plastic machine workers. You’ll set up and operate machines that go into the production of metal and plastic pieces.

As you can see, there are a number of careers you can choose that aren’t in welding specifically, but you’ll learn the trade quickly and reduce the time it takes to get better at it.

What To Look For In A Good Welding School

Before deciding on a good welding school, make sure you’ve taken the time to read up on welding, its pros and cons, and whether it’s the right career path for you.

Remember, you don’t go into welding to become rich (but it can be a rewarding career), and you’ll need to be comfortable working around heat, up high at times, and in dangerous situations.

Once you’ve determined that, it’s time to find a good welding school (unless you jump right into an apprenticeship of course).

A good welding school should teach you:

  • Welding both pipe and plate
  • Welding in a variety of welding positions
  • All the major welding processes (i.e., stick, MIG, TIG, and flux-cored arc welding)
  • Reading blueprints
  • Welding inspection
  • Pipe fitting
  • Metal cutting
  • Metallurgy

Also, be aware of the time you’ll need to spend in welding school. Most good welding schools will last upwards of 18 months, but usually not less than 9 months. Be prepared to go a full 8-hours a day, and you can also expect to take extra courses if you’re doing an Associate’s Degree with it.

Another thing to consider is the ratio of students in a booth. You’ll practice your welding in a booth, and some schools have a ratio of 3:1 or more. This means that you’ll share a booth with 2 other people – cutting down your practice time. If you can swing it, find one with a 1:1 ratio, or at worst a 2:1 ratio.

Know if you’ll be receiving a welding certification or a welding certificate – there’s a big difference. A welding certification ensures you’ve proven your ability in welding and all the key processes within the field. A certificate simply states you’ve completed a program, and nothing else.

Finally, cost and an Associate’s Degree are big factors. Like anything else, you get what you pay for with welding school. Do your research and make sure you’re getting out of it what you pay. You’ll also need to consider whether you want to take some additional courses and work on an Associate’s Degree, which may help you be more marketable overall.

Tips On Making Time To Learn Welding

Since you’ll need to invest the time and energy to learn how to weld correctly, here are some tips to ensure it goes smoother:

  1. Perfect practice makes perfect. Take the time to do things right instead of rushing through the motions.
  2. Fail fast. It’s okay to fail, in fact, that’s how you’ll learn best. Make sure you fail quickly though and learn from your mistakes.
  3. Get enough sleep. When working with dangerous equipment it’s best to ensure you’re getting enough sleep, both to cognitively retain the information you’re learning, but also make sure you’re attentive and focused.
  4. Test yourself however you can. Whether that’s reading this blog or doing some live-action welding, testing can help improve your retention. For more information, the American Psychological Association has some great tips on studying smart here.
  5. Be okay with it taking a long time. Malcolm Gladwell says in his book, Outliers, that it takes a person about 10,000 hours to master a skill. Don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking you’ll master welding in a matter of months.

Related Questions

Is welding dangerous?

Welding is safe if the proper safety precautions are taken, but can be extremely dangerous if they aren’t. You need to ensure you have the correct tools, you’re properly wearing the correct safety equipment, and you’ve been trained by a professional, among other factors.

Is welding a good career?

Welding can be a very rewarding career – both financially and personally – if you know what you’re doing. Also, it does not require a college degree, so the barrier to entry is lower.

About Pierre Young

Photo of author
Hey, I'm Pierre Young a qualified AWS Certified Welder. I got into welding in 2009 as a side hustle. Ever since then, I've been doing all kinds of welds - both for business and pleasure. While immersing myself in this wonderful hobby, I've learned from hands-on experience what welding gear works and what doesn't. Welding Headquarters is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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