In recent years, fields and professions that have traditionally been male-dominated are seeing more and more women join in. These industries range from the technology sector to construction. One field that is making an effort to welcome women is welding. If you’re a woman who’s looking for a career that is fulfilling, challenging, and well-paying, welding might be right for you.
What Do Welders Do?
Welders join two pieces of metal together using heat. A welder might build large objects, such as boats or airplanes. Some welders make smaller items, such as table lamps or furniture. Some welders build or repair infrastructures, such as bridges and tunnels. Welders work across various settings, such as repair shops, factories, or in their own private studio spaces.
As of 2020, there were about 418,200 welders in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of welding positions to increase by about 8% by 2030, which is average for all occupations 1, but greater than for other manufacturing occupations.
One of the reasons there’s continued demand for welders in the U.S. is that many larger jobs, such as building or repairing bridges, need to be performed on-site. They can’t be outsourced to other countries.
Of the more than 400,000 welders in the U.S., only about 5% are women2.
Why Aren’t There More Women Welders?
One of the primary reasons there aren’t more women welders is that women aren’t traditionally encouraged to go into welding careers, just as they aren’t usually encouraged to pursue careers in technology or science.
The welding work environment has also traditionally been less than hospitable to women. Some factories don’t have women’s restrooms available, for example.
In some cases, women have concerns about entering male-dominated industries, such as welding. They don’t want to deal with harassment or listen to “locker room talk” from their colleagues.
Fortunately, there are several programs out there that are attempting to close the gender gap in welding. One example is Women Who Weld, a non-profit in Michigan that trains women in welding technology and helps them find jobs in the field.
Even welding technology programs that aren’t exclusively for women are also encouraging more women to apply and enroll.
Why Women Should Consider a Modern Welding Career
There are many reasons why more women should pursue a career in welding. For one thing, the profession offers some flexibility in terms of scheduling. Many factories are in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A woman who’s a night owl might be able to easily find a late-night job, while an early bird might be able to find an early morning shift. Weekend work is also often available.
Welding is also a relatively good-paying career. The median salary, $44,190 as of 2020, is above the median for all occupations 1. Many jobs also offer overtime hours, which pay time and a half.
The career can also be creatively satisfying, as it allows a woman to work with her hands and build things. Some jobs, such as lamp or furniture building, are more creative than others, but all welding jobs offer the satisfaction of work well done.
What Happens in a Welding Training Program?
If a career as a welder sounds intriguing to you, the first step to take is to find a welding program to earn a welding degree or certificate. You’ll learn how to read blueprints, follow a welding diagram, and read shop drawings in a welding technology program. The program might focus on a specific welding process, such as Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Gas Metal Arc Welding, or Gas Shielded Flux Core Arc Welding.
The length of the program can vary based on the credential you earn at the end of it. The welding technology career certificate program at Orange Technical College takes 1,050 hours or about 11 months full-time. To complete the advanced certificate program, you need 750 hours or about eight months of full-time study. Our skills-based training programs for entry-level welding careers require 144 hours.
Our welding technology and advanced welding career certificate programs are available at our Mid-Florida Campus. We also offer welding technology training at our Westside campus and skill-based welding assistant programs there. To get started on your welding career, request more information today.
- Welders, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm#tab-6
- Female welders torch glass ceiling in male-dominated field, NBCNews, May 17, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/female-welders-torch-glass-ceiling-male-dominated-field-n1264212