How Long is Welding School?

The duration of welding school can vary depending on the specific program and the level of training you are pursuing. Welding programs are available at various institutions, including vocational schools, community colleges, and trade schools.

The short answer: It depends on the program type. We’ll break down the different paths of welding education in greater detail, but here is a quick summary of welding program lengths:

Program TypeDuration
Short-Term Programs4 – 12 Weeks
Certificate Programs6 Months – 1 Year
Associate of Applied Science (AAS)2 Years
Apprenticeships3 – 5 Years

Short-Term Programs

Short-term welding programs provide a quick and efficient route for individuals eager to grasp essential skills. Designed to offer a focused and expedited introduction to welding, these programs are an appealing option for those looking to enter any welding profession as quickly as possible.

Short-term programs typically last anywhere from 4 -12 weeks and prioritize learning specific welding skills in-depth but as efficiency as possible, mostly through hands-on learning.

Short-term programs can also vary significantly in class format. Some include continuing education programs for those in need of refining a specific welding skill, while others are designed for amateurs with no welding experience and are not designed to provide employable education or skills.

Short-term programs may also not meet eligibility requirements for certain welding certifications, which many employers require for specific job roles.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in welding offer a more in-depth educational experience. These programs are designed for individuals seeking a thorough understanding of welding techniques and processes, usually with the goal of achieving industry-recognized certifications.

The length of welding certificate programs is typically six months to a year. This moderate investment in time allows for a more thorough exploration of welding skills and principles.

Types of Welding Certifications

In a welding certificate program, students prepare to meet the requirements of one or more of these welding certifications:

  1. WS Certified Welder (CW): Offered by the American Welding Society (AWS), this certification is one of the most widely recognized in the industry. It includes various categories such as D1.1 (structural steel), D1.5 (bridge welding), and D9.1 (sheet metal welding).
  2. AWS Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): This certification is for individuals who inspect and assess welding work. It involves a comprehensive examination covering welding processes, codes, standards, and practical inspection skills.
  3. ASME Welding Certifications: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) provides various certifications for welders involved in pressure vessel and boiler fabrication. Examples include the ASME Section IX certification for welding procedures and performance qualifications.
  4. API Welding Certifications: The American Petroleum Institute (API) offers certifications for welders involved in the oil and gas industry. The API 1104 certification, for example, is focused on welding pipelines.
  5. ISO 9606 Welder Qualification: This international standard outlines the requirements for the qualification testing of welders. ISO 9606 certifications are recognized globally and cover various materials and welding processes.
  6. NAVSEA Welding Certification: The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) provides certifications for welders working on naval projects. NAVSEA certifications are often required for welding on ships and maritime structures.
  7. NACE Coating Inspector Certification: The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) provides certifications for coating inspectors, which may be relevant for welders involved in corrosion protection and coatings.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree Programs

For those seeking a more extensive and academically grounded exploration of welding, Associate of Applied Science (AAS) welding programs blend theoretical knowledge with hands-on training to prepare individuals for a broader range of opportunities within the welding profession.

Associate degree programs last two years, providing students with an in-depth and well-rounded education in welding processes, metallurgy, business subjects, and other industry relevant knowledge. AAS programs can prepare students for more complex tasks and leadership roles within the industry.

Graduates are well-positioned for roles requiring a higher level of expertise, such as welding engineering technology, inspection, or project management.

While not every welding job requires an associate degree, completing such a program often provides eligibility for more industry-recognized certifications than what may be offered in a certificate program. If you are at the early stages of your professional career and want to change roles in the welding industry down the road, an associates degree may provide more room for growth.


Apprenticeships are a unique but traditional approach to mastering the art of welding. Combining practical experience with structured classroom learning, apprenticeships provide a unique learning environment where aspiring welders can refine their skills under the guidance of seasoned professionals.

Unlike traditional academic timelines, the duration of apprenticeships is variable and often depends on the complexity of the welding trade. Apprenticeships usually last a minimum of 3 years but can last up to 5 years. This lengthy duration allows individuals to progress at a pace that ensures mastery of both basic and advanced welding techniques.

The major pro of apprenticeships is the ability to work while you learn. Apprentices work alongside experienced welders, gaining practical experience in real-world welding projects. Apprentices also earn an income while working, which varies significantly based on the employer and type of apprenticeship.

While apprenticeships will not have a welding degree to put on their resume, they can earn industry-recognized welding certifications outlined previously. Welders completing apprenticeships demonstrate their skills and competency through practical experience, and are as reputable and hirable as any student who completes a traditional welding school.

Which is Right for Me?

Choosing the ideal welding program should be based on a few factors and considerations:

  • Career Goals: Your education should align with your long-term career objectives. Short-term programs may suit those eager for swift entry, while degrees and apprenticeships offer broader prospects.
  • Certification Needs: Consider the certifications essential for your chosen career path. Certificate programs and associate degrees often align with industry requirements, while apprenticeships lead to practical experience and certifications.
  • Learning Style: Evaluate your preferred learning style. Whether it’s hands-on training, academic depth, or a combination of both, select the program that resonates with your learning preferences.

The duration of welding school is not a one-size-fits-all metric. It’s a spectrum of opportunities, each offering its unique benefits. As you start applying to welding programs, think about your goals, preferences, and the skills you aim to acquire.