Learning how to weld is a valuable skill that can lead to many different types of careers – not just welding or fabricating in a shop. In fact, there are many professional roles where understanding welding theory and having hands-on experience can be very beneficial.
If you already know how to weld but want a career that offers you unique opportunities, different challenges or more money, then you can add to your skills by going to college for a four-year degree related to the welding field.
Benefits of combining your welding experience with a 4-year degree
Greater income potential. In general, having a college degree pays off with a higher salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for a worker with a bachelor’s degree is $1,173, compared to $712 for a worker with a high school diploma and no college experience.
More career options. With a bachelor’s degree on your resume, you may qualify for technical or professional career paths that don’t involve hands-on welding or fabrication. Even if a degree isn’t required for a job, having one can help you stand out during the interviewing process.
Better long-term flexibility. A bachelor’s degree can also give you more flexibility for long-term career opportunities. As they get older, many experienced welders look to turn in their torch for higher-level positions such as supervisor, management, sales and more. Even if you want to weld or fabricate early in your career, a bachelor’s degree can be valuable to have later on.
College degrees to consider
There are many four-year college degrees that can complement your welding skills to take your career to the next level.
Welding engineering – Become an expert in the science of welding. Welding engineers oversee many aspects of a project and have a national median salary of $85,000
Business – Learn the business principles necessary for a career track in management, sales or starting your own business.
Metallurgy or chemistry – Understanding the properties of metals can lead to a career in welding research, where you can develop and test new processes and technologies.
Education – Teaching welding to others is very different than doing the job yourself. With a degree in education, you will have the skills and tools needed to effectively teach new welding students.
Fine arts – Many welders turn their artistic abilities into successful careers. A program in the fine arts will introduce you to different materials and metalworking processes that you can incorporate into your artwork.
Taking a working gap year
If you’re not 100% sure what you want to do yet or you need to save some money before starting college, you can consider taking a gap year. When some people hear this term, they think of backpacking through Europe. As fun as that sounds, it’s also expensive and doesn’t move you any closer to your education or career choice.
A more productive version of a gap year is to gain some relevant work experience to build your skills and to refine your long-term goals. In welding, that could mean finding a job that allows you to work alongside experienced welders, improve your skills and learn about new processes. These real-world, hands-on experiences can be very valuable in whichever direction you take your career in the welding field.
Being a welder can help you start a career and gives you valuable skills that will always be needed. If your long-term career goal is to reach a certain position or make more money, then earning a four-year degree can be a wise investment in your future.
This article originally appeared on WeldingDigest.com