A welding career allows you to use analytical skills and manual dexterity to build things. It is an ideal choice if you like to work with your hands and have each workday be slightly different.
California is an excellent state to begin a welding career. There are plenty of job opportunities with growth expected to continue, and wages are among some of the best in the country. Every state has a unique set of training requirements for certification. Below you will find everything you need to know about possible career opportunities, licensing, major employers, and top welding schools in California.
What Does a Welder Do?
Welders work joining various metals together to build things. They also study blueprints and drawings, inspect metal components, and make repairs as needed. Many welders work in the energy, transportation, or construction industries in California. In these roles, welders may need to work assembling major equipment and on infrastructure projects.
Welding Schools Near Me in California
To pass certification exams to become a welder in California, you must have a solid understanding of the principles of welding, metallurgy, and construction math. These subjects can be studied in comprehensive detail at one of the many welding schools in California.
These are a few of the most popular accredited welding schools in California:
Focusing solely on training welders, Cal-Trade Welding School instructors have industry experience. Job placement assistance is available, and all graduates are provided a list of current vacancies.
- Location: Modesto
- Phone number: (209) 523-0753
- Programs: Structural, MIG/TIG, Combination Welding
- Program duration: nine to 18 weeks
- Average cost: $7,000 – $13,000
Students can take advantage of industry networking and conference opportunities while enrolled in the welding programs at El Camino College. In addition, financial aid, internships, and job placement assistance are available.
- Location: Torrance
- Phone number: (310) 532-3670
- Programs: Welding AS, Certificate of Achievement in Welding, GTAW Ferrous and Non-Ferrous, Semi-Automatic Welding, SMAW Structural Steel, and Structural Steel Fabrication
- Program duration: one to three years
- Average cost: $1,500 to $3,000
LATTC community college offers two comprehensive welding programs. Choose a certificate for industry-focused training only or add general education requirements for an AS degree. Financial assistance is available to qualified students.
- Location: Los Angeles
- Phone number: (213) 763-3700
- Programs: AS and Certificate of Achievement in Welding Gas and Electric
- Program duration: 18 months to two years
- Average cost: $1,300 to $1,500 per year
Summit College offers career placement assistance to help you find a job after graduation.
- Location: San Bernardino, El Cajon, Santa Ana
- Phone number: (888) 504-2552
- Programs: Basic welding career training
- Program duration: nine months
- Average cost: $17,495.00
Welding Career Opportunities in California
Many welding careers in California are found within a few sectors, including energy, transportation, and construction. Some common examples of positions available throughout the state include Welder-Fitter, TIG Welder, and MIG Welder.
How Much Do Welders Make in California?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that welders in California earn an average of $25.22 per hour or $52,460 per year. This is higher than their reported average for the U.S., $47,010. However, according to Indeed, the average reported salary for welders in California is slightly lower at $21.46 per hour, which is still 8 percent higher than the national average.
Major Employers of Welders in California
There are many opportunities for welding careers in California. According to Indeed, the top five employers for welders in the state are:
- Siemens: Energy and utilities, welder salaries ranging from $21 to $29 per hour
- Waste Management: Energy, mining, and utilities, average welder salary $35,646 per year
- Total-Western: Construction, welder salaries ranging from $32 to $45 per hour
- TRENCH SHORING COMPANY: Commercial equipment services, average welder salary $20.00 per hour
- Kleinfelder: Construction, repair, and maintenance services, average welder salary $56,742 per year
How To Become a Certified Welder in California
You must obtain state-level certification before working as a welder in California. This is done through the State Contractors Licensing Board. You may also need certifications at the local level.
The most common path for certification is to complete high school and then attend a training program at one of the welding schools in California. Programs range in length from a few months to multiple years, depending on what topics and techniques they cover. After (or sometimes during) training, you will need to gain at least six months of work experience at the apprentice level.
While not required, many welders choose to get certifications from the American Welding Society or the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. These industry credentials are increasingly in demand by employers and may allow you to advance your welding career further.
Do You Need a License to be a Welder in California?
The Contractors State License Board must license anyone wishing to work independently as a welder in California. To do this, you must:
- Pass the required state examinations
- Submit an application to the licensing board
- Pay any required fees
- Certify related work experience
- Submit fingerprints for a background check
Basic requirements for contractors in the state included being at least 18 years of age, passing business and law and subject exams, and meeting experience requirements for each license level. Some cities or counties may impose additional licensing requirements, so you should always check with local licensing agencies before beginning work in a new area.
You may also choose to add a welder classification to a California general contractor license. For more information about that process, visit our California contractor licensing guide.
California Welding FAQs
The steps for how to become a welder in California can be confusing. The following FAQ aims to provide some clarity.
1. How Long Does It Take to Become a Welder?
It can take as little as one year to become a certified welder in California. That estimate includes an accelerated training program, exam preparation, an apprenticeship, and application processing times. However, for many people, especially those choosing to pursue a more extended training program at one of the welding schools in California, it can take up to three years. Additionally, if you are going to pursue a state welding contractor license, you must have four years of experience working in the field.
2. Does a Welder Need Insurance in California?
Licensed contractors in California, including welders, must meet minimum bond and insurance requirements, including a $15,000 bond and $1 million liability coverage.
Additional insurance to cover tools and equipment is recommended since they are highly specialized and expensive to replace if lost, damaged, or stolen. However, additional policies are not required.
You can easily request a free commercial insurance quote from our partners using the tool below.
3. Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?
There are many resources you can utilize if you still have questions about how to become a welder in California. For example, you can direct licensing questions to the Contractors State License Board at (800) 321-CSLB. It is usually best to contact individual welding schools in California with questions about specific training programs, admissions requirements, or costs.
If you have general questions about welding careers in California, it may be helpful to contact local unions or trade associations. A few that can help you uncover how to become a welder in California include:
- The American Welding Society, (800) 443-9353
- The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, (800) 843-2763
- Local 62 Plumbers and Steamfitters Union, (831) 633-6091
For More License and Career Guides
To find out how to become a Welder in another state, start here.
For information on other trades in California, click on a link below to learn more about the licensing requirements: