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Going to Welding School

Going to Welding School

Going to Welding School

I have decided that I simply don't have a good "feel" for welded connection design. I have a confident feel for timber connections, bolted steel connections and the like, but only because I have a lot of years' worth of actually nailing and bolting things together.

Hence, I took it upon myself to investigate the local welding school (Apex Tech, in New York City, where I work). They have an intense, 600-hour course (Tues-Thurs, 6 pm - 10 pm) from which one graduates as a certified welder. The cost is a bit steep ($11,000) but I may be able to swing some sort of assistance from my employer. I'm taking a tour of the school this week.

Frankly, six months of night school will probably do more emotional harm to me than good, though it would definitley be a lot of fun. I don't, however, see the immediate value-added of me being a certified welder in addition to a P.E.

Thoughts, anyone? Also, does anyone know of "short courses" that are more of an introductory nature to the subject? Thanks in advance!

RE: Going to Welding School

Community colleges often run welding courses at quite a reasonable cost. However, they're mostly aimed at people doing general maintenance, or homeowners who want to build their own utility trailers, etc. You won't become a professional welder, but it might be a good way to get your feet wet.

Having done some welding (nobody who's seen my work would EVER call me a welder) and learned to ride a bike when I was a kid, I can tell you the learning process is very similar. You can read books about how to do it until you drop, but the only way to learn to do either is to actually, physically practice. If nothing else, your course will give you an appreciation for good welders. They make it LOOK easy, but trust me, it's not. Particularly in spots where a right handed welder has to hang by his heels and make the weld with his left hand, because that's the only way to reach the job.

RE: Going to Welding School

DaveViking,  That is something I've always wished to do as well!  However, with the cost/duration that you've mentioned I don't think I would jump on that bandwagon so quick.  I would've suspected it to be a little cheaper really.

I don't see much of a benefit unless you are immersed in welded connections and field inspection of the same.  But thats never stopped me before!

I can only offer, as an alternative, the Lincoln Welding Seminar which is put on by several folks and I think that Blodgett is still involved in this as well.  Blodgett was the author of a industry staple on welded connections.

I hope others post with similar experiences and seminars.  Come on guys/gals!

RE: Going to Welding School

My personal opinion(I was a certified welder)---The idea of learning to weld is good.  If you are going to make decisions involving welding, you should know how to weld.  At least the theory and applications.  As to becoming a certified welder, with all the attendant licensing and renewal requirements,  I do not think it's necessary.

>If you cannot get a "feel" for welding in less that 600 hours, perhaps you should consider sticking to wood.

> $11,000 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Man, what kind of school is this?


RE: Going to Welding School


-Excellent! I've looked into the Lincoln seminars, especially Blodgett's. I've immersed myself in his book "Design of Weldments" (a $10 book - from Lincoln - that should be a required text for any Strength of Materials course) and that's what got me into identifying what I consider a weakness in my design abilities.

I've bookmarked Lincoln's site, http://www.lincolnelectric.com/, and check it every now and then. I think, though, I'm going to look into what the local community colleges have to offer. I'm taking a tour of the abovementioned school this week, and I will report back...

RE: Going to Welding School

A second thought---Get in touch with an Ironworker local union Business Agent and explain to him your needs as an engineer.  It is just possible they will accomodate you for free.


RE: Going to Welding School


   ASM International has 4 courses that deal with various aspects of welding.  Some are self study and cost as little as $375.00, others are 3 day intensive courses that cost around $2k.  Anyway, a listing of the courses can be found at:


you'll have to paste the link back together in your web browser for it to work.  It looked like they didn't have any course dates currently scheduled, I think because they schedule courses a year in advance and this year's courses have already run.  I would guess they will come out with a schedule of next year's courses sometime next month...you can always give them a ring and ask for details.


RE: Going to Welding School

TWI (The Welding Institute) in the good old UK has published a whole series of articles  titled "Job Knowledge for Welders - X" where X is the subject of the article. Most articles have been transcribed onto the website (www.twi.co.uk); go to the site and search on "Job knowledge for welders" + your subject. The articles are written by welding experts and are aimed to give practicle advice on welding. This will not give you the practical experience though. For this try contacting the Edison Welding Institute in Columbus Ohio (www.ewi.org) who may run or know of training courses.


RE: Going to Welding School

The American welding Society www.aws.org offers online courses via the Welding Academy http://www.vellis.com/weld_academy/

Consider joing AWS or atleast attend several of the local chapter meeting.

To many times I see items designed by PE without proper design of the weldment. A course in welding-processes-design should be required in the under-grad engineering program.

Rather than spend $11K on a 600 hr course buy some welding equipment and start there. A small mig unit such as the Lincoln SP125+ , a good small mig/fcaw machine, and a small Inverter Power GTAW/SMAW unit can both be purchased for $1500. You end up with a welding machine, knowing how to weld and still have money in your pocket.  One problem, neighbors will be bringing items over for you to weld as soon as they know you have a welding machine.

RE: Going to Welding School

I went to an "open house" at Apex Technical School in Manhattan, NYC on Tuesday...

Well, the school is eight floors of the cleanest school I've ever seen! They have an AMAZING program in HVAC, Automotive and Welding.

However, the school is for folks who want full-time careers as welders and while it would be a lot of fun, they only take 20 students per class (classes start every two months, lasting 9 months) and I'd be taking the spot of someone who needs a job. At any rate, the Vice-President of the school gave a tour/lecture and impressed me as someone with a lot of knowledge (20+ years with Crysler) and someone who genuinely was interested in helping folks get into good careers.

The welding labs had individual stations, looked like there was a lot of class work and text reading, etc. The welding graduate comes out AWS certified (the AWS exam is part of the program).

RE: Going to Welding School

I work for the TWI in the UK and they run courses on welding and associated joining technology. You may find something useful at our web site. www.twi.co.uk.

RE: Going to Welding School

I wouldn't recommend Apex Tech at all. I went there five years ago. It is a major ripoff, I could have learned everything of value I got from there on the job. You don't get "certified" at the end of the course, you get a little AWS ticket whose value is exactly nil. A person with no welding experience will be unlikely to pass the New York DOB test at the end of the Apex course. I have heard great things about Hobart Institute of Welding. One of my Apex instructors was always telling us we were wasting our time there at Apex and should get out to Hobart. Really, Apex is preparing people to work in sweatshops welding dumpsters together.

RE: Going to Welding School

Many high schools offer adult night classes and the cost for a welding class for 6 weeks, 2 or 3 nights a week is $50.00. Usually the instructors are knowledgable enough to provide a good knoowledge of the basics and sommetimes you come across some that are very skilled and knowledgable.

I don't think there is any need for a welding engineer to know how to weld as long as you know how to engineer. The only advantage I can see is that it sometimes help you undertand the problems a welder may be having making a difficult weld.

It does help those few times when a welder with a high ego/skill ratio tells me as an inspector "Here you weld it and show mne what it's supposed to look like". But it doesn't improve my abilities as an inspector. Just shows my skill as a welder.

For your price shown above you could buy a welding machine and a ton of scrap and hire someone to come show you how to weld.

Gerald Austin
Iuka, Mississippi

RE: Going to Welding School

Following that line of thought---Why would you need ANY experience to design anything?  Why, shoot, it's all right there in the book!

Could it be that with a little hands on experience it will be an easier, faster, safer and, more profitable venture,  less likely to be sent back to the "engineer" for revisions time after time?


RE: Going to Welding School

Is it necessary to have a degree to calculate the required effective throat of a fillet weld in shear or to explain the relationship between joint restraint, preheat, number of passes, and heat transfer paths to residual stress/cracking tendancies in high strength low allow steel.

 No, but to get anybody to believe you know what your talking about, It sure helps.

Gerald Austin
Iuka, Mississippi

RE: Going to Welding School

Time for my 2 cents.  Should you take a "welding course" - absolutely.  Should you take a 600 hour/$11,000 welding course - are you nuts??!!!  My employer has a welding school and I am in charge of handling the welding approvals paperwork, so I signed up for night school.  Took 50 hours; I'm 300% better welder than what I learned in high school shop in 1970, but nowhere near a "code welder".  Definitely helps me spot the gross mistakes in submitted procedures and avoid wasting the valuable time of the company's welding engineers.

RE: Going to Welding School

It depends what type of engineer you are.

In Canada, STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS (like myself) need to know how to size welds and design weldable weldments.  I have become decent at this by studying welding codes (AWS, CSA, etc), reading Blodgett texts (amazing reference)and by talking to certified welders and foremen who HAVE taken welding courses.  It seems to be enough.

If you are a WELDING ENGINEER who actually prepares welding procedures incl preheat, current, No of passes, etc, it probably makes sense to actually know how to weld.

That's my 1.33 cents ($US) which is approx 2 cents $CAN)

RE: Going to Welding School

The next best thing to welding yourself is to work side-by-side with ironworkers.  I've debated the same questions that you are considering, but have since had the opportunity to work side by side with experienced ironworkers.  One in particular was so touched that a structural engineer was asking him questions that we formed a relationship that may last long after we stop working together.  We ended up trading a lot of information, technical and otherwise, back and forth.

I ultimately found that to be rewarding and educational enough to satisfy my needs.  I now think that the welding is best left to the experts.  And my new friend thinks the engineering is best left to us.

Jim Wilson

RE: Going to Welding School

A few years ago in the 80's I remember welding in the field and learning the differences in AC vrs. DC welding.

One day in the late 90's I was eating lunch with an Ironworker in Seattle and in our casual discussion of the days work I discovered I was sitting by a man who had helped to weld the lunar space buggy's frame together at Boeing when I was just a wee lad.

Another time in the early 90's we were welding jumbo column splice welds I marveled at using a company that used thermocouplers to warm-down these thick weldments over a 24-hour period.

Recently in the new millenium I had to figure out the best weldment material for the job which was welding 84-inch diameter pipe and man did I learn a lot.  

Don't forget about experience as a good teacher!

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