Trade Profile - Welder
What does it take to be a welder?
Over the next ten years, it is estimated that over 261,100 tradespeople will retire in Canada, while only 221,300 will enter the field, resulting in a significant loss of skilled workers. In addition, due to the aging population, the overall number of people who are considered to be in their working prime (age 25-54) is expected to decline. These factors will make it increasingly difficult to replenish the retiring workforce.
In response to the anticipated shortage of skilled apprentices, the construction industry has developed several initiatives, opportunities, and grants to encourage youth, women, the indigenous population, and other groups to consider a career in the skilled trades. Alongside various partners, CLAC has become increasingly involved in promoting the skilled trades as a rewarding career option, while simultaneously looking for new ways to support industry and workers alike.
Over the next year, we will share a variety of trades-related blogs here on Your Voice. We will highlight in-demand trades by providing you with a snap shot of their education requirements, average salary, and employment outlook.
This month’s highlighted trade is welder.
One of the more commonly recognized trades, welders join or sever metal in beams, vessels, piping, or other metal components; make metal parts used in construction or manufacturing plants; and weld parts, tools, machines, and equipment. Welders work in a variety of industries, including structural steel assembly, pipeline construction, commercial or industrial construction, fabrication, or heavy equipment repair.
Those looking to start a new career as a welder can expect to complete a three-year apprenticeship program including a minimum of 1,560 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training each year. To work as a welder in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice with Apprentice and Industry Training (AIT) or an Alberta-certified journeyperson. As a compulsory Red Seal trade, those looking to become a welder can follow the traditional apprenticeship pathway.
Outside of the traditional pathway, many technical training providers such as the CLAC Career Development College offer pre-employment programs for those who are looking to jump-start their career as a welder. When approved by AIT, pre-employment programs allow students to complete their first year of technical training prior to ever stepping onto the job site. Through the traditional apprenticeship pathway, your first year of training would entail the required 1,560 hours on the job, followed by eight weeks of technical training. Pre-employment programs allow you to do this backwards by providing you with 12 or more weeks of technical training, which is then supplemented by your on-the-job training. Pre-employment programs in any trade are designed to boost the confidence and productivity of first year apprentices, making them more employable to contractors.
Additionally, high school students can become apprentice welders! Through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), students are able to gain credits towards their apprenticeship training and high school diploma at the same time, all while making a paycheque. Students who are interested in joining the RAP should speak to their school’s off-campus coordinator to get started.
It is predicted by BuildForce Canada’s 2019 Construction and Maintenance Outlook report for Alberta that starting in 2020, “the availability of workers meeting employer qualifications may be limited” and that “employers may need to compete to attract the needed workers.” This trend is relatively consistent up until 2028, maintaining a steady need for skilled apprentices and journeypersons in the welder trade.
CLAC represents various contractors who employ welders. Journeyperson wages can range, on average, from $25 to $40 per hour, plus benefits. A career as a welder comes with unlimited career possibilities as they have the opportunity to advance to various supervisory positions throughout their careers, such as foreperson, supervisor, or welding inspector. Some even open their own repair shops or work with portable rig welders and contract out their services.
Interested in the skilled trades? Contact your CLAC Training Team for support in navigating the apprenticeship pathway, assistance in enrolling in technical training, and information regarding student funding.