The cost of welding school is often much more reasonable than mainstream colleges. It is very important to attend a quality welding school though as I discussed in “Tips For Choosing a Quality Welding School.” The reason is that you actually have to have the skills to perform the job, simply having a degree or certificate will not be enough for you to stay employed very long. If you are looking for welding school to attend in your state you will find my national directory of welding schools very helpful.
Welding Schools Cost and Tuition Rates
There are basically three types of welding schools and/or welding programs out there and they all have different costs associated with them.
- Top Welding Schools – There are three welding schools in the US that are considered to be the cream of the crop. I actually wrote an article about the top welding schools.
- Community Colleges – Each community college can vary significantly in what they offer. Some of them offer Associate Degree programs in welding, certificates and/or basic welding training.
- Trade Schools – Most trade schools will offer a welding program. Some are Associate Degree programs while others are a certificate program.
It is also important to keep in mind that the cost of a welding school will be different depending on what welding program you choose. Some schools may offer a pipe welding only course or a TIG welding course/program. I recommend attending a combination welding program, this means that they will teach you how to weld with all the common types of welding on pipe and plate.
In this article I will only use the costs of a combination welding program for comparison purposes.
Top Welding School Costs
- Lincoln Electric Welding School – 15 weeks long and costs $6,670.
- Hobart Institute of Welding Technology – 38 weeks long and costs $16,190
- Tulsa Welding School – 40 weeks long and costs about $20,000
*All costs and tuition is based on rates in 2016
As you can see from the cost breakdown Hobart takes first place in cost/tuition. I would not solely base my decision on cost though. It is most important to get solid training and all of these schools can offer this.
Community college welding school cost
There are community colleges that offer excellent welding programs for a decent price tag. With that being said there are other colleges that have welding programs that do not offer the training that a career minded individual needs. Please be very cautious when looking at their welding programs to unsure that you are getting what you need to become a skilled welder.
Many community college welding programs are about 15 months in length. Often times you will earn an Associate’s Degree when you graduate. The average cost of community college welding school is between $10,000 and $18,000 dollars for an Associate’s Degree program. Tuition rates vary greatly in different states.
If the community college offers a certificate or diploma welding program then the cost is often much lower but the program is also shorter. The average cost of a community college welding program that offers a certificate or diploma is between $5,000 and $10,000.
These costs are not set in stone and the best thing that you can is to compare all of the welding schools within your state or local area.
Trade school, technical and dedicated welding school cost
When searching for a welding school you will most likely find a number of trade and technical schools. You may also run into a couple of dedicated welding schools, meaning the only thing they offer is welding training. Most of these schools will offer excellent welding programs but at a somewhat hire cost.
The cost of attending a trade or technical school that offers a welding program can range anywhere between $12,000 and $17,000 depending on your location and the length of the welding program they offer.
Some technical and trade schools offer an Associate’s Degree welding program while others do not. It is important to keep in mind that a degree is not a must for a professional welder to have but can come in handy at times.
Other costs associated with attending welding school
There are several other costs associated with welding school.
Welding tools and PPE
Many schools will require you to purchase your own tools, the average cost for this is about $300 to $400 dollars. Tools that you may need to purchase include the following.
- Slag Hammer
- Ball Peen Hammer
- Wire Brush
- Wrap Around
- MIG Pliers
- Tape Measure
You will also need to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes the following.
- Welding Hood
- Cutting Goggles/Glasses
- Welding Gloves
- TIG Welding Gloves
- Welding Jacket
- Hard Had (depends on school)
- Safety Glasses
My advice is to buy good tools since you will be using these tools for many years to come.
Welding school fees
Here are a few hidden costs other than tuition that you may or may not have to pay for.
- Nearly every school if not all charge a “application fee.” The average cost of this is about $125.
- If your school offers in house welding certification testing you may or may not have to pay that fee. Some welding schools and colleges include this in the tuition cost and others don’t. If you have the opportunity to take a certification test I highly suggest that you do it!!! The average testing fee is around $350 to $550 per test.
- Housing, food and personal needs. This may be obvious but if you are moving in order to go to school it is something to keep in mind.
- Some welding schools include books in their tuition costs and others don’t. If you need to buy books I suggest you look for them used on Amazon. The average cost for books is about $300.
A few thing to keep in mind
Remember that welding takes practice, lots of it! The more time you get in a welding both the better of you will be. I would shy away from programs that say you they will train you in 2 months. This is just not enough time to really grasp all of different types of welding and welding positions. You also need other skills like pipefitting, blueprint reading and confined space welding.
My opinion is that it takes at least six months to learn what you need to know. I would prefer to see a welding program that is 7 to 12 months though.