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Take a look around you and you’ll see the work of welders.

From furniture to cars, bridges to fencing…most items we take for granted would never exist if it weren’t for the work of dedicated and experienced welders.

Because welding is a high demand skill, certified pros can expect potentially better job security and salary. And, the better you become at welding, the more money you can likely earn. Particularly if you start managing other welders under you.

But, with so many other candidates vying for the same positions, how can you ensure you are the absolute best candidate for the job? You’ll definitely want to become certified as a welder.

But not any old certification will do. It’s important that you get the very best training.

Below, we’ve created a list of our best schools for welders.  Read more about what we look for and our methodology below…but without further ado:

Here’s the list of Best Certification Schools and Classes:

Top Pick

Key Highlights

  • 100% Online
  • Hands-On Externship Included
  • Lowest Price
  • Fastest Completion
  • Accredited University
  • Free Laptop

If your goal is to have a career as a welder, choosing Preppy might be the best career choice for you.

Preppy is an innovative education platform that has recently partnered with renowned Auburn University to offer students exceptional certification training. There is just so much we like about this program.

For starters, the welding course can be completed in as little as 3-6 months.

Imagine the money you’ll save not having to spend 4 years in school earning your degree!

In addition to being the fastest program on this list, it is also the most affordable option. And in many cases, by a long shot!

Yet despite being incredibly affordable for most people, Preppy still offers students a monthly payment plan because they truly want to make education affordable for everyone.

Preppy’s welding program is also offered 100% online. This makes it incredibly easy for working adults with families to learn when is most convenient for them.

Many typical programs require some or all classroom hours. This just isn’t feasible for most people.

Now you may be wondering; how you can learn welding completely online?

That’s where their innovation comes in.

First, it starts with online simulators and training to make sure you know everything you need…THEN, Preppy places you in an externship for real-world hands on experience and training.

In other words, they felt current campus programs have it all backwards.  Why jump into in -person training before you know what you need to know?

And, their 100% Online + Externship method is turning heads!

Completing Preppy’s program in just 3-6 months and you’ll be more than ready for the major certifications for welders such as:

  • AWS SENSE through the American Welding Society
  • Welding Technician, through the National Workforce Career Association (NWCA)
  • And more!

Here is something else we really appreciate about Preppy and something we encourage you to pay attention to when deciding on a welding school: many certification programs available these days are from un-accredited institutions and could lack real reputation.

When you get your training through Preppy, your instruction will be provided by Auburn University, a world-class institution known for offering top-notch programs.

This will look great on your resume and help you stand out from other job candidates!

OK, you’ve noticed we’re big fans of Preppy…I won’t deny the obvious bias.

It’s just that over the years, we have seen so very many subpar certification programs. We are incredibly happy and relieved to see Preppy is finally available!

Few other quick facts: all textbooks and learning materials are included (this means you never have to worry hidden tuition costs), and Preppy even throws in a free laptop! This is absolutely unheard of in the industry and just one of the many reasons to be so impressed with this program!

We can’t talk enough about Preppy’s online program. It’s affordable, flexible, and from a trusted, accredited institution.

Tidewater Community College

Key Highlights

  • Accredited School
  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Good Support
  • High Tuition Cost
  • No Online Classes
  • Longer Time to Completion

Tidewater Community College has been providing educational programs to students for 50 years. Founded in 1968, Tidewater is part of the greater Virginia Community College System and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The school’s welding program helps students gain an understanding of fabrication and welding repair techniques.

We like the fact that the school is accredited and that the curriculum is very thorough.

We do have some concerns, however. To start, the cost of this program is quite high compared to other schools on this list.

It will also take you longer to complete this program, and that is most likely because classes are not online but in a classroom setting. We feel most working adults are going to be drawn to those programs that are offered online.

Online learning cuts cost and duration significantly.

Universal Technical Institute

JWut89LA at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Key Highlights

  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Accredited School
  • Good Support
  • Higher Tuition Fees
  • No Online Classes
  • Longer Time to Completion

Universal Technical Institute has been providing technical training for automotive, diesel, and welding technology for 55 years. UTI is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

UTI’s welding program instructs students on the procedures and equipment required to weld using gas metal arc (GMAW), shielded metal arc (SMAW), flux-cored arc (FCAW) and gas tungsten arc (GTAW) welders. The course is very thorough and prepares students to take the certification exam. We also like that the school is accredited.

Some red flags for us: Similar to the previous school, all learning takes place in the classroom. This is not only inconvenient for most working adults with families, but it also extends the duration of the program while also increasing the cost. There are other schools on this list that offer online learning for a fraction of the price and time duration.

Cerro Coso Community College

Key Highlights

  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Accredited School
  • Good Support
  • Very High Tuition
  • No Online Classes
  • No Externship

Cerro Coso Community College has been providing educational opportunities for students since 1973. The school is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

CCCC does offer a welding program that instructs individuals in the multiple welding processes. Students will also be prepared to take the certification exam and find entry-level work in the field.

We appreciate that the school is accredited and has a solid curriculum. Having said that, tuition is incredibly expensive, almost 8x as much as others on this list! Classes are in-person only and there is no externship that is included.

Lincoln Tech

Key Highlights

  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Textbooks Included
  • Good Support
  • No Online Classes
  • Higher Tuition
  • School Not Accredited

Lincoln Tech has been in the business of career training for 75 years. The school offers three different welding programs, two of which have additional training in either pipefitting or metal fabrication.

No matter which program you choose, you will learn the three most-used welding processes of Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), MIG (Metal, Inert Gas) or GMAW (Gas, Metal Arc Welding), and TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding.

The program is in-depth and we like that students are fully prepared to take the certification exam upon completion. We also appreciate that all learning materials are included.

Some things we don’t like: Classes are not online, and again, this means you are looking at paying far more than necessary and spending far longer than necessary to complete training. The school is not accredited and there are very limited locations.

Center for Employment Training

Key Highlights

  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Accredited School
  • Good Support
  • Highest Tuition ($14,000)
  • Longer Time to Complete
  • No Online Classes

CET has offered job training for over 50 years. Their goal is to provide students with marketable skills training and supportive services that help them gain employment. CET is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.

The school offers a welding program that fully prepares students to take the certification exam. We like how solid the curriculum is and that the school is accredited.

We must say, we do have an issue with the price of this program. Coming in at $14,000, this is significantly higher than some of the schools on this list.

The program also takes quite a bit longer to complete because it is not an online self-paced program. All-in-all, we feel there are better options on this list.

What Makes a Good School for Welders?

If you’re wondering how much welders earn, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that in 2021, welders earned a median salary of $45,190 per year.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the more skilled you become, the greater income you’ll make!

If the idea of a career as a welder is becoming appealing to you, then you’ll definitely want to be sure you choose the right training program. So now you may be wondering what made us choose the schools we did.

It’s simple, really. They offered one or more of the following:

Online Classes

Online learning has become wildly popular with adult students because it allows them to learn when and where is most convenient for them. When you have a job and maybe even family responsibilities, it’s simply not feasible to move out of state to go to school. For many working adults with family responsibilities, it’s not even practical to try and attend night or weekend classes at a local community college.

Online classes mean you can keep working, learn in your own home at whatever hour, and never have to miss a softball game or swimming meet. It’s just a better school/work/life balance.

A Thorough Curriculum

Online classes are great, but only if the training is top-notch. We chose schools that will fully prepare students for the major welding certifications, in this case Certified Welder (CW) and Certified Resistance Welding Technician (CRWT) through the American Welding Society.

Self-Paced Coursework

Think back to the last time you were in school. You probably remember how all of the student learned at their own pace. Some had lightbulb moments pretty quickly, while others took a bit longer to understand the new information. No two students learn at the same pace.

We prefer schools that offer online classes because they allow you to work your way through the course material at a pace that suits your learning style.

Not every welding program offers online training, but we feel it’s really key and strongly suggest you focus on the schools on this list that do offer online curriculums.

Textbooks are Included

Have you seen the price of textbooks lately? You almost need to take out student loans just to be able to afford them. We always look for schools that include textbooks and all learning materials in the cost of the program so you don’t get any nasty financial surprises.

An Immersive Learning Experience

Learning should be fun. The more engaged a student is, the more likely they will retain new information. We always look for schools that have instructors that want to share their knowledge and passion for their chosen field.

Great Support

Whether you’re learning in-person or online, you want a program that offers students the best support. The schools we have selected all have robust support to ensure you get the help you need when you need it.


Getting certified in welding is one of the best ways of standing out to prospective employers. Another way to ensure your resume gets attention is by getting some hands-on experience before you hit the job market.

But how do you do that? Through an externship. An externship allows a student to take all of the knowledge they gain and apply it in a real-world scenario.

The Importance of Welding Training

According to the American Welding Society, the occupation will experience a shortage of about 200,000 welders by the year 2025. This means there will be an increasing demand for new welders in the coming years.

In fact, the BLS data suggests employment growth for welders will reach 8%, which is more than all other occupations.

When you complete your training and become a certified welder, you begin an exciting and lucrative career you can feel really good about.

Our Methodology

I’ve just covered a lot of information so let’s do a brief recap:

Before putting this article together, my research team and I sat down and read through a lot of data to come to the conclusions we did. It took quite a few days to come up with this specific list because there are so many schools now that are offering welding certification programs. But I can say with 100% certainty that not all of these programs were created equal.

In order to make the cut for this list, a school had to have one or more of the following (and obviously the more the better!):

  • Online programs
  • Comprehensive preparation for certification exams
  • Self-paced learning
  • Textbooks and other learning materials included in the cost
  • Instructor led
  • Support
  • Externships to gain valuable experience

If you’re interested in a career as a welder, you could become certified and begin working in as little as 3-6 months by completing training through one of these fantastic schools! What a great opportunity to work in an exciting industry!

About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.