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Career and Education Opportunities for Welders in Chattanooga, Tennessee

If you want to be a welder, the Chattanooga, Tennessee area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 9,920 jobs for welders in Tennessee and this is projected to grow 18% to 11,650 jobs by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for welders are expected to shrink by about 1.6%. Welders generally use hand-welding or flame-cutting equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.

A person working as a welder can expect to earn about $15 hourly or $32,070 annually on average in Tennessee and about $16 per hour or $33,560 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Welders earn more than people working in the category of Foundry and Metal Work generally in Tennessee and more than people in the Foundry and Metal Work category nationally.

There are two schools within twenty-five miles of Chattanooga where you can study to be a welder, among twenty schools of higher education total in the Chattanooga area. The most common level of education for welders is less than a high school diploma. It will take only a short time to learn to be a welder if you already have a high school diploma.


In general, welders use hand-welding or flame-cutting equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.

Welders bolt components to set required configurations and positions for welding. They also remove rough spots from workpieces, using portable grinders or scrapers. Equally important, welders have to chip or grind off excess weld or spatter, using hand scrapers or power chippers, portable grinders, or arc-cutting equipment. They are often called upon to weld components in flat or overhead positions. They are expected to operate safety equipment and use safe work habits. Finally, welders recognize and operate hand and power tools common to the welding trade, such as shielded metal arc and gas metal arc welding equipment.

Every day, welders are expected to be able to control objects and devices with precise control. They need to see details at a very fine level of focus. It is also important that they visualize how things come together and can be organized.

It is important for welders to ignite torches or start power supplies and strike arcs by touching electrodes to metals being welded, completing electrical circuits. They are often called upon to examine workpieces for defects and measure workpieces with straightedges or templates to insure conformance with specifications. They also ready all material surfaces to be welded, ensuring that there is no loose or thick scale, slag or other foreign matter. They are sometimes expected to monitor the fitting and welding processes to avoid overheating of components or warping or expansion of material. Somewhat less frequently, welders are also expected to operate manual or semi-automatic welding apparatus to fuse metal segments.

Welders sometimes are asked to operate metal shaping and bending machines, such as brakes and shears. And finally, they sometimes have to decide on and install torches, torch tips and flux, in line with welding chart specifications or types and thicknesses of metals.

Like many other jobs, welders must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chattanooga include:

  • Buffing Machine Operator. Set up, operate, or tend grinding and related tools that remove excess material or burrs from surfaces, sharpen edges or corners, or buff, hone, or polish metal or plastic work pieces.
  • Heat Treating Equipment Operator. Set up, operate, or tend heating equipment, such as heat-treating furnaces, flame-hardening machines, induction machines, or vacuum equipment to temper, harden, or heat-treat metal or plastic objects.
  • Layout Technician. Lay out reference points and dimensions on metal or plastic stock or workpieces, such as sheets, plates, or machine parts, for further processing. Includes shipfitters.
  • Machinist. Set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments. Includes precision instrument makers who fabricate, modify, or repair mechanical instruments. May also fabricate and modify parts to make or repair machine tools or maintain industrial machines, applying knowledge of mechanics, shop mathematics, and machining procedures.
  • Solderer. Braze or solder together components to assemble fabricated metal parts, using soldering iron, torch, or welding machine and flux.
  • Structural and Ornamental Metalwork Metal Fabricator. Fabricate, lay out, and fit parts of structural metal products.
  • Welding Operator. Set up, operate, or tend welding, soldering, or brazing machines or robots that weld, braze, or heat treat metal products, components, or assemblies.


Northwestern Technical College - Rock Spring, GA

Northwestern Technical College, 265 Bicentennial Trail, Rock Spring, GA 30739. Northwestern Technical College is a small college located in Rock Spring, Georgia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,335 students. Northwestern Technical College has a less than one year and a one to two year program in Welding Technology/Welder which graduated seventeen and five students respectively in 2008.

Dalton State College - Dalton, GA

Dalton State College, 650 College Drive, Dalton, GA 30720-3797. Dalton State College is a small college located in Dalton, Georgia. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 4,892 students. Dalton State College has a one to two year program in Welding Technology/Welder which graduated two students in 2008.


Radiographic Interpreter: The program, based upon requirements contained within AWS B5.

For more information, see the American Welding Society website.

Certified Robotic Arc Welding: The Certification Program for Robotic Arc Welding - Operators and Technicians (CRAW) allows many welding personnel employed in various welding sectors to measure themselves against standards for their occupation.

For more information, see the American Welding Society website.



Licensing agency: Gas Pipeline Safety Division
Address: Tennessee Regulatory Authority, 460 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN 37243-0505

Phone: (615) 741-3939
Website: Gas Pipeline Safety Division Tennessee Regulatory Authority

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee photo by Avala

Chattanooga is situated in Hamilton County, Tennessee. It has a population of over 170,880, which has grown by 9.9% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chattanooga, 85, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Chattanooga are priced at $141,100 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, two hundred sixty-two new homes were built in Chattanooga, down from four hundred forty-one the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Chattanooga are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average commute to work is about 20 minutes. More than 21.5% of Chattanooga residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.5%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chattanooga is 9.5%, which is less than Tennessee's average of 10.2%.

The percentage of Chattanooga residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 58.2%, is more than both the national and state average. Stuart Heights Baptist Church, Kings Point Church and Stanley United Methodist Church are some of the churches located in Chattanooga. The largest religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Non-Charismatic Churches Independent.

Chattanooga is home to the Creeks Bend Golf Club and the Concord Golf Course as well as Warner Park and Ross Landing City Park. Shopping malls in the area include Northgate Mall, Northgate Crossing Shopping Center and Lee Plaza East Shopping Center. Visitors to Chattanooga can choose from Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, Crystal Air Sport Motel and Hampton Inn Chattanooga I-75 North for temporary stays in the area.