Answering the above question will depend on many factors. If you are hired as a welder in a factory or a small fabrication shop, unless your welds need to be X – rayed and “hydro related” (Water leak pressure tested) then you don’t need to be licensed. The company is expected to assume responsibility and liability for your metal works and if there any problems, they will be the focal point for them.

But if you are going to work as a contractor as a welder, a pipe fitter, or a welding engineer, then you are required to have business license and you will also likely have to take an on-site test to confirm that your welding certifications are indeed valid.

If you are looking to open a metal work business where you can do ornamental ironwork, minor welding repairs and occasional welding fabrication work, you will surely need to obtain a business license.

In addition, if you plan on doing major structural works, most types of piping repair and the fabrication of nearly anything that will be used to support weight, be it a working platform at a height or that involves any type of safety system, you would need a business license and also a welding certification.

There are a number of US organizations that certify welders. The biggest ones are the American Welding Society or AWS, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers or ASME, and the American Petroleum Institute or API. The AWS, for instance, focuses on structural codes involved in the construction of buildings and bridges. The ASME deals more with boiler and pressure vessel codes, and the API oversees codes for welding the pipelines for the gas and oil industries.

Anyone with some experience in metal work would know that it’s a complex craft and each type of job requires its own set of skills and knowledge. The training and know – how you need for a job depend on a range of factors, such as what type of metal you are using, what type of gas, and the positions of the materials you are putting together.

Also note that in some states, you will be required to apply for a state welding license in addition to your business license and certification before you can practice as a welder. For instance, in New York, welding license requirements include certification by the AWS or the NY State Department of Transportation, and a background check.

To qualify for AWS certification, you will need to pass a written test for the level of certification you are applying for. Then you will need to complete a practical exam: a welder performance qualification test at an AWS Accredited Test Facility. Once you’ve passed these exams, you will need to submit an application.

Some cities, like Los Angeles, have their own certification and licensing requirements for metalworkers employed by the government. If you are planning to work on government projects, you will need to check what certification and licensing you will need.

Steps on How to Get Licensed to Do Metal Work

Note that not all states require metal workers or welders to have a business license or certification. Still, getting certified is highly advisable for several reasons. For one thing, it shows potential employers and clients that you are a professional and you know what you are doing.

A welding certification will significantly expand your pool of potential clients who might not want to work with a welder who does not have a welding contractor license. For another thing, getting more training and studying for exams will help you hone your craft and expand your professional abilities. To become licensed to do metal works in the United States, below are crucial steps to consider.

1. Earn a High School Diploma

To be licensed to work on metals, you are advised to acquire high school education. Tradesmen must be well educated. A high school diploma is very crucial to a person’s success as a welder in the United States. There are many high schools that offer courses in welding and metal fabrication. Anyone who aspires to work on metals should take every course that is offered in order to learn basic welding skills and gain some hands – on experience.

These courses will provide a basic foundation for future study and will provide an opportunity for students to be sure they want to pursue a career in welding. Since welders are always measuring and calculating, algebra and geometry classes will be needed. In addition, science courses will provide a better understanding of how welding really works.

2. Get a Certificate or Degree in Welding

Have it in mind that students can participate in a Welding Certificate Program that lasts from six to eighteen months. Note that these courses are usually taught as face – to – face classes as there are many practical applications. The cost of welding certificate programs varies greatly.

From as little as $3,500 to as much as $20,000, they can vary across board. However, to determine which school and program fits the student’s need; you will need to contact the school or university for more information.Also, students wanting a higher degree can complete the coursework for a Welding Technology Associate’s Degree.

Note that this program tends to last for two years and is mostly face – to – face courses. The cost of the Associate’s Degree ranges from $6,000 to $55,000. Aside the Associate’s Degree, you can also join the Welding Engineering Bachelor’s Degree program. This program lasts for four years and requires six to eighteen months.

Courses cover welding basics and will equip the student with the knowledge and skill needed to start working upon completion. Participants learn how to use welding equipment safely, read blueprints, and complete work orders. They also learn to work with others as a team and proper protocol for working as a welder.

3. Participate in an Apprenticeship

After formal training – particularly after completing a certificate or an Associate’s program – many aspiring welders opt for an apprenticeship afterwards. Note that it is generally easier to find an apprenticeship than a full – time job; allowing new graduates to get their foot in the door, get hands-on experience, learn best working practices, start earning money, and start enjoying the benefits of employment.

In addition, it is quite common for companies to offer successful apprentices a full – time position. Even if this does not happen, an accomplished apprenticeship is the best experience to offer a potential new employer. Normally, fully completing an apprenticeship and rising to the rank of ‘journeyman’ takes around three years.

4. Earn a Welding Certification

Welding certifications validate your knowledge and skill level to a potential employer. In some areas, including certain U.S. states, you can start working as a welder without certification, but unless you have excellent job experience, you will have a hard time competing with people with training certification.

Many employers also offer internal certification programs, but for a performance – based credential with no educational prerequisites, the American Welding Society’s Certified Welder (CW) is the main option.

The CW exam tests your ability to perform welding procedures used with sheet metal, petroleum pipelines, structural steel and chemical refineries. To remain certified, you submit a maintenance form every six months that verifies your continued employment as a welder.


Once you have your certification, you will need to decide what you want to do next. You could hire yourself out as an independent contractor, start a mobile welding business, or open a fabrication shop, and each of these options comes with its own set of requirements and procedures.

Joy Nwokoro