Enrolling in the best welding schools in California can open the door to a highly profitable hands-on career. Welding is essential to everyday life, from creating high-rise apartment buildings to crafting children’s toys. Not to mention it’s one of the fastest-growing trades that you can get into that requires plenty of skill.
This guide will explore five of the top-ranked welding schools in California. Ranked from the lowest average annual expenses to the highest, each of these schools meets the following criteria:
- An average yearly cost of no more than $15,000
- A predicted median starting salary of no lower than $34,000
- Accredited programs by recognized bodies
5 Best Welding Schools in California
1. Orange Coast College
2 to 4 Year; Costa Mesa, CA
Average Annual Cost: $4,503
Orange Coast College offers a diverse welding technology program. During your studies, you’ll learn the importance of this career across multiple industries, including petrochemical plants, underwater vessels, appliance manufacturing, and national security.
As a program that readily accepts both men and women, it’s a fantastic program with equal opportunity.
At Orange Coast College, you have the opportunity to earn either a Certificate of Achievement or Certificate of Completion in welding. Most of the programs are designed for individuals who have already established themselves but want to expand their knowledge further.
With that said, they also offer an Associate in Arts degree for entry-level welding enthusiasts. Most of the program offerings are Certificates of Completion and include:
- Basic to Advanced Welding
- Gas Tungsten Arc Welding
- Gas Metal Arc Welding
- Pipe Welding
As you can guess, the welding technology programs at Orange Coast College are designed for career-ready individuals. You’ll find that upon graduation, the curriculum will better equip you with the necessary skills to find better employment opportunities.
2. Los Medanos College
2 to 4 Year; Pittsburg, CA
Average Annual Cost: $6,154
Studying welding at Los Medanos College is a fantastic opportunity for welders at all skill levels. Their current program adapts to beginners while also offering programs for advanced professionals.
During your studies, you’ll experience hands-on instruction to better understand the practices and principles of welding. Also, you’ll have the added benefit of working in a modern shop environment, helping you prepare for production-style welding.
All of the courses in your program will be available on days, evenings, and weekends. Also, it’s important to note that this program is openly welcome to both men and women, helping diversify your skills in the trades.
The courses included in the welding technology program at Los Medanos College are diverse. Students will experience working with sheet metal, pipe, and metal plates in various positions.
You’ll also experience flux-cored arc welding, oxyacetylene welding, gas-tungsten arc welding, gas-metal arc welding, and shielded-metal arc welding.
Once you’ve finished your studies, you’ll meet the Welding Codes and Certifications standards to enter the industry. Some of the courses you’ll experience with your enrollment include:
- Blueprint Reading for Welders
- Pipe Welding Practice
- TIG Welding Practice
- MIG Welding Practice
- Computer Literacy
- Reading and Writing Proficiency
3. City College of San Francisco
2 to 4 Year; San Francisco, CA
Average Annual Cost: $6,382
At City College of San Francisco, students will have the opportunity to take a vast assortment of unique welding courses.
At this time, the school doesn’t offer a welding-specific program, but you can enroll in the manufacturing program. With this avenue of study, you’ll not only train to become a welder but a machinist as well.
When designing your academic plan, you’ll be able to add an exceptional number of welding courses to your calendar. Some of these courses include:
- Intermediate Welding Processes
- Survey of Welding Processes
- Welding Symbols and Inspection
- Advanced Welding Processes
As mentioned, students will need to enroll in the manufacturing degree pathway to learn how to become a welder.
This program will use several machine tools to create instruments, tools, and metal parts. Additionally, you’ll train to join or cut metal utilizing various welding processes.
Currently, there are four different pathways you can choose from depending on your experience level. At City College of San Francisco, students sign up for:
- Manufacturing and Fabrication Certificate of Accomplishment
- Welding Technology Level I Certificate of Accomplishment
- Machining Technology Level I Certificate of Accomplishment
- Machining Technology Level II Certificate of Accomplishment
4. Santa Rosa Junior College
2 to 4 Year; Santa Rosa, CA
Average Annual Cost: $6,585
The welding program at Santa Rosa Junior College is one of the best in the state. With dedicated course offerings and plenty of hands-on experience, students will be thoroughly prepared for their future careers.
You’ll find an assortment of career placements upon graduation in industries such as:
- Pipeline Construction
- Sculpture Repair
- Automobile Racing
- Bridge and Building Construction
- Ship Building
Santa Rosa Junior College offers a unique Welding Technology Certificate that you’ll receive after getting 17.5 units. In this program, you’ll try your hands in various welding areas. You’ll also be able to experience modern welding options to accommodate newer metals.
During your studies, you’ll diversify many essential employable skills. Students will use math skills, learn how to read blueprints and identify welding symbols, differentiate between non-ferrous and ferrous metals, and more.
Upon graduation, you’ll have all the knowledge needed to sit for and pass the American Welding Society Unlimited Structural Certification Test. After receiving a passing grade on this examination, you can move on to your dream career.
5. Napa Valley College
2 to 4 Year; Napa, CA
Average Annual Cost: $14,155
Students looking for a fast-paced yet detail-oriented career will love the welding technology program at Napa Valley College.
With your studies, you’ll be able to enter various fields, such as pipe welding, steamfitting, pipefitting, or structural metal fabrication. Many graduates also find themselves moving on to be welding engineers or welding inspectors.
As one of the best welding schools in California, you’ll develop all welders’ fundamental and futureproof skills. You’ll garner a strong background in plasma cutting, shielded metal arc welding, flux core, MIG, and TIG welding.
Students will also try digital design, technical math, and machine shop practices.
One of the massive benefits of this program is that Napa Valley College is an American Welding Society Educational Institution Member. The program is specifically designed to help students become AWS-certified welders.
With this accreditation, you’ll find that employment will be easier to find worldwide.