It can cost a pretty penny to learn how to weld and purchase the proper equipment for the hobby. So, if you’re thinking about taking a stab at TIG welding and you’re wondering what it might cost you to learn the hobby, we’ve got you covered.
How expensive is it to TIG weld? When figuring out how expensive it is to learn how to TIG weld, you need to consider the costs of welding school tuition, the prices of completing individual projects, and the costs of equipment.
Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today that covers how expensive it is to TIG weld, we created this guide to help you out. We’ve done the research for you and created an article that addresses the costs of welding school tuition, how much it will cost you to purchase materials and complete specific welding projects, and the overall costs of equipment.
Costs of TIG Welding
If you’re new to TIG welding, and you’re trying to figure out how much it will cost you to start learning, you’ll need to know about the costs of welding school tuition, how much it costs to buy the supplies you’ll need for your welding projects, and the costs of the welding equipment you’ll need. We’ll begin by discussing the most natural place to get started, and that’s going to school to learn how to weld. Below we cover some of the costs of attending welding school.
First, we’ll cover the costs of attending welding school as you start the journey of learning how to TIG weld. The various costs of attending welding school are all addressed below.
When assessing how much it will cost you to attend welding school, you’ll need to know what the average cost of tuition is, and how long the program lasts. Tuition expenses can vary depending on how long you attend school, and how specialized you are in the different welding processes.
At its most basic level, welding school tuition costs start at around $5,000. Most of those programs last about three to seven months. If you decide to attend a local college program, you’ll get a longer duration in which to learn your new skill. Most college welding programs take about a year and a half to complete. Programs that are more intensive and last longer also require higher rates of tuition, typically costing around $15,000.
If you are looking to save a bit of money and you want to get started with welding quickly, you don’t necessarily need to get college training to find a welding job later on after time passes. Colleges do have benefits, but you can get your welding training done faster and pay reduced tuition if you decide to partake in welding training instead.
If you want to immerse yourself in a welding training program, then you’ll find that the costs of these programs vary quite a bit. The location of your school and the type of welding you are studying can significantly affect the costs. However, still, welding training programs typically cost much less than college tuition and take less time to complete. That means you’ll get the skills you need faster, and you’ll be entering the workforce more quickly, allowing yourself to make money faster.
Some people, however, feel they need more extensive training to become better welders. However, that’s not always the case, so it isn’t the case for you, don’t be surprised. Depending on how much you already know about welding before you decide to get some training, the amount of instruction you feel you need can vary widely. In that case, it’s best to go with your gut and get the training and education you need to make yourself a successful welder.
Depending on what type of training or college program you plan on attending, you may need to pay other associated fees besides your tuition. So, what are some of these fees? We’ve created a list below to help you out with a few cost estimates so that you can budget appropriately.
- Application fees are usually a required fee for any school you plan to attend. If you want to apply to a college, you’ll pay about $125 per school on average as you apply.
- Required testing fees, like any welding certification testing, you may be required to do upon completion of your program. Required testing fees won’t always be included with your regular tuition fees. The required welding certification testing you can expect to do will cost between $300 to $600 per test you need to take.
- Housing and food will also need to be factored in if you plan to live away from home. Depending on where you live and the program you are applying to, you may wind up paying between $500 to $10,000 per year for housing, food, books, and equipment. Housing by itself costs about $4000, so if you can live at home with your parents, you can save quite a bit of money.
- The average welding book costs about $220. So, unfortunately, the books you’ll need for your courses and certifications aren’t going to come cheap. You’ll also need to shell out around $500 to $1500 for the welding tools and safety equipment you’ll need for your training.
Cost of Welding Tools for Training
Unfortunately, welding isn’t a cheap hobby to get started with, and if you want to be a success when training in school and later in your career, you’ll need your tools. The fundamental tools that you’ll need for welding will cost you about $500 in total. Much of what you’ll need to buy will vary depending on the program and curriculum you are partaking in. However, here are some of the most common welding tools you’ll need for school and training:
- A welding helmet
- A wire brush
- Welding safety glasses
- A chipping hammer
- A welding jacket
- Tape measurer
- TIG welding gloves
Cost of Welding Certifications
Depending on where you live and what company you wind up welding for once you embark on your career, you may or may not need certifications besides your diploma when you become a welder. For example, you’ll want to make sure you get the Certified Welder card, which you’d receive from the American Welding Society. If you wish to that certification, you have to pass a test that costs between $800 and $1,100.
In welding, there are several different kinds of specialized certifications. The more specialized the services you can perform, the higher salary potential and better employment stability you’ll have throughout your career. Other types of certifications in welding include a certified welding engineer and an accredited welding supervisor.
How Much Time is Required to Become a Certified Welder?
Most welding programs can be completed in about eighteen months, or a year and a half. While that’s not too long of a time, some people will spend more time than that receiving an education in welding. That’s because of how much time you invest in your welding education will depend a lot on what you are trying to do throughout your long-term career.
Some training programs and schools have seven-month programs that help you prepare for a career in welding. On average, most vocational school programs in welding can be finished within a year. If you are planning on seeking an apprenticeship program in welding, that can take two or more years to complete. If you plan on attending community college to learn about welding, it will also take you about two years or so to complete the program.
Knowing the amount of time it should take you to complete your welding program should help you better budget and plan your welding school expenses.
Do I Need to Renew My Welding Certifications?
While the welding certifications you wind up with can vary compared to other welders because of your interests, most welding certificates need to be renewed after a certain amount of time. So, you’ll need to expect to renew your welding certifications every six months to three years if you want to stay active as a welder.
Getting your welding certification through AWS is a standard in the welding industry. You’ll have to renew that welding certification every two years. When your certificate is going to expire, you’ll get a six-month notice about it. To renew your certificate, you need to pay a $75 fee.
Welding is used for automotive, structural, plate, decorative, pipe, restoration, and other metalwork projects. Professionals work with aluminum, wrought iron, stainless steel, carbon steel, and galvanized steel to create custom fences, gates, interior decorative metalwork, and safety features such as baby gates or window bars. Several factors affect the cost of welding projects.
Costs of Welding Materials
Another essential item to consider when figuring out how expensive it is to learn how to TIG weld is the costs of welding materials. Different welding projects will cost you different amounts depending on the materials you need to purchase to complete those welding projects. When you start welding, you’ll need to get a few essential elements and make sure you always keep those materials on hand. The cost of each project for you, the welder, will then reflect itself when you charge the customer the final amount.
So, what materials should you always keep on hand when you plan on making welding your career, and how much do they cost? We’ve got an assessment of material costs from North Dallas Wrought Iron Doors
- Expect to spend about $64 each week on sanding paper.
- You’ll also need to purchase one 30-pound roll of wire for $40 every other week.
- Last, you’ll need to keep three bottles of flux or gas on hand at all times. This product will cost you about $150 every other week.
Besides sanding paper, rolls of wire, and bottles of flux or gas, you’ll also need to factor in the costs of the different types of metals you’ll be using. Different types of metals affect the overall cost of doing a welding project, too. Some types of metals cost more than other types of metals. The North Dallas Wrought Iron Doors tells us that steel is the cheapest metal, and aluminum and stainless steel both cost about twice as much as a standard steel.
Another thing you’ll need to keep in mind when assessing costs and prices in welding is that the price of steel affects the cost of welding. Steel’s price has been known to fluctuate over the years. Again, taking a look at North Dallas Wrought Iron Doors, they usually charge $45-$50 for a single twenty-five-foot stick of 2×6 14-gauge steel. However, during our most recent recession, that price went as high as $125 per stick.
Now that we’ve covered the costs of the welding materials you’ll need to consider; we’ll cover the costs of the welding equipment you’ll need to have on hand so that you can complete your welding jobs.
Costs of Welding Equipment
So far, we’ve given you a breakdown that covers the cost of welding school and training and the cost of welding materials. Now you’ll need to know a bit about the costs of welding equipment when trying to learn how expensive it is to TIG weld. Below we’ll cover some of the essential equipment that you’ll need and the costs of purchasing that necessary equipment.
Necessary TIG Welding Equipment
TIG welding uses a small diameter tungsten electrode and the workpiece to form the welding arc. TIG welding features several necessary pieces of equipment, including:
- A power source (AC and DC)
- A torch
- A backing system
- Protective equipment
To help you understand a little more about the type of equipment we’ve provided on our list, we’ll cover the necessary pieces of equipment in a bit more detail below.
When TIG welding, you will need an adequate power source. You can use either DC or AC when TIG welding. However, the key when welding is to find a constant current where the interaction between the voltage in the arc and the weld you make is getting a continuous current straight from its power source.
The arc length in TIG welding depends a lot on how the welder can consistently hold the torch above the workpiece. The length of the arc you get is also proportional to the amount of arc voltage the arc is receiving. Keep in mind that a longer arc will offer a higher voltage. So, if you wind up shortening your arc, the voltage you’ll have in your arc will decrease once you’ve reduced it. For example, if you wind up varying your arc length by 3-4mm, the voltage can start altering and dropping by 5V.
Any TIG power source you use will offer a limited range of current and not a lot of variety when it comes to changing voltage. These power sources might create a current over a variation of 5V as small of an amount as 10A, meaning there will be intermittent changes to the weld pool. That’s not ideal when you are welding because you want to be able to control the welding pool a bit better. That’s easier to do when you have a constant current and few changes.
When using a power source, you’ll start the arc with a High Frequency (HF) spark ionize the space that exists in between your electrode and your workpiece. Using HF, you can generate airborne as well as line transmitted interference. So, you’ll need to be aware of when you want to avoid interference with control systems and other items that might be used near your welding equipment.
On the other hand, when you need to weld sensitive areas, you can use a touch start, which is a non-HF approach known as “lift arc.” When doing this, you’ll short circuit the electrode into the workpiece itself. When you do that, you are only flowing the current when you’ve lifted the electrode away from the surface material. By using this approach, you won’t need to worry about the electrode combining with your workpiece’s surfaced and making your metal look unattractive.
DC Power Source
When using DC power, you’ll be able to make a concentrated arc that puts the most significant amount of heat into the workpiece. When you are performing TIG welding, you’ll discover that a DC power source will be used more often.
Keep in mind, however, that the arc has cathode roots on the electrode, and that means there won’t be much cleaning on the workpiece’s surface area. Each time you weld, you’ll need to make sure you do a good job cleaning the surface area before you weld and ensuring you’ve got a productive gas shield.
Some welders are using more transistor and inverter power sources increasingly more often when TIG welding. There are a few benefits to doing this, which include:
- Transistors and inverter power sources tend to come in sizes that are smaller than other types of power sources. Because these power sources come at a minimal size, they are easier to transport, making them far more portable.
- With transistor and inverter power sources, it’s much easier to create your arc ignition.
- These power sources also offer some special operative features, like current pulsing, which you won’t find in other types of power sources.
- Also, if you use these power sources, you can pre-program the outlet so you can do mechanized operations as you see fit.
Remember, the more stable your DC power source, the lower the current you can use, which helps give you more control as you TIG weld.
Most DC power sources cost between $60-$350 depending on their strength. You can check out some product pricing options by going here.
AC Power Source
Some metals that you work with will require you to use an AC power source when you TIG weld. For example, aluminum has a tenacious oxide film over its surface, so you need to use AC power when welding with aluminum, or you’ll encounter difficulty. You’ll need to then swap between positive and negative polarity. The periods of the positive electrode will help get the oxide off of the surface, making your metal appear clean.
While you will need to use an AC power source when TIG welding every so often, there are a few disadvantages to using AC power when compared to DC power. The disadvantages of AC power when TIG welding includes:
- Problems with a more diffuse arc
- You’ll need to use HF when you want to reignite the arc
- Because you’ll wind up needing to overheat the electrode, you won’t be able to keep the tapered point. You’ll wind up with a balled end, which makes it more difficult to weld.
However, if you’re welding aluminum, then you’ll need to put up with these issues because you’ll have to use AC power.
Keep in mind that switching between polarities allows arc reignition to be much faster for you, helping to cut back on the HF. You’ll need to imbalance the waveform, so the proportion of positive to negative polarity varies as you weld, allowing you to control how much heat gets applied to the workpiece from the electrode. If you want to weld your root run, you’ll need to operate the power source with more positive polarity because the workpiece will need as much heat as possible.
If you are TIG welding for filler runs, then use more negative polarity to minimize how much heat goes into the electrode. For example, you can utilize a 90% negative polarity, and you’ll discover that by doing that, you can keep your electrode pointed. By learning how to create a balanced position (meaning 50% electrode positive and negative polarities), you’ll be able to weld heavily oxidized aluminum like the experts.
Most AC power sources cost between $100 to $500 depending on how strong their power sources are. You can find some more information on quotes and pricing here.
Next, you’ll need to purchase a welding torch. You’ll find a bevy of torch designs for welding readily available. You’ll need to take a close look at the torch you need depending on the application you are planning to complete. You should try to pick up a torch that has an on/off switch and current control in the handle since many people find that those are easier to use when compared to foot controls. If you need to, you can also buy specialized torches for different types of applications.
Most welding torches cost between $50-$300 depending on how much the torch can accomplish. To get some ideas about torch prices, go here.
The electrode tip is the other part of the torch you’ll need to concern yourself with before welding. You’ll want to make sure you grind the electrode tip, so you get an angle between 60 to 90 degrees whenever you are manual welding. Remember, the tip angle will help you shape your metal, and the shape of the arc will tell you how well you can consistently keep your weld pool.
When people use an AC when welding, the electrode they typically use when TIG welding is pure tungsten. Most of the time, the tip winds up looking circular because of the consistent heat used when welding. Electrode tips typically cost between $15 to $30.
You’ll also need to make sure you have a gas lens placed in the torch nozzle, which will help you get laminar gas flow. A gas lens also helps keep you safer when you are doing more difficult welding tasks on curved areas of metal. There are several different types of nozzles available for purchase on the market today, so you will get the gas coverage you’ll need. A typical gas lens costs anywhere from about $20 to $60, depending on the manufacturer.
You’ll also need to make sure you purchase the necessary protective equipment to keep yourself safe while you are on the job. The types of equipment you’ll need include:
- A welding helmet, which costs between $60-$200.
- A welding jacket, which costs between $30-$180
- Welding glasses, which typically cost about $20.
- TIG welding gloves, which cost about $20.
While TIG welding may seem like an expensive hobby to partake in, learning how to weld is well worth the effort. TIG welding provides an exciting, new career opportunity for many that love welding. The cost of many college welding programs is affordable, and most of them last less than two years, making welding a profession that the eager can jump into quickly.
Now that we’ve covered the expenditures you’ll likely encounter when preparing to TIG weld, you’ll know what to expect. You’ll be able to pick out a welding college or training program and purchase the equipment you’ll need to get going. As you learn how to weld, you’ll find the hobby is enjoyable and rewarding since it offers plenty of creativity.
So now it’s time for you to get out there, plan your welding training, and purchase your equipment!