MIG welding or metal inert gas welding is an essential skill to learn for any welder. Of course, there are many different forms of welding, but MIG welding is a very versatile skill, used in the automotive industry, manufacturing, shipping, aerospace, and infrastructure, among others.
Recently the name of MIG welding was changed to Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), but if you were to use this term among long-time welders today, they may wonder what the heck you are talking about. For the sake of this article, we will be referring to it as MIG welding.
Now, when you first begin training as a welder it can feel like you have miles to go before you master it. It is true that becoming a good MIG welder takes time and practice, but we promise it may not be as bad as it seems. In this article, we are going to be assessing how long it takes to learn MIG welding and the different avenues of learning available.
How long does it take to become a MIG welder?
You can expect it to take anywhere between 6 months to 2 years to become a MIG welder. However, in actual fact, the length of time it takes varies depending on a number of factors such as where you are learning and how much prior experience you may have.
You can undertake a course in college or through a business to learn to weld and gain a welding license. Apprenticeships in welding are also very common and they may vary in length depending on how many hours per week you attend the apprenticeship.
Most apprenticeships run full time, alongside the hours a welder would work. For example, according to the National Careers Service, you could expect to work a 37.5 hour week as a trainee welder in an apprenticeship.
Some of the currently available apprenticeships are said to last for around 18 months. This is for the equivalent of Level 2/ GCSE. For higher levels (3 and 4) you may expect it to take a little longer to become a qualified MIG welder.
You can also teach yourself how to become a MIG welder. Sure, you may not be qualified, but this will allow you to MIG weld for your own use at home. This could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months and even years. The process of learning to MIG weld alone is one of trial and error, and so requires patience alongside the best MIG welder you can buy.
Of course, if you already have experience in welding (such as in a different area), then becoming a MIG welder may be a much quicker process. For example, if you are a qualified welder but have only dealt with, say, Stick Welding, then you could apply for a new job where TIG welding is required and be able to learn it much more quickly, within just a few months.
We also want to point out that, even when you are a qualified welder, it can actually take many more years to perfect the skill. Practice is key, which is why apprenticeships and college courses where the majority of training is practical (hands-on) are most commonly seen.
Is it hard to learn MIG welding?
MIG welding is certainly a skill that needs to be mastered over time. Whether you find it a difficult skill to master or particularly hard will depend on your way of learning and preferences. It is no secret that welding and other similar skills are very hands-on. They require lots of physical work as well as precision and an eye for detail this means you have to possess a number of different skills and qualities in order to master it.
There is also the factor of the training to consider. The training is typically done through an apprenticeship or college course. The apprenticeship in particular is designed to show you what your life could be like as a qualified welder. You will be working a full work week, and often taking part in overtime. This can be very tiring and so you may find this aspect hard to deal with at first.
With these factors in mind, we cannot say that MIG welding will be easy, as such, but some people may take to it more naturally than others. It will depend on what you classify as hard or easy, and so it is a very personal judgment to make.
What is certain, however, is that it is a skill that cannot be mastered overnight and will require much in the way of training to qualify (around 6 months at a minimum and 2 years maximum). However, you should also take into account the fact that you will be perfecting the skill of MIG welding for a number of years after you have qualified, as it truly is one of those skills that can constantly be improved upon.