Tech Trends in Welding Education

April 2024

The shortage of welders is no secret. Nearly 45% of current welders in the United States are ages 45 and up, according to ( The site estimated that 360,000 new welding professionals will be needed by 2027, leaving an average of 90,000 welding jobs to be filled annually. Welding training tools and enhanced technology will play a critical role in recruiting and training the next generation of welders. 

Miller Electric Mfg. LLC saw an influx in the use of OpenBook™, its free online e-learning software application, during and post-COVID. The software offers welding instructors access to e-learning modules to assign and deliver welding content, create quizzes, download welding labs, and monitor student participation and progress. This web-based tool aids in classroom curriculum development, saving instructors valuable time. The company has also seen advances in technology, such as augmented reality (AR), becoming an essential training tool in many fields from the medical to machining industries and — no surprise — in welding education and workforce development as it continues to grow. Training with these tools before moving an entry-level welder into the weld booth saves schools and companies precious time and money by training faster while reducing the waste that comes naturally when learning to strike an arc. These tools also provide seasoned welders with the opportunity to refine and enhance their skills. 

Weld training systems provide an incredible introduction to welding and help recruit and open the world of welding as a career. The Miller® MobileArc™ augmented reality system gives students a chance to experience what welding looks like and introduces the general parameters of welding by blending the real-world and realistic computer-generated images into a unique augmented reality environment. Students use a gas metal arc gun with an AR nozzle and specially coded coupons that transition to appear like steel when viewed through the mobile device or the AR helmet. 

AR also helps students gain muscle memory and learn welding techniques faster. 

Miller’s AugmentedArc™ system provides students and seasoned welders the opportunity to do just that — increase the speed at which students learn and offer seasoned welders exercises to enhance and further refine their skill set. The system provides exercises for gas metal arc welding (GMAW), gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), and flux core with multiple workpieces. As the augmented weld is performed, real-time feedback is provided to the user, allowing them to make technique adjustments while they perform the weld. Postweld feedback and a score (that can be customized by the weld instructor) is also provided, allowing for the student and weld instructor to review, evaluate, and make performance suggestions to enhance the user’s performance.

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A student practices welding using the AugmentedArc system. 


Beyond AR, industries are adding more automation within their facilities. As a result, more schools that focus on training students for industry are starting to add and build curriculum focused on automated welders, known as collaborative robots or cobots. 

Training with Tech 

Both students and instructors are finding inspiration from technology within welding education. Many educators are harnessing the power of technology to deliver customized, self-guided training for each student, leaving more time to focus one on one when students need additional instruction and mentoring. 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with an experienced welding instructor who was hesitant on the impact of augmented reality and automation within the welding classroom. 

Shortly after, the instructor found himself with more students in his classroom, leading him to find a way to increase the speed of training and reduce material costs to within his program. After reconsideration and recognizing the value, he used this technology to enhance his curriculum.   

Post utilization, the instructor shared that the AugmentedArc increased his teaching effectiveness by being able to pinpoint areas where the student needs more work, causing him to fine-tune his coaching in those areas to help them excel. All while seeing his students gaining key skills in a shorter timeframe.

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Users see this view inside the AugmentedArc as the helmet’s external optical senser captures and sends images of coded devices and workpieces to the simulator. 


To further prove the value, a semester-long study of 20 novice-level welding students occurred. The study showed 65% fewer training hours for students who used a blend of traditional weld training along with the use of the AugmentedArc vs. those students who only used traditional weld training.  

Additionally, the study showed a 60% reduction in material waste and expenses on coupons for each student who used a blend of traditional weld training along with the AugmentedArc system vs. those who only had traditional weld training. 

Tech and Welding Evolve Together  

As for what’s next, I anticipate an increase in remote applied learning could be on the horizon. Some schools have a hybrid model with students in the classroom on some days and doing remote computer work on others.  I hope that the flexibility of AR and automated welding training will assist in hybrid learning and bring more women into the trade. It is our job to make sure that we have inclusion and diversity in the trades. I believe these technologies can facilitate that because it allows us to stretch and expose students to these types of trades that they may have not been exposed to. 

The evolution of technology continues to play a crucial role across various industries. Faced with a shortage of welders and the imperative shift to digital learning during the COVID era, a new generation of students and instructors have seamlessly integrated into the emerging realms of AR and cobots. The adoption of these advanced tools for initial training, followed by a transition to traditional welding, not only saves valuable time and resources for schools and companies but also empowers instructors to provide tailored support for skill development. As educators embrace technology-supported training, the blended model of welding education is poised to expand further, meeting the persistent demand for skilled professionals. In essence, the future of welding technology education is not just a trend, but a lasting transformation that is here to stay. 


This article was written by Patricia Carr (national manager of education and workforce development, Miller Electric Mfg. LLC) for the American Welding Society.