So figure out what you want for the long term. If you are a hands on learner trade school might be the best. If you are able to stand the books and classes attending a college degree welding program might be best for long term growth because of requirements to move into management and other positions. An example would be a CWI has many ways you can get the certification but if you attain a four year degree you only need one year of supervisory work before you can go for the test. On the other hand if you have never attended a trade school or college you need 11 years experience to even be considered for the same certification.
Hope all is well. The best way to get into welding is to go to a trade school/vocational school. Many of my friends and family are new to the trades and actually went into their local union office - (example: Pipefitters, carpenters, electricians, welding) and asked the individuals there is they could provide steps/brochure on where to proceed if they wanted to join this specific union. More than likely there are contractors that need works and will eventually help you enroll in a trade school where you will be mainly in a classroom setting and then on the field 1 or two days of the week. Towards you last years of trade school - (4 years total) you will start being more on the field and less in the classroom.
While this is just one way of doing it - I have seen other individuals not go to the union office and enroll directly with the trade school. Either way - it is most importantly to ask questions, be polite, and have a positive attitude when you go to trade school and or go to the union in order to show that you are interested and would be a good addition to the team.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks!
You can do this while in high school or after graduating.
If you want to be a self employed- get a 4 year degree in business admin. It will never go to waste. Know the basics of accounting, communications, and be overall rounded person to be a professional.