Is Welding a Good Career, And Should You Pursue It?

Is Welding a Good Career, And Should You Pursue It?

Table of Contents > 1. Why Should You Pursue a Career In Welding?
    1.1 Strong Demands For Welders
    1.2 Easy To Rise From Beginner To Professional Welder
    1.3 High Welder Salary: How Much Does It Pay?
    1.4 Diverse Industry Options And Flexibility
    1.5 Starting Your Welding Bussines
    1.6 Continuous Education And Advancement
2. Risks and Downsides Of Welding Career
    2.1 Physical Demands of The Welding Jobs
    2.2 Hazardous Environment And Work Conditions
    2.3 Increased Rate Of Welding Automation
3. Conclusion
4. 🧐Is Welding a Good Career, And Should You Pursue It FAQ

In the ever-evolving landscape of career opportunities, certain professions continue to stand the test of time and retain their relevance. Welding, a skilled trade that has been an integral part of industries for centuries, is one such career that has shown remarkable resilience.

The demand for skilled welders remains strong and continues to offer a plethora of promising prospects. From infrastructure development to manufacturing advancements, welding is crucial in diverse sectors.

In this blog, we delve into the reasons why welding has become an increasingly attractive career option, exploring its potential in the contemporary job market and shedding light on the opportunities it holds.

A welder is welding.

Photo by @theblondewelder (TikTok)

Welding Career Overview: What Does a Welder Do?

A welder is a skilled professional who, simply put, joins two metals using various welding techniques. Welders work with multiple types of metals, such as steel, aluminum, and stainless steel, and their job is to create a strong and everlasting bond between them. 

The created welds must persist through the harshest conditions, and many industries, such as construction, manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, shipbuilding, and oil and gas, rely on it. However, welding is more than just creating a weld between two metals. 

Pipe Welding

Photo by @902miffster (TikTok)

To become a successful welder, you will also need to:

  • Read and interpret blueprints, technical drawings, and specifications
  • Calculate and measure the dimensions of the parts to be welded
  • Inspect structures or materials to be welded
  • Prepare the work area and pieces you are about to weld
  • Choose the suitable welding method for given metal parts
  • Weld materials according to blueprint specifications
  • Monitor the welding process and adjust heat as necessary
  • Maintain equipment and machinery
  • Make sure you follow safety requirements provided by organizations such as OSHA or the American Welding Society Safety and Health fact sheets

Why Should You Pursue a Career In Welding?

Due to specific world situations, we have been seeing significant turbulence in the job market last few years. However, welding still remains a strong and in-demand career.

A welder is working.

Photo by @sarahwelds_ (TikTok)

Pursuing a welding career can provide a list of advantages, including:

  • Strong demand for welders
  • A stable and fulfilling professional path
  • Job security 
  • Diverse opportunities 
  • Competitive pay
  • Hands-on work 
  • Flexibility
  • Potential for continued growth in a dynamic industry

Strong Demands For Welders

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of welders is projected to grow 1 percent from 2022 to 2032, which is slower than the average for all occupations (3%). However, skilled workers are always in demand, so in reality, the welder shortage is not closely related to projected employment growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program, about 42,600 welding jobs are projected each year, on average, over the decade. [1]

Employment of welders is projected to grow 1 percent from 2022 to 2032.

Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm#tab-6

Soon enough, the nation's aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers to help rebuild bridges and highways. That's why the American Welding Society data from 2020 projected that welding will encounter a shortage of about 300,000 welders by 2024. However, in the latest reports of 2024, this number increased to the shortage of 330,000 welders.

Another issue is the age of the average welder. In 2018, AWS stated a concern with data showing the average age of welders as 57 years, and in the UK and Australia, ages reached 55-57 years. The U.S. Census and available data for 2020-2024 show the average age of welders as 39.4 years. Still, in reality, 51% of welders are older than 40. Therefore, the high demand for welders is also caused by a large number of retirements among welders and the lack of interest of young ones in pursuing a career. [2]

The workforce shortage calls for welding automation. Most large-scale manufacturing turns to robots and automated welding machines that improve overall productivity and deal with shortages. However, welding robots still need a skilled operator to program and run them. So, even if it solves some of the issues, the demand for the welders remains.

Robotic Welding

Source: https://www.macmetal.com/robotic-welding-vs-manual-welding/

Stable And Fulfilling Professional Path

Welding is one of the professions that provides a highly stable and fulfilling career path. The best part is that you can start your career without formal education and, sometimes, not even experience. There are two types of requirements: welder certification and welding qualification test.

Welding certification is acquired through welder training and tests. Welder training is available through high school technical education classes or programs at vocational-technical institutes, community colleges, and private welding schools. The welding program will give you a certification that opens the door to a successful and professional path. To boost the interest in welding, AWS offers welder grants of $25,000 that can improve and expand training programs and institutions to increase the number of welding graduates nationwide. [3]

AWS Certification
AWS Certification
Source: https://www.tws.edu/blog/welding/aws-certification/

Welding qualification tests prove that you possess unique skills required for some jobs. That means if you do the test right, you don’t need a valid welding certificate. So, you can buy a home welder such as YesWelder MIG 205 DS, and practice till you get everything right. However, there are high chance you’ll learn everything by completing some training or certification courses.

YesWelder MIG-205DS-B

YesWelder MIG-205DS-B

Easy To Rise From Beginner To Professional Welder

Like in any other career, the welder's salary is closely related to welding experience. However, if you are dedicated enough, once you start and find yourself in the welding career, advancing and stepping up the ladder is easy. In a few years, you can easily climb from an apprentice and beginner to a professional welder who enjoys a high-paying job.

According to BLS, based on experience, welders are divided into groups of welding beginners (0-2 years), mid-career professionals (3-6 years), and seniors (7+ years). You will start as an apprentice or Welder I, but you can evolve into a mid-career professional over the years.

With more than five years spent in the welding industry, you are considered a senior welder. After completing some more courses and certification, you can evolve into a certified welding inspector, certified welding supervisor, or welding engineer. 

What is certified welding inspector
What is certified welding inspector
Getty Images

Many consider these the best welding jobs since they are usually drawn away from fieldwork and harsh conditions. So, if you are willing to go through continuous training, improve, and learn, hard work eventually pays off.

High Welder Salary: How Much Does It Pay?

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, welders in the US can earn a median hourly wage for welders of $23.53 per hour or $48,940 per year. Comparison-wise, welders can make more than the national average of $48,060, the median average of all occupations across the states. [4]

Average annual salary for welders in the United States.

Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm#tab-5

However, this is statistical information based on welders across the US, while in reality, your salary will depend on experience, industry, state, employer, company, work hours, bonuses, and many more. As a result, we see annual salaries as high as $100,000 and as low as $25,500. The majority of welder salaries currently range between $36,830 (25th percentile) to $46,000 (75th percentile), with top earners (90th percentile) making $72,970 annually across the United States. [5]

Experience can significantly impact your salary, so apprentices with 0-2 years of experience usually earn over $25,000 a year. Meanwhile, experienced welders on oil rig or underwater welding experts can easily make over $100,000 or even $200,000 with overtime and bonuses.

Underwater Welding
Underwater Welding 
Photo by @scarrybeautifulrealm (TikTok)

Different industries also grant higher or lower salaries. For example, Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing employs the highest percentile of welders, but the average annual salary is $ 47,310. Meanwhile, Scheduled Air Transportation pays yearly $ 102,900; Water, Sewage, and Other Systems also go over $100,000, but these industries employ 0.01-0.08% of all welders. The same thing applies to states. States with the best pay rates are Alaska or Hawaii, where welders annually make over $70,500. [6]

Diverse Industry Options And Flexibility

Welding plays a crucial role in various industries across the globe. Most welders can find employment opportunities in construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, automotive, aerospace industry, and more. This diversity allows welders to explore various sectors and work on different types of projects, keeping their careers dynamic and versatile.

Structural Welding
Structural Welding
Photo by @sarahwelds_ (TikTok)

Welding is a promising career because the required welding skills are the same across industries. For example, with proper skills, you can switch from fabrication to automotive manufacturing or even the oil and gas industry with little to no need for improvements or changes. This kind of flexibility adds an element of security to a career that is already in demand.

As we mentioned, specific professions, such as rig welders or underwater welders, pay pretty well. With enough experience and skills, you can get into rig welding or pursue a career as a nuclear welder or combo welder if the salary is your top priority. Flexibility also applies to the state you are working in, so you can adjust your career according to your location or move if you are in need of higher pay.

Rig Welding
Rig Welding
Photo by @thatrigwelder (TikTok)

Additionally, welding flexibility allows you to travel the world while doing your job. Welding offshore oil rigs or underwater welder get the opportunity to complete welding projects in various conditions and places, including construction sites, fabrication shops, and offshore facilities.

Starting Your Welding Bussines

Starting a business in this turbulent economy is not an easy task for many professions, but we cannot say that for welding. If you own a set of welding and cutting machines, you need little to no initial investment to start a business. Due to high demand, many local companies require welding services for repairs, new construction, or modifications, so you are set for success.

Welding Repair
Welding Repair
Photo by @kyrawalchester (TikTok)

If you feel like company rules aren't strict, or you don't feel like working for someone, you can always start contracting work. According to ZipRecruiter, the average hourly pay for an Independent Contractor Welder in the United States is $22, which is close to the average welder's salary. The majority of Independent Contractor Welder's wages currently range between $14.18 (25th percentile) to $31.25 (75th percentile) across the United States. [7]

The average hourly pay for an Independent Contractor Welder in the US.
The average hourly pay for an Independent Contractor Welder in the US.
Source: https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Independent-Contractor-Welder-Salary-per-Hour

Therefore, you can get an independent and stable career that pays really well, with minimum to no investment.

Continuous Education And Advancement

The welding industry continues to evolve with advancements in technology and techniques. From new welding methods to innovative materials, staying current with the latest developments can open doors to exciting opportunities and career growth. Introducing new welding techniques opens a new door for welding jobs and training. You can attend workshops, seminars, and conferences related to welding and keep up with industry publications to stay informed.

The implementation of VR and AR technology makes welder training easier than ever. You can get hands-on experience while practicing new technologies, so welding classes are easier than ever. Additionally, improvements in welding safety training also make welding a lot safer profession. Many welders get a chance to learn how to perform everyday welding job with minimal risks, therefore eliminating some of the downsides of this career.

Use VR welding simulator for practice
Use VR welding simulator for practice
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csu4D3M-OHc

As long as you are keen to keep track of the latest trends, you can become more efficient or even put practice in advanced processes. Mastering an advanced skill will, yet again, yield more money due to a scarce number of qualified personnel that can successfully do it.

Risks and Downsides Of Welding Career

Like any other profession, welding is not without its downsides, and you should know what you are getting into before thinking about it. Most welding jobs are associated with risks that are closely related to the sole nature of the welding.

Welding is a physically demanding occupation that includes working in uncomfortable positions and harsh environments. It also carries its hazards and health risks. Additionally, future trends in welding make workers more replaceable, which discourages many from pursuing this career.

Some Common Welding Hazards
Some Common Welding Hazards
Source: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-safety-precaution-of-electric-arc-welding

Physical Demands of The Welding Jobs

Welding is a physically demanding occupation that requires prolonged periods of standing, working in uncomfortable positions, and handling heavy equipment. Prolonged standing can lead to fatigue and discomfort, especially for individuals who are not accustomed to it.

Be aware that occupations such as pipeline or combo welders include frequently working in cramped spaces or uncomfortable positions that require bending, crouching, or reaching. This can strain the back, shoulders, and joints, resulting in early retirement. 

Pipeline Welding
 Pipeline Welding
Photo by @eliteweldworks (TikTok)

Welding also requires physical strength and stamina. To handle heavy materials, operate machinery, or manipulate metal components throughout the workday, you must maintain stamina and endurance. That's why taking regular breaks, practicing good posture, and using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial for minimizing physical risks

Hazardous Environment And Work Conditions

There is a reason why some jobs, such as rig welder or underwater welding, are one of the highest-paying occupations. These are some of the most dangerous jobs that include working in harsh environments with extreme temperatures, weather conditions, and confined spaces. There is a risk of electrical shock, fire hazards, noise hazards, and exposure to radiation, and the consequences can be fatal. 

Even if not working in the harshest environments, welders are exposed to toxic fumes, intense heat, and bright light. Long-term exposure to welding fumes and ultraviolet radiation can lead to health risks, including respiratory conditions, eye problems, and increased susceptibility to certain cancers.

However, many of these drawbacks can be minimized or mitigated through proper training, adherence to safety protocols, and ongoing professional development. Understanding and managing these potential challenges can help welders have a fulfilling and safe career in welding.

Welding Safety Rules

Source: https://safetyculture.com/topics/welding-safety/10-welding-safety-rules/

Increased Rate Of Welding Automation

The global market for robotic welding is being rapidly driven by the increasing adoption of Industry 4.0, which fully automates the manufacturing process without human intervention. According to Future Market Research, the global robotic welding market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.45% during the forecast period of 2023-2028 to reach nearly USD 12.92 billion by 2027. [8]

That's why many welders fear that welding robots might take their jobs in the future, and this is partially true, as many big manufacturing companies are turning to automation. For example, welding robots, while being a great initial investment, provide precise and quick results with minimum errors, thereby augmenting productivity. Additionally, the costs of training welders and losses due to injuries are reduced by automation, justifying the overall costs of investment.

Robotic Welding

Source: https://www.automate.org/robotics/blogs/7-common-types-of-robotic-welding-processes-and-when-they-re-used

Even though the future of manual welders might look grim, highly skilled workers are still widely appreciated and wanted in the welding field. Fear-mongering and flashy headlines drastically exaggerate the idea that robots will replace humans.

Yes, robots are better in highly repetitive tasks and mass production, but they lack the agility and reaction of skilled welders, which is required in complex welds. Additionally, you won't see robots working in outdoor environments such as oil rigs, underwater, large pipelines, or any unreachable condition. So, despite the discouragements by many, the future of welding jobs is still looking good.

Conclusion

Despite the potential challenges, pursuing a welding career is an excellent choice with numerous advantages. Welding can provide a stable and fulfilling professional path with strong demand, job security, diverse opportunities, competitive pay, hands-on work, flexibility, and the potential for continued growth in a dynamic industry.

The latest improvements are helping many welders overcome physical demands and risks. By embracing the opportunities, acquiring the necessary skills, and staying updated with industry advancements, you can enjoy a stable, fulfilling, and prosperous career in welding for years to come.

 

🧐Is Welding a Good Career, And Should You Pursue It FAQ

1. What is the salary range for welders in the US?

Welders in the US earn a median wage of $23.53 per hour or $48,940 per year, higher than the national average of $48,060. Salaries vary widely based on experience, industry, and location, ranging from $25,500 to $100,000, with most earning between $36,830 and $46,000.

Top earners make around $72,970. Apprentices earn over $25,000 annually, while experienced welders in specialized fields can make over $100,000 or even $200,000 with overtime and bonuses.

2. What are the advantages of choosing welding as a career?

Pursuing a welding career offers several advantages, including strong demand, job security, a stable and fulfilling path, diverse opportunities, competitive pay, hands-on work, flexibility, and growth potential in a dynamic industry.

 

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2 comments


  • .W.K. Somers

    I am 73 Yrs old, and been welding since I was 16 yrs. old, would do it again if had a chance and was not so old, still try to do some welding on a small scale to keep in practice. I would hope more young people get into it,I also taught at local community college- adult education for 10 yrs, loved it.


  • Jeremy Felcher

    I’m interested


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