Welding can be an incredibly rewarding and career choice, but while this job does require some essential skills and training, it can lead to a lucrative career in a variety of industries.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the qualifications and skills you’ll need to become a professional welder, show you common salaries for welders, and link you to active job openings available near you.
What Is a Welder?
Welding is a fabrication technique used to join materials. These materials typically include metal and thermoplastics. The welding process is accomplished by heating the metal pieces and allowing them to melt and cool together — a process known as fusion welding.
Welders are the skilled tradespeople who join these metal pieces. This job is essential to the field of construction and manufacturing, with welders often joining pipes, steel beams, and other essential building materials. Welding is an important job that is absolutely essential to our society’s infrastructure.
Types of Welders
Most people think all welders on job sites carry out the same functions, but there are many types of welders. The skills required for welders will vary based on what type of welder you hope to become.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most common types of welders:
Construction welders. There are two types of construction welders — residential and commercial welders. Residential welders work on smaller construction projects, for instance, welding residential pipes in single-story homes. On the other hand, commercial welders have more complicated jobs, with tasks ranging from welding extensive plumbing systems to large electrical and HVAC designs.
Manufacturing welders. This type of welder is responsible for joining metal components. The tasks vary depending on the type of plant — for instance, some manufacturing welders might work on cars, while others work on more precise parts.
Sheet metal welders. These welders prepare sheet metal to be installed at job sites. They often study blueprints or building plans ahead of time and pre-weld pieces to fit the job’s specifications.
Boilermakers. This type of welder is highly specialized and used to make large boilers or containers that hold gases or liquids. These welders often must work in high-temperature settings and small spaces.
Other types of welders include structural steel welders, industrial welders, shutdown welders, pipefitters, rig welders, military welders, shipyard welders, and motorsports welders.
Some of the highest-paying jobs in the welding field are in the fields of aerospace, military support, underwater service, and supervision. Pipe welders who tackle large projects can also yield high pay.
Educational Requirements for Welders
To become a welder, you typically only need a high school diploma, although many companies will not hire you without some form of welding experience or background. Some companies may even provide on-the-job training if you’d like to earn money while working and learning.
However, if you want to land the top jobs or work as a more specialized welder, some form of technical school is typically encouraged.
Many welders participate in technical training at high school through vocational tech programs. Others might attend vocational or trade school after high school graduation. Many community college programs also offer certificate programs that provide specialized training for aspiring welders.
If you plan on becoming a welder in the military, you can sign up with the Army to receive the training you’ll need. Alternatively, you could apply for a military academy.
You can even obtain an associate degree in welding technology. This degree often helps welders prepare for their jobs by teaching them blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, and shop mathematics. Many colleges even offer bachelor’s degrees in welding, setting welding students up for higher-paid and more specialized careers.
Some welders might even be able to find apprenticeships or work-study opportunities through companies or established welders for more hands-on training.
Job Opportunities for Welders
Before getting into any industry, it’s important to understand the demand for workers, so you know how competitive job opportunities and salaries can be.
Since welding is a trade that’s necessary for the infrastructure, development, and general maintenance of the country, it’s a job that will be needed for years to come. Recent data also indicates that as fewer students enroll in trade schools, the demand for welding jobs is rising.
In fact, according to the American Welding Society (AWS), the demand for welders is expected to hit a number as large as 375,000 by 2023. This estimated deficit makes welding an excellent career path for anyone looking for hands-on work, job security, and competitive pay.
Average Salaries for Welders in the United States
Since welders are highly in-demand to keep the country functioning and growing, salaries are set to match this need.
As an entry-level welder, you can expect your median salary to be around $41,380 (as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Most welders should expect to make around this amount when starting, although the opportunities to grow and advance are plentiful.
Some factors to consider if you want to earn more money off the bat include:
Travel. Work as a contract welder who is open to travel. Since pipeline projects pop up around the country, making yourself available where the demand is will ensure you earn higher wages. Some welders can find jobs making as much as $40 per hour if they’re accommodating to traveling.
Location. Where you live in the country will also impact your wages. For example, Alaska and North Carolina have the highest median wages for welders. These two states offer opportunities to many pipeline and rig projects, with relatively low costs of living.
Specialized welding. While it can take years to gain the experience required to make an underwater welder’s wage of approximately $300,000 per year, training in a specialized form of welding is sure to start you off at a higher salary. For instance, coded welders and sheet metal welders can make up to $53,000, on average, which is $12,000 higher than the national median starting salary for welders.
Another way to increase your salary as a welder is to move to parts of the country where there are not many welders or where there is an increased demand for welders. The more experience you get under your belt, the more higher-paying opportunities you’ll have available to you.
How to Find High-Paying Welder Jobs With Joblist
Finding welder jobs online is easier than ever with Joblist. We have access to the top companies and highest-paying job postings in the country. Joblist will help you find the jobs you’re most qualified for while weeding out the jobs that don’t fit your search criteria.
It’s easy to find welder jobs on Joblist from the top plants across the country. You can then narrow your search by location, pay, or additional criteria.
You can also use Joblist to search for more specialized welding jobs. We offer results for all the specialized welding positions listed below:
If you’re still in school or not yet fully qualified to become a welder, you can also search our welder helper positions. These jobs can provide you with valuable on-the-job training to help you learn the necessary skills you’ll need when you become a professional welder.
Our platform offers jobs that include travel, those that have set hours, seasonal opportunities, and even part-time or temporary positions for welders.
Use Joblist for All of Your Employment Needs
Whether you’re looking for a new job, searching for part-time or temporary work, or just wonder what else is out there — check out Joblist to receive personalized job descriptions and results from companies searching for your skills and qualifications!