A career as a welder offers opportunities for specialization and good pay with the creative element of the work being an added bonus. For those who prefer a career that is hands on and requires a specific skillset, a career in welding may be the perfect fit. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welders earn an annual median income of $47,101.
The BLS also reported that 10 percent of welders earned more than $63,660 and ten percent earned less than $31,350. The BLS information for welders was last updated in May 2021 but it does not tell the whole story as it relates to the earning potential of a welder. There are welders in specialty fields who can earn $200,000 or more! Salaries vary from state to state with the pay scale varying according to the type of welding specialty and whether the welder is certified.
Beginner and Novice Welder Jobs: Entry Level Positions
Entry-level welding jobs for beginners and novices generally require a high school diploma or equivalent. Although many companies offer on-the-job training, most prefer beginning welders to have some basic welding training. It is a big plus if you have completed a technical education program at a community college.
The BLS states that high school or junior college courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, and mechanical drawing are helpful. Some states require welders to be licensed and many employers require welders to obtain certification.
Welding Teacher / Instructor
A career as a welding teacher or instructor has the benefits of regular hours, no travel required, and a good salary. The median salary for welding instructors in Arizona is $56,044 with a range from $49,839 to $64,007. The actual pay depends on the geographical location, education, and certification of the instructor.
What Are the Highest Paid Welding Careers and What Certifications and Experience is required?
Industrial and structural construction. The highest paid welding careers are in industrial construction where welders can earn $200,000 a year or even more. The jobs include combo welders, pipe welders, rig welders and welders who help build buildings and bridges.
These jobs all require special training and most require certification. Oftentimes, you may be required to work long hours and even travel. You may spend 30 days at a time away from home and at a job site. The job has good pay rates to begin with. Add to that, per diem rates and overtime pay and you may find yourself earning a six-figure salary.
Many of these high-paying jobs are on the gulf coast in the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. This is where you find industries like power plants, paper mills, oil fields, pipelines, and more. Others may be in your own hometown and require no travel.
- How to become an industrial construction or structural welder. The basic requirements for welding jobs apply. You must have a high school diploma or equivalent. You may find a position for on-the-job training, however your chances of securing the best job improves greatly if you obtain certification.
Underwater welder. Underwater welders are a subgroup of industrial construction welders. They build, repair, maintain, and replace pipes for oil and gas companies. They are lowered into the water by a specially operated chamber. An underwater welder often earns around $120 an hour but be aware this is considered a very dangerous profession. This is due to the uncontrollable nature of the elements as well as risks for explosions.
- How to become an underwater welder. An underwater welder must have two to five years of experience as a welder doing work on land. You must be a certified welder as well as being certified as a commercial diver, which requires you to pass a physical exam.
Aerospace welder. Aerospace welders work on aircraft, spacecraft and anything to do with the aerospace industry. Annual salaries are about the same as in other welding specialties and you can earn around $100,000 a year.
- How to become an aerospace welder. This niche welding career requires three years of welding experience and either an Associate’s degree or completion of a welding program at a technical or vocational school. Certification through the American Welding Society may be required.
Arizona’s Leader in Welding Supplies Also Offers Welding Classes
At Vern Lewis Welding Supply, we have eight locations throughout the state of Arizona. Each location maintains a complete supply of products you need for your welding project. Our team of professionals can help you choose the proper tools and answer any welding questions you may have.
We also have a state-of-the-art training facility where we offer basic welding classes for all types of welding techniques. We teach theory and safety with hands-on instruction that can help you develop confidence in your welding skills. Sign up for our welding classes online today!