Welding plays a big role in Americans’ everyday lives. Bridges, ships, computers, cell phones, oil rigs, and medical devices are all produced with welding. In fact, more than half of U.S. products require the process. Unfortunately, there may not be enough welders to help make these essential goods in the near future. The industry will need more qualified welders. Will you be one of them? See where a welding job could take you.
Are Welding Jobs in Demand?
Currently, the U.S. is facing a skilled labor shortage. Tradespeople are retiring faster than newly trained workers can replace them. Plus, an emphasis in high school on university has steered many young people toward four-year degrees, further widening the skills gap.
Today, the welding industry employs 397,900 people. Ninety-seven percent of them are men and three percent are women—though the number of women in skilled trades like welding has been increasing in recent years. Job growth is projected to be four percent through 2024, but some sectors will expand faster than others: nine percent for Ironworkers and twenty-three percent for Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers.
The average age of a welder is 55, and by 2025, the American Welding Society predicts the country will face a shortage of 400,000 welding operators.
Is Welding a Good Career Choice?
It’s clear that the welding industry will need qualified workers in the coming years, but is welding a good career? Check out some of the perks below.
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Studies have shown that jobs working with your hands can be highly rewarding because it satisfies an innate need to create things. Welders can take pride in working on a project like a skyscraper from start to finish.
There are numerous welding careers to choose from, with jobs available in the construction, petroleum, automobile, shipping, military, and a host of other industries.
Traveling Welding Jobs
Welders have opportunities to travel for their work, as welding is needed all over the world. A traveling welder might work for the military, a shipbuilding company, or deep under the sea for the oil and gas industry.
Workers can climb the career ladder with experience, additional training, and welding certifications.
Innovation is integral to industries that rely on welding, such as manufacturing. Welders often work with the latest equipment and advanced tools.
The welding industry is set to have four percent more jobs by 2024, but some sectors will expand by as much as twenty-three percent.
What Types of Welding Careers Are There?
Where are the welding jobs? What welding jobs pay the most? These are common questions when considering a new career. Following are some of the welding career paths and pay scales welders can choose from.
Professional Welder (TIG, MIG, SMAW)
Individuals equipped in shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), metal inert gas welding (MIG), and tungsten inert gas welding (TIG) can find jobs in the petroleum, construction, and manufacturing industries. Some even use these skills to pursue careers as artists.
- Minimum salary: $28,462
- Maximum salary: $65,482
- Minimum salary: $24,793
- Maximum salary: $51,272
- Minimum salary: $28,287
- Maximum salary: $72,201
A structural welder fuses the steel, beams, and other metal framework for buildings and bridges. Similar to a professional welder, a structural welder can find work at construction, shipbuilding, manufacturing, aerospace, and a variety of other types of companies.
- Minimum salary: $33,118
- Maximum salary: $58,625
Pipe & Pipeline Welder
As the name suggests, pipe and pipeline welders work with pipes. Pipefitters, for example, ply their trade in nuclear power plants, manufacturing factories, and oil and gas facilities. Some even work in the brewing and beverage industries.
- Minimum salary: $36,010
- Maximum salary: $104,598
Traveling Pipe Welder
- Minimum salary: $50,000
- Maximum salary: $185,000
Senior Aircraft Welder
Welding has long played an integral role in the aircraft and aerospace fields. Delta, Southwest, United, and even NASA rely on welders to construct and maintain everything from jetliners to rockets.
- Minimum salary: $67,000
- Maximum salary: $72,000
Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)
Who makes sure that welders are qualified for their positions and that their work is safe and up to code? A certified welding inspector does. These professionals often hold advanced welding certifications.
- Minimum salary: $41,340
- Maximum salary: $109,206
Where Are the Welding Jobs?
What kinds of companies employ welders? Since welding training is a popular route to this profession, some welding schools partner with welding companies to help place their students in jobs once they graduate. For example, the largest welding school in the U.S., Tulsa Welding School, works with the following welding companies.
A publically traded company, Miller Industries Inc. produces multi-vehicle transporters; small, medium, and large wreckers; and commercial and industrial carriers. Miller Industries’ 1,000 employees work at its operations in France, England, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Creating high-quality, innovative solutions for customers is Miller Industries’ mission.
One of North America’s largest manufacturers of wind towers, Marmen Energy is a family-run firm offering personalized services and exceptionally large facilities equipped with the latest technology. Marmen Energy welcomes complex and new projects that serve to further the growth and development of the wind industry.
Based in Liebherr, Switzerland, Liebherr Group manufactures cranes, excavators, refrigerators, and other large equipment. Employing over 41,000 people globally, Liebherr is committed to making day-to-day life easy and efficient for workers and companies across the world.
How to Start a Welding Career?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that a combination of a high school diploma, technical training, and on-the-job training is the typical route to becoming a welder. 1 Individuals can find technical training at community colleges and trade schools. Community colleges tend to take longer and require classes in general education, while trade schools offer shorter more focused training programs.
1 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm#tab-4