How To Become A Welder
Welders use machine equipment and hand-held tools to cut and join metal parts together. Welding is the most common method for joining metal pieces. It is a technique that uses extreme heat to fuse metal together. This process is used in all kinds of manufacturing, such as automobile, aviation, oil, and more. Welders receive their knowledge through on-the-job training. There are also online classes available and certification programs.
Why Become A Welder
Welders work in a wide variety of industries. Because their skills are transferable, they are easily able to find jobs in many kinds of industries. A welder can find a job in aviation, automotive, oil industry, electronics, shipbuilding, and more.
Welders study blueprints and specifications for their job. They ignite torches or other power supplies they will be using. They weld the metal pieces together, monitoring the job as they go to be sure everything is going according to plan. Sometimes welders work indoors. Other times they may be working outdoors, on buildings, bridges, or other types of infrastructure. Equipment and techniques vary by industry.
This is a good job for somebody that enjoys working with their hands, likes to build and create, and enjoys manual labor.
Welders should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Physical Strength
- Detail Oriented
- Manual Skills
- Technical Skills
- Not Afraid of Risk
Welder Work Environment
The vast majority of welders work within the manufacturing industry. Some may find jobs in maintenance, repair, contracting, or as self-employed workers. Welders spend their days working with a variety of equipment. They wear protective gear in order to prevent injury, since the work they do is often dangerous. Welders have a high risk of injury on the job do to the work that they do.
Welders may work either outdoors or indoors. Indoors they often work in a small space to contain the sparks from the welding job. Outside, they may be on a scaffolding high off the ground. This job often involves working alone. Welders must be highly observant because they are working with dangerous tools and they want to create their products according to plan, while also not injuring themselves.
The median annual wage for welders was $40,000 in 2017, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many welders get paid by wage, rather than salary. The median hourly wage for welders was $20 per hour in 2017. Most welders work full time. Overtime is very common in this industry. Those who work overtime will see an increased hourly wage.
Most welders will work either an eight or 12 hour shift each day. This allows the manufacturing plant to produce around the clock. Welders often work day shifts, night time shifts, and weekend shifts in order to meet production needs.
Average Welder Annual Salary
The average annual salary for welders is $43,410 a year. Salaries start at $27,460 a year and go up to $63,170 a year.
Average Welder Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a welder is $20.87. Hourly wages are between $13.20 and $30.37 an hour.
Stats were based out of 377,250 employed welders in the United States.
Highest Paying States For Welders
- 1. Alaska $31.54 / hr $65,610 / yr
- 2. District of Columbia $29.26 / hr $60,870 / yr
- 3. Wyoming $28.91 / hr $60,120 / yr
- 4. Hawaii $28.43 / hr $59,120 / yr
- 5. North Dakota $25.93 / hr $53,930 / yr
Top Paying Cities For Welders
- 1. Santa Maria, CA $37.42 / hr$77,830 / yr
- 2. Fairbanks, AK $34.53 / hr$71,820 / yr
- 3. Anchorage, AK $34.40 / hr$71,560 / yr
- 4. Kahului, HI $34.33 / hr$71,400 / yr
- 5. San Francisco, CA $34.17 / hr$71,070 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Welder Career Outlook
Employment of welders is projected to grow by 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about as fast as most other occupations in the United States. Overall, this will account for 23,000 new jobs in this field over the next 10 years. Those looking for a career in this field will likely be able to find one.
Welding is an important and versatile part of the manufacturing industry. Welders are easily able to move across industries, depending on which area they would like to find a job in, or which area they are needed in most. Their welding skills are highly transferable, and this is what makes welding a great career. A person who has a history of welding in the automotive industry can later find jobs in aviation, electronics, oil, and more.
A welder must have a high school diploma, or a GED. If a person has an interest in becoming a welder, they are typically hired and receive on-the-job training through their employer. Some high schools offer shop classes, metal working, welding, woodworking, mechanical drawing, physics, mathematics, chemistry, and other courses which will be helpful for anybody wanting to enter this field.
Certification can help a person stand out in their field. Certification helps distinguish a person as being highly knowledgeable and may help them earn a job or get promoted or earn a higher wage. The American Welding Society offers a certified welder designation for those interested.
Some organizations, such as the American Welding Society, offer online courses that you may take in order to gain further knowledge in the field. These courses can contribute towards certification in welding. Below we have outlined some available courses to take in welding.
Fundamentals of Welding: This course introduces the basic science and applications of welding practices. Students learn welding terminology, welding design, welding safety, electrical theory, weld-ability of metals, welding quality control, and more. Students learn about different welding techniques, including resistance welding, plasma arc welding, electron beam welding, laser beam welding, cutting and drilling. Students learn about science and equipment involved in welding. They learn about safety precautions. They learn about the advantages and disadvantages involved in each process.
Metallurgy: This course covers the nature of metals and the properties that affect weldability of certain metals. Students will learn about metallurgical phenomena involved in welding, and the effects of these properties on welded materials. Topics include characteristics of atoms, periodic table, chemical bonds, reactivity, structures of materials at the atomic level, and properties of metals.
Welding Safety: Students learn about the basics for staying safe in this dangerous profession. They cover hazards, safety equipment, ventilation, how to weld in confined spaces, safety precautions, and more.
Welder Career Path
Welding is a great career that offers many opportunities for growth. Because welding is used in many different industries, welders have the ability to advance in many fields. Below we have outlined some of the ways welders can advance in their field.
|Welding Instructor||A welding instructor teaches student welders how to perform various welding tasks and techniques.||Their responsibilities include overseeing a class of student welders. They teach classes on a variety of subjects to help those beginning their career in the field of welding become more knowledgeable. They teach a variety of different courses, through hands-on work and lectures.||Welding instructors have the most education of anybody in their field, because they are in a position to train future welders. They have a degree in welding technology, as well as several years of welding experience. They also have a welding certification.||This is a great position for somebody who has been involved in welding for several years, feels like they are very knowledgeable about the field, enjoys teaching, and wants to share their knowledge with others.|
|Underwater Welder||An underwater welder is responsible for taking on welding jobs that occur in an underwater environment. This is listed as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.||Their responsibilities include welding underwater pipelines, offshore drilling rigs, ships, submarines, nuclear power plants, dams, and more.||Welders must have had on-the-job-training and certification. They must also have additional certifications, such as SCUBA diving, and a certification in underwater welding itself.||This is a highly challenging career. Underwater welders travel all over the world to perform different welding tasks. Because of their additional certifications, they usually earn a much higher salary.|
Related Welder Careers
Welding is a great vocational career, with many opportunities for flexibility in the industry. If you enjoy hands-on work, there are many other technical careers that you may enjoy. Below we have listed some similar careers.
Boilermakers: Boilermakers assemble, install and repair boilers, as well as other large vessels that contain liquids and gases.
Machinists: Machinists operate a variety of equipment, both hand-powered and computer-controlled, which produce metal parts, instruments and tools in the manufacturing industry.
Sheet metal workers: These workers install and create various products made from metal sheets, such as ducts found in home heating and air conditioning systems.