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How Much Do Welders Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Earn a Livable Wage While You Work With Your Hands

If you love to work with your hands and feel accomplished when you fix something or complete a project, a career as a welder could be an ideal fit for you. Welders use a variety of techniques to join two pieces of metal together. They work in a variety of settings, and the hours are generally dependable, which is ideal when raising a family. Pay is typically a livable wage or above. Benefits vary from position to position, but many large construction companies and manufacturers offer full benefits that help with peace of mind and stability.

Job Description

Welders use their own knowledge or consult blueprints to determine the best way to join two pieces of metal. Arc welding is the most common type of welding, but hundreds of varieties exist. Welders wear protective gear to shield them from light and heat and often need to lift heavy machines or work from a variety of uncomfortable positions to reach the materials they need to weld. Many welders work outside in all weather, so tolerance for a variety of work conditions is helpful. Once welds are made, the welder ensures that the quality of the weld meets specifications for performance and safety. Teamwork is common, often with general construction workers, mechanics, engineers and contractors. Hours are dependable, and overtime is often available, a plus when you are supporting a growing family.

Education Requirements

Some employers offer on-the-job training, but most prefer candidates who have already completed a formal training program. Some high schools offer welding programs, but training is often sought through vocational or community colleges. Instruction is also available through specialized welding schools or from the U.S. Armed Forces. An understanding of metals, mathematics, blueprints, science and mechanical drawing is also helpful for success in the field.

The median annual salary for welders, cutters, solderers or brazers is $39,390, which means that half earn more than this, and the other half earns less. The top 10 percent earns more than $62,100, while the bottom 10 percent earns less than $26,800. Those who work for specialty trade contractors earn a slightly higher median salary, at $42,900 per year.

About the Industry

Welders work in a variety of environments under varying conditions. Some work in manufacturing environments, while others are in machine shops, working high on scaffolding in construction zones or in small, enclosed spaces. Shift work is common, which may range from daytime to overnight or weekend hours. Dependable child care helps relieve the stress if your employer requires rotating shifts. Those who work 12-hour shifts may enjoy a four-day workweek instead of a five-day week, which is convenient when you want more time to spend with family.

Years of Experience

Most welders report high levels of job satisfaction, and while pay varies by employer, it also tends to increase over time. One projection looks like this:

  • Entry-Level: $25,294–$55,561
  • Mid-Career: $29,522–$65,839
  • Late-Career: $32,226–$78,676

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers are expected to increase by 6 percent over the next decade, which is about as fast as in other industries. This growth is explained by the demand for welders in a variety of industries, including construction, automobile manufacturing, oil and more. When one of these industries is not doing well, another industry is usually thriving, which increases the chances for employment. Candidates with current training in the field are most likely to land a job, so enroll in refresher courses from time to time to keep your edge.