Welders work on different types of metal parts and products, using tools that help fix flaws in the metal or join separate components together. The highest paying welding jobs involve working in difficult circumstances within industries that feature a significant demand for welders.
Top Welding Pay by Industry
Welders who work for electric power generation, transmission and distribution companies earn the most out of all welders, with an average mean wage of $69,120 per year, according to 2014 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The next best paying jobs are in the natural gas industry, paying a mean of $68,420 annually. Welding jobs with pipeline companies transporting crude oil pay a mean of $61,980 per year.
The fourth and fifth best paying welding jobs are with the postal service and manufacturers of resin, synthetic rubber and other artificial materials, both of which pay a mean of $57,990 per year, notes the BLS.
Top Welding Pay By State
Alaska pays welders the most out of all the states, according to the BLS, with a mean wage of $71,910 per year, which works out to $34.57 per hour. The next highest paying state is Hawaii, which pays welders a mean of $59,120 yearly, or $28.42 per hour.
The District of Columbia pays $57,390 per year, or $27.59 per hour, while Wyoming has a mean wage of $52,980 yearly, which is $25.47 hourly. North Dakota is the fifth highest paying state for welders, with a mean wage of $50,310 per year, or $24.19 per hour.
High Paying Welding Occupations
A 2014 article in The Wall Street Journal notes that due to a spike in available manufacturing work on oil and gas pipelines, some pipe welders operating in shale fossil fuel reserves make up to $200,000 per year.
Another type of welding occupation that results in higher pay involves welding while underwater. The mean salary for underwater welders is $51,070 per year, while the mean for all welders as a whole is $40,040 per year. The mean pay for the top 10 percent of underwater welding earners is $84,370 annually, much higher than the top 10 percent of all welders at $58,590 per year, according to the BLS.
Earning Better Pay
Owning your own welding equipment helps boost the amount of pay you receive from employers, allowing you to make up to $70 per hour, notes a 2012 article on the Bloomberg Business website. Training that boosts your skill set, such as vocational schools, industry certifications and occupational training like SCUBA diving schools, can all help to increase your pay ceiling by opening up opportunities in welding occupations that have significant demand for workers.
The amount of pay you receive as a welder also depends on your skill level, experience and the location of the job. For example, remote job sites such as offshore oil rigs pay more than welding jobs on land, notes the website Water Welders.