Growth Trends for Related Jobs
The Average Salary of an Entry Level Welder in the Union
Welding apprentices in the United Association union enter a five-year program to learn welding skills. They learn how to bond metals using a variety of processes and materials. The starting wage for an apprentice in the UA is typically close to the average for all welders in the United States.
The average salary for a welder in the United States was $37,370 per year or $17.96 per hour as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 10th percentile made up to $23,940 per year or $11.51 per hour. The 25th percentile made up to $28,840 per year or $13.87 per hour. The median annual salary was $35,450 per year or $17.04 per hour. The 75th percentile earned up to $43,700 per year or $21.01 per hour. The 90th percentile made at least $53,690 per year or $25.82 per hour.
First-year welding apprentices rates vary by location. First-year apprentices in the Rochester, New York, area earn 40 percent of journeyman rates, or $12.40 per hour as of July 1, 2011, to April 30, 2012, for example, according to the local UA union's website. Every six months, apprentices are eligible for raises. Second-year apprentices earn $15.50 per hour, and third-year apprentices earn $18.29 per hour. Fourth-year apprentices earn $20.46 per hour. Fifth-year apprentices earn $23.25 per hour or 75 percent of journeyman wages of $31 per hour. The salary of a first-year apprentice for the union in western Washington is $18.44 as of August 2011, and the journeyman rate is $36.87 per hour, according to the area's UA union website. First-year Gardena, California, welding apprentices in the union earn $17.95 per hour as of August 2011, and the journeyman rate is $35.89 per hour, according to Gardena's UA website.
Apprentices are also typically eligible for medical benefits and can start contributing to their pensions. They must work a certain number of hours to be eligible for benefits in most cases. For example, in the union in western Washington, apprentices must work at least 140 hours to be eligible for the medical plan, which enables them to earn $8.50 per hour for time they take off for ill health. First-year apprentices in the Rochester, New York, union can start contributing to their pensions in their second year, and they are eligible for some insurance benefits their first year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job outlook for welders to experience little or no change over the 2008 to 2018 decade. Skilled welders can expect to find positions, however.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Workers; December 2009
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Employment & Wages – May 2010 – Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers; May 2011
- Local 13 Plumbers and Fitters; Apprenticeship; 2007
- United Association Local Union 250: Apprenticeship Information – Steamfitter
Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.