While both welders and electricians may pursue training and certification from vocational-technical schools or community colleges, most states require that electricians possess a license, whereas there are no such mandates for welders. Salaries for both welders and electricians all vary depending on the industry in which they work.
The average salary for welders in the United States was $37,370 as of May 2010, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries ranged from less than $23,940 in the 10th percentile to over $53,690 in the 90th percentile. In comparison, electricians earned more at an average of $51,810, with wages ranging from less than $29,400 to over $80,890.
The largest industry for welders was architectural and structural metals manufacturing as of 2010, where the bureau reports a salary average of $34,000 a year. Those working in agriculture, construction and mining machinery manufacturing earned an average of $36,220, and those working in commercial and industrial machinery and equipment repair and maintenance earned an average of $36,480. Electricians working for building equipment contractors earned an average salary of $51,550 a year, while those employed by local governments earned an average of $55,480 and those in the industry of employment services earned an average of $44,270. The top-paying industry for welders was spectators sports, with a salary average of $64,690, and the highest wages for electricians were found in the industry of accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services at an average of $76,780 a year.
For welders, Alaska was the highest-paying state as of 2010, with a salary average of $66,260 a year, reports the bureau. Hawaii ranked second with an average of $53,910, and Wyoming ranked third with an average of $49,490. Alaska was also the highest-paying state for electricians, with a salary average of $69,010, but Illinois followed with a salary average of $68,430. Hawaii came in third, offering a salary average of $67,990 a year for electricians.
In addition to higher salaries, electricians also enjoy a more positive job outlook than welders. According to the bureau, electricians will see a 12 percent increase in job opportunities between 2008 and 2018 due to a growing population that requires more buildings and homes, which must be wired for electricity. Welders will see only a 2 percent increase in growth largely because of the continued automation of the welding process.