It’s a widely held misconception that blue-collar workers earn small salaries compared to business professionals.
Yes, white-collar workers go to work each day in an air-conditioned office dressed in a smart suit.
That doesn’t mean to say, however, that they earn more money.
Not all welding jobs you see will bring in huge salaries, particularly those at entry level, but the more experience and qualifications you gain, the better the chances of making a very good living from welding .
Welding is a big business.
Look around you: it’s part of most things you touch and see each day, like cars, bikes, and buildings.
There are so many opportunities to get into a welding career, so let us show you what you need to do to start making money as a welder.
How to Get Certified as a Welder?
Gaining a certificate in welding involves a series of tests based on welding procedures. You’ll be graded on how well you follow the written guidelines to execute procedures.
On a personal level, there are certain qualities you will need to have.
You have to be both physically and mentally fit. Working as a welder can mean that you have to handle some hefty pieces of material.
You’ll also need to be able to concentrate on tasks that are lengthy and repetitive.
Welding is a hands-on job, which requires a level of precision, so it’s not a career for anyone who is clumsy or has difficulty with hand-eye coordination.
If you’ve made the decision that you’d like to make a living from welding, there are several steps to becoming qualified and pursuing a successful career. These are listed below.
Where Do You Start?
Do your research about what courses are available in your area. Check out community colleges or vocational programs for adults.
If you don’t have any welding experience at all, you need to do an introductory level course.
Good courses will often include help in finding work placement. You could also take a look at the AWS (American Welding Society), they have a database of all welding schools.
There are a few private welding schools that you can opt for, which include:
You can also check out the AWS for scholarships.
In many areas, there is a shortage of welders so there are lots of companies and unions who will provide scholarships.
They offer these to attract more people into the industry.
If you are young enough, look to see if there are any apprenticeships on offer, with local companies.
These are the most reliable channels to help you get a foot in the industry door.
Welding is manual work and it’s not possible to learn how to do it just by reading a book. Once you have found a course you think is right for you, get enrolled.
You need to learn the basics and to find out about the safety aspects and the actual mechanics of the job before anything else. Then you can start practicing to improve your skills.
Try to find an experienced welder who is willing to give you some advice and tips. They may even let you practice with them and show you how things work. The most important thing is that you get in lots of training.
Types of Welding
I would advise you to learn about the different types of welding available before deciding on which is the one for you.
You need to understand what these different techniques are, how they vary, and what industries or jobs they are used in.
This is metal inert gas welding.
It is most commonly used with steel, aluminum and stainless steel (but not corten steel ) (but not corten steel ). This type of welding uses a continuously feeding spool of welding wire, which fuses the metals together.
Tungsten inert gas welding requires the use of clean metal and is a slow process. Using this type of welding generally produces high quality welds.
TIG welding uses rods rather than a continuous wire. It is suitable for just about all metals, including thinner gauge materials.
This welding is highly skilled and more time consuming. It is often used in architectural fabrication workshops.
This is sometimes referred to as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW).
Stick welding is low cost and easy to use: this makes it a popular type of welding. It‘s often used for home projects and also in the construction industry.
There are many other types of welding, usually suited to specific work, such as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW).
This method is far more specialized and is widely used in the construction of space vehicles. At the other end of the spectrum, this method is also used in the bicycle industry.
In some states, companies may use experienced welders who don’t hold a certificate.
This is rare, and unless you have a good reputation and lots of experience, it is highly unlikely.
When you think you have had enough practice and know all the basics, now is the time to book a test.
You may need to take the AWS, GMAW or MIG 3G. Passing these will give you your qualification as a certified welder.
Certain jobs you apply for may require other certifications too, so make sure you have all that you need.
You are usually told on the same day if you have passed. If you fail, re-book another test and head straight off to get more practice in the areas where you failed.
You must maintain your certificate once you have achieved it. Every six months you will need to submit documents to AWS.
This includes a form that is signed by your current employer, which verifies that you continue to actively work as a welder.
Learn about the different types of jobs a welder can undertake.
There are many career paths you can take as a welder, but you need to choose one that suits your specific skill set.
Below is just a tiny example of the type of career path you could take.
This is the starting point once you have your qualification. If you are employed in any job as a welder, then you are going to be welding pieces of metal together.
If nothing else, this will give you an income, keep you in practice and maintain your certification while you study further, or until a better opportunity presents itself.
If you want to become a welding engineer, then you will probably need a degree, or even an advanced degree.
You will be in a position where you are overseeing other welders and managing projects. You will also, most likely, need experience in using CAD (computer aided design).
To be an instructor, you will have to pass the AWS Certified Welding Instructor exam. Before you even consider this, you’ll need a few years of experience under your belt first.
This is something you could consider working towards in the future. It would be an ideal career move when you become older and want to do less physically demanding work.
To become an inspector, you will be required to complete all the relevant requirements through AWS.
You may need several years of work experience—the number of years depends on your level of education. These are all necessary before taking the exam to gain your certification.
Which Industries Need Welders?
There are many industries where welding is used, and for some, it is a vital part of what they do. Here are some industries where welders play essential roles.
In the world of construction, there are many opportunities for a welder. This could be on either commercial or residential buildings. Without welders, many of these constructions could not be completed.
Here are some other examples of where welders are employed in construction:
The jobs could include taking some risks. You may also need to work high up on platforms when welding on bridges and constructing buildings. For this reason, it’s not a job for anyone with a fear of heights.
There are many areas in manufacturing where a welder is needed. Any product that is crafted from metal will, most likely, need some kind of welding.
A few examples are:
To manufacture their products, these industries use various types of machinery. The machines will often need repairs.
Plus, of course, welders will also be helping to build the actual products, when it comes to automobiles and ships, for example.
Oil And Gas Companies
The supply of oil and gas is huge, not only in the States, but also worldwide. To transport oil and gas, pipelines are needed, and that’s where welders come in.
You could be sent to various destinations around the world to work. Some could be remote, or even dangerous.
There is also work that needs to be completed underwater.
Specialized underwater welders are needed for this.
There are many oil rigs where welders are employed. Just like other rig workers, they live and work on the platforms for extended periods of time.
Welders are needed for numerous other industries too. Their skills are used to help complete many tasks that we often wouldn’t even consider.
Welders are employed by the military. They work on bases or go on missions. They are needed to maintain weapons, vehicles, and facilities.
Some industrial plants perform temporary shutdowns, which can last weeks or months. They do this so that inspections and maintenance work, including welding, can be carried out. This keeps the plants running effectively during the rest of the year.
The motorsports industry has welders as part of their pit crew. They play a vital role in maintaining and customizing vehicles for better performance.
Cruise and cargo ships use welders as part of their team. They travel with the ships so that any repairs can then be done without disrupting the journey.
Is Welding a Good Industry to Get Into?
Surveys show that the average age of welders, at present, is 56 years old. These workers will soon be ready to retire, meaning that the demand for welders, which is already high, will likely increase by the year 2020.
As you can see, it is very much a flourishing industry. With demand being so high, it is an ideal career choice.
Average Salary of a Welder
The salary of a welder will vary, depending on a few things.
The State you work in could affect your level of pay, as could the sector for which you work.
Some of the more specialized areas, where risks are high, will pay more. These are jobs such as underwater or military welders.
Pay rates also differ depending on whether you work at home or if you travel. One thing many companies do offer welders is bonuses, which can give you quite a boost in your salary.
The average salary for a welder is currently around $18 per hour, giving them around $38,000 per year.
Those who are at an entry-level will, obviously, earn less than those with more experience. Specialized welders will be the highest earners.
Welders who travel for work are usually the ones who earn the highest salaries. Earnings could even be in the region of $160,000 each year.
These welders are away from home for long periods of time, and often exposed to dangers, which is why the rates are so high.
You could consider setting up your own business and working as a freelance welder. You can then take on as much work as you want.
Your earning potential is only dictated by the amount of work you can obtain, or are willing to do.
You need to think carefully about the career path you want to take as a welder; there are many options to choose from.
Once you have your certification, doors will open for you. Decide whether you want to work close to home or travel the world.
Welders are in high demand and this need is predicted to rise in the future. Becoming qualified as a welder could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.