How much do welders make? Average Welder Salary

What is the average welder salary? No matter if you are a welder or would like to become one, it is essential for you to know how much welders make annually.

There are rumors that some welders make $150,000 and more annually, but for sure this is not the average welder salary.

Thus we did a deep-dive into statistics and summarized all available data on welding wages below.

National average pay

Please see an interactive graphic on the average welder salary in the USA below.

According to the United States Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay 2016 was $39,390 per year.

As you can see, there are some welders that make up to $200,000 and more annually. These are probably very specialized, experienced and skilled welders. But most welders make much less.

Graphic: Welding, soldering & brazing workers average salary in 2015 (red bars) compared to overall USA labor salary (all job types, grey bars).

Data Source: ACS PUMS 1-year Estimate, Census Bureau

If you wonder, how much does a welder make per hour in average: In 2016 it was around $18.94.

Moreover, in 2016 there were 404800 people associated with welding doing their job in the United States of America.

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Welding salaries by Industry

Highest paying industry according to the annual mean wage is the electric power generation transmission and distribution industry with an annual mean wage of $76,600. Followed closely by the natural gas distribution industry with an annual salary of $76,360 [1]. Please see the graphic below for further reference:

Annual welder salary

Annual welder salary

Welder salaries also depend where your welding site is located:

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Welding salaries by state

You receive highest welding pay in the state of Alaska with approximately USD $70,658 (closely followed by Hawaii).

If you are looking for a great hourly salary overview state by state, then you should take a look at the article by Economicmodeling.com.

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Highest paying welding jobs

Highest paying welding jobs are welding jobs that cannot be done by unskilled workers. These jobs are difficult and often also dangerous. High paying jobs require experienced and trained workers that can handle demanding environment situations (rough weather).

Many of the high paying welding jobs require special certified welders. Certifications must be renewed regularly.

You can count the following jobs to the highest paying welding jobs:

Underwater welder salary

Underwater-welding is crazy dangerous but can be insanely profitable.

You need a lot of training and experience before you can start with weld jobs underwater. Welding school is expensive, too.

There are two different welding methods to weld underwater: Dry welding and wet welding. Wet welding is very dangerous because you are submerged underwater and weld with waterproof electrodes that provide a current up to 400 amps of power. Thus an electrical shock could happen anytime if you make a mistake.

Payscale notes, that the median welder salary for underwater welders is around $72,500 (Source).

According to the American Welding Society AWS here, underwater welders can make up to $200,000.

Military support welder pay rate

Military support welders need to repair or construct military equipment. Utilities that you need to weld ranges from weapons, vehicles (cars, submarines, tanks…) to camp construction works.

Your place of work can be either in the USA or anywhere with the armed forces abroad. Of course, you will make more when you are working in dangerous places during military operations abroad.

According to Gowelding.org, US army welders can start at $160,000 up to $200,000 in the Middle East.

Industrial pipe welder earnings

Industrial pipe welders weld pipes for oil and gas or chemical transportation. Thus they need to have special certifications, any mistake can have very big consequences on the environment.

Welding in places like Alaska or North Dakota is not easy either. Payscale says, industrial pipeline welders make something between $36,050 – $103,800 (Source).

Nuclear power plant welder salary

Most weld work in nuclear power plants is time critical. Moreover, stainless steel is the most used metal in nuclear power plants. Often, nuclear power plant welders need also to be skilled underwater welders to weld underwater or to inspect weld seams underwater.

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Welder salaries by job type

In general, statistics data is classified in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Weld workers belong to the large group of SOC 51-4121 Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers. All data is collected among this occupational group.

In general, welders use their welding equipment and weld different types of metals like aluminum, steel or stainless steel. But salaries highly depend also on the job type.

Job types for welders can be

  • Underwater welder
  • Machine welder
  • Robot laser welder
  • Pipeline welder
  • Aircraft welder
  • Cable welder
  • Tool/die welder
  • Production welder
  • Offshore / oil rig welder
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Common career paths for welder

Many welders don’t weld until they retire. In the following chart, you can see typical career paths for professional welder.

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Required skills

Typically welders have a high school diploma or similar degree.

Welders must know how to MIG, TIG or Stick weld. Typical tasks are also grinding, hammering and using a welding plier.

Welders need experience and know how to make a good weld seam and how to inspect it. Of course, welders need to read blue prints. Moreover, welding can be dangerous. Thus a welder needs to know safety rules and to work according to industry standards.

Some jobs require special certificates the welder must provide. Certificates can be obtained at welding schools.

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Companies that hire welders

Below you will find a list of companies that hire welders regularly.

  • General Electric Co (GE)
  • Caterpillar Inc.
  • Huntington Ingalls Industries
  • FreightCar America
  • General Dynamics Electric Boat
  • Great Dane Trailers LLC
  • BAE Systems Inc.

 

Sources

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm (visited March 24, 2018).

Image Credits: Pixabay

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