Highest-Paying Welding Career Options
Welders apply heat to metal parts using hand-held or remote-controlled tools in order to cut, fill, and permanently join said parts. The average median pay for welders in general, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $39,390 in 2016 (the mean average was $42,450). Certain subfields in welding offer higher-than-average pay. We will discuss five of these welding career options below:
|Job Title||Median Annual Salary||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Pipe Welder||$58,998 (2017)**||4% (all welders)|
|Underwater Welder||$57,474 (commercial divers, 2017)**||37% (commercial divers)|
|Military Support Welder||$25 - $30 per hour (estimates from 2017)***||-2% (welders, government)|
|Pipeline Welder||$64,660 (mean salary for welders, pipeline oil transportation industry, 2016)*
$71,620 (mean salary for welders, natural gas distribution, 2016)*
|12% (welders, oil and gas extraction)
2% (welders, pipeline transportation)
|Certified Welding Supervisor||$61,897 (2017)**||4% (all welders)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com, ***USAJobs.gov
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Career Information for Welding Jobs that Pay Well
As a pipe welder, you will be responsible for joining and repairing metallic pipes across industries to ensure safety and functionality. Pipe welders work in construction, automotive manufacturing, nuclear energy, and shipbuilding, among other fields. Pipe welders earned a median average salary of $58,998 as of 2017, making this specialization among the most lucrative. To become a pipe welder, you will need to complete a welding training program as well as on-the-job training.
Underwater Welder/Commercial Diver
Underwater welders, also sometimes called commercial divers, are responsible for performing welding jobs while submerged under water. This naturally changes the nature of the job, as there are additional risks and more complexity when welding underwater. To become an underwater welder, you will need to complete a specialized training program to become certified in the specialty. Commercial divers made a median annual salary of $57,474 in 2017.
Military Support Welder
As a military support welder, you will likely work on a variety of different pieces of equipment. You are responsible for repairing, maintaining, and building all types of military equipment, from weapons to vehicles. Because of the potential dangers that come along with working in the military, this job often offers high compensation. As of 2017, you can earn around $30 an hour as a military support welder, though your earnings may increase the longer you are in the military. To become a military support welder, you will need a high school diploma and then will complete basic and specialized training in whatever branch of the military you join.
Pipe welders may work specifically in the specialized field of oil and gas transportation as pipeline welders. Pipelines often act as the transportation units for oil, natural gas, or other valuable liquids, and leaks can be disastrous (environmentally and financially). Welders in this field may travel for long periods of time, often in remote places. For example, a pipeline welder might work in the Middle East to help transport crude oil. Welders in the pipeline oil transportation industry earned a mean salary of $64,660 in 2016 and those in the natural gas distribution industry earned $71,620, both of which are significantly higher than the mean average salary of all welders ($42,450). To become a pipeline welder, you will need to complete a training program. You will also likely receive on-the-job training of some sort, and generally must be willing to travel extensively and perform remote work.
Certified Welding Supervisor
As a certified welding supervisor, you not only are skilled in the welding field, you also work in management and safety. Welding supervisors are in charge of overseeing other welders and ensuring welding projects stay on schedule and meet budget. They make sure welders are doing their jobs safely and to a high standard and work. They also collaborate with other managers on projects and work to reduce overall costs. To become a welding supervisor, you must be a welder with significant experience and leadership abilities and earn professional certification. Though a degree is not required, it may be helpful to demonstrate an ability to handle the business and leadership aspects of the position. These professionals made a median salary of $61,897 in 2017.