How to Become a Successful Welder and Land the Best Welding Jobs in Your Industry
No matter if you have your eye on the construction industry with plenty of MIG welding jobs, or automotive, aerospace, even jewelry-making, welders are in high demand. This profession is a perfect choice for people who like hands-on work, and the freedom to diversify through various industries.
The increase in available welding jobs makes the profession all the more appealing. It provides security, financial stability, and plenty of advancement opportunities. As a welder, you can work your way up to become a welding inspector, or a welding supervisor perhaps.
Research shows that despite the pandemic, we can only expect more welder jobs to come - with a steady growth rate expected for the next several years.
To get the highest paying welding jobs, however, you need to have the right education, training, and certification. Proper credentials can help you impress potential employers and not to mention develop your career in the right direction.
#Look into Different Welding Jobs
Due to its versatile nature, you can choose from a wide array of options to get into welding. These welding positions are needed across numerous industries, and many have overlaps that let you get diverse experience over time. Each welder job description covers unique responsibilities and required skills.
The goal is to find a specialty that you want to pursue, or expand your skills in order to get more work options. Learning about the different job requirements can also help you narrow down what kind of education you should aim for.
Keep in mind that the listed options sometimes require different qualifications, and employers retain the right to ask for specific certifications and level of experience when hiring.
This is a great starting point to enter welding. Welder helper jobs are considered the best entry level welding jobs that provide plenty of practical experience and supervision from a certified welder.
Average salary: Welder helpers in the US can expect to make around $31,853, or $15.31 per hour.
Although being a welding helper doesn’t require any formal training or experience, becoming a welding apprentice does. You’ll need at least a basic welding course to get started in an apprentice program and apply for welding apprentice jobs.
Average salary: Your welder apprentice salary can be around $49,384 per year, or $23.74 per hour.
Welding Fabricators and Assemblers
Putting together ships, buildings, computers, cars, you name it - welding fabricators are needed for the job.
As general as this occupation may seem, each industry requires position-specific skills in addition to the fundamentals such as cutting, welding, bending, fitting, and installing the fabricated structures.
Average salary: Approximately $38,307 per year, with the hourly rate being $18.
Pipe Welders or Pipefitters
Sometimes referred to as steamfitters and gasfitters as well, pipefitters and pipe welders work on setting up entire pipelines that serve different purposes.
Average salary: A typical pipe welder salary can be around $49,594, or close to $24 per hour.
Such pipelines can transport water, chemicals, gas, fuel, and the like. In addition to assembling pipelines through a range of welding processes and tools, pipefitters also work in maintenance and repair roles.
Responsible for setting up, repairing, and maintaining structures such as boilers, pressure vessels, and tanks, boilermakers can build and repair everything from locomotives, bridges, to furnaces.
Average salary: Annually, a boilermaker’s welding salary can be $62,357, or $30 per hour.
Robotics Welders and Technicians
Even though many processes in robotics are conducted by the robots themselves, welders are still needed, both for controlling the robotics equipment and for fabricating it.
Depending on your skillset, you can be in charge of programming the robots, repairing and troubleshooting them, or welding the parts necessary to assemble robotics equipment.
Average salary: As a welder in robotics, you can expect to earn around $48,395 per year, or $23 per hour.
This might be a dream job for those who love diving and working with their hands. Underwater welding jobs may be done in open water environments (also called wet welding), or in hyperbaric chambers (for dry welding).
The skills underwater welders have are often needed for on-shore projects, too, on rivers and lakes. From shipbuilding and repair to dam building and maintenance, underwater welding jobs abound.
Average salary: Global statistics show that the average underwater welder salary can range from $25,000 to $80,000 per year (the hourly average being $25.96), while some of the highest paying welding jobs can bring you in excess of $300,000 annually. These jobs also come with higher bonuses since the travelling welder salary is often higher than average.
Metal Inert Gas welding is a common welding process used for welding thick and large metals. That makes MIG welding jobs quite common in industries such as the automotive industry, but also construction and manufacturing.
Average salary: MIG welding jobs will bring you around $39,777 per year, or $17.78 per hour.
For those with steady hands and a keen eye for detail, TIG welding makes a good match in the welding world. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding or TIG for short is used in everything from robotics to automotive and it is necessary for precise, small-scale welds that cannot be completed with other welding techniques.
Unlike with MIG welding, TIG tools and processes allow welders to start and stop instead of welding continuously, to increase precision and safety. This makes TIG welding jobs very popular among a range of industries.
Average salary: Annually, a typical TIG welder salary can be around $49,086, with an hourly rate of $19.49.
The main responsibilities include setting up and maintaining oil rigs. Since this is an off-shore position, rig welder jobs typically entail travelling for months at a time and living on the rigs in order to maintain them. They play an essential role in ensuring safe and most efficient oil and gas extraction and processing.
Average salary: The rig welder salary can be approximately $77,160 yearly, or $37.60 per hour.
This job demands a special security clearance from different agencies depending on the location of the job, such as the FBI in the US. Since you’ll be working with hazardous nuclear material, whether it’s on reactors, ships, or submarines, welding jobs in this sector come with specialised requirements as well as a salary to match.
Average salary: You can expect to earn around $66,978 per year, or $32 per hour.
Military Support Welders
Armed forces around the world need to use all kinds of equipment that requires welding, from missiles to tanks and trucks. Military support welders need more than those basic welding skills and competences, as this is another highly specialised field.
Average Salary: It varies based on the role you assume in the military, as welding work on an aircraft is different from working on a tank. The average annual pay is estimated to be around $47,397, or $23 per hour.
The Average Welder Salary Around the World
With more experience and education, you can expect higher salaries, but there are certain norms for welders that rule different markets around the world. Typical certified welder salary ranges are higher no matter your location.
For instance, in the US, the average welder salary is around $40,944 annually, with the hourly rate being $19.23.
In the UK, £24,361 is the annual average for a welder, or £12.49 per hour.
To take a few European countries as examples, in Belgium, you can expect the average annual salary to be €44.945, or €21,61 per hour. Denmark has the average yearly pay for welders at 424.307 kr. (just over €57,000), or 203,99 kr. (€27,42) per hour.
#Get the Right Welding Certifications
For starters, you need a high-school diploma (or GED) in order to move onto more advanced and specialised welding training courses.
If you’ve obtained education from a vocational or technical school and you know the fundamentals of physics, metallurgy, and technical drawing as well as blueprint reading, you can apply for training with a specific employer. Beyond that, you need to get certified to work on larger, more demanding projects and jobs.
Across different industries and locations, you’ll find that each welding job demands specific certifications. We’ll list a few that are most commonly requested by employers worldwide and that are both nationally and internationally accepted.
On top of that, based on your chosen welding niche (such as military, rig-based, or underwater, for example), you can work towards earning the qualifications specifically needed for that position. The requirements for welding certification vary from one program to another - some require nothing more than your high-school diploma, while other, more advanced ones demand previous and specific welding qualifications.
American Welding Society Certification (AWS)
Just like with welder inspectors, AWS welding certification is accepted globally, although there are location-specific alternatives that your employer might ask for. The CW program is designed to give you all the necessary credibility to apply for numerous welding positions.
After completing your apprenticeship and welding training, you can apply for the welding certification test to obtain your CW credentials.
The Certified Welder Program (CW)
This program unifies a multitude of certifications that prove your ability to work with a range of welding methods, materials, applicable across different industries. The more you obtain, the greater your chances are of getting hired for the finest welding jobs.
You need to find an AWS-accredited facility (which can be found worldwide) to apply for the program with a Certified Welder Application that costs $50. The price is the same for members and non-members.
Here is the list of the certification names you can hold after getting tested for each skill range:
- SMAW Plate
- GMAW Plate
- FCAW Plate
- GTAW Plate
- SMAW Pipe
- GTAW Pipe (Carbon steel)
- GTAWPipe (Stainless steel to carbon steel)
- GTAW Pipe (Stainless steel)
- GTAW/SMAW Pipe (Carbon steel)
- GTAW/SMAW Pipe (Chrome PWHT)
This program covers several welding certification levels, from MIG welding certification, TIG welding certification, to structural welding certification.
Once you pass the test (or several of them), you get your welding certification card that serves as your credential.
How long does it take to get a welding certificate?
It all depends on the organisation in charge of the testing. Many welders will get certified with their employer, so as to obtain the specific skills they need for the job. Then again, employers might select employees with existing AWS or American Petroleum Institute (API) certification.
Companies themselves, on the other hand, can obtain ASME welding certification to make sure they are following all the necessary protocols and safety standards in their industry.
To qualify for the CW test, however, you need to have a high-school diploma, essential welding training (covering anything from cutting, metallurgy, welding, and safety, and it can last up to two years) and training on the job (which can last several months).
Note: some welding jobs don’t require any type of certification whatsoever. There are many positions that allow you to work on general welding projects that require training and education, but not official certification. But, employers do prefer to hire certified welders, and the salary is higher for certified welding staff.
American Welding Society Certification Renewal
Your AWS welding certification is valid for six months and then it requires renewal. There is no need for recertification, so all you need to keep track of is the renewal, which comes with a $25 fee.
Additional Types of Welding Certifications and Training
To expand beyond the CW program and become eligible for more welding jobs, you can develop additional skills and experience. In addition to your high-school diploma, on-the-job training, and certification, here are a few extra skills you can benefit from.
Take a Diving Course for Underwater Welding
Fortunately (or not), there are no dedicated underwater welding certification courses that will prepare you for the job. What you do need, in addition to your surface welding knowledge and experience, is a commercial diving licence.
Apply for a diving course and obtain the right certification, and then you can apply for entry-level underwater welding jobs to get enough experience in the trade.
WGA Certification for Nuclear Welding
The Worldwide Gas Association (WGA) prepares you for the job of nuclear welding.
It includes a written test that lasts 6 hours, as well as a practical exam that lasts 7 hours, but in order to earn the WGA certification, you’ll need to work two years as an apprentice on top of that.
CRAW Certification for Robotic Welding
Another AWS program, this time specifically designed for mastering Robotic Arc Welding for aspiring Operators and Technicians, is necessary for work in robotics.
Over to You
The welding profession is versatile and growing at a notable rate around the world. Welding jobs are bound to be in demand no matter the industry, so you can rest assured that you will be able to find excellent jobs on BuildStream to develop your welding career.
If you’re already an experienced welder, perhaps this article will inspire you to try your hand at a new welding discipline. But if you’re new to the trade, be sure to use the information shared here to find the most suitable welding job for you.