There are many job paths to choose from, and people often wonder if welding is a good career. Welding is a tough job that requires skill and patience and is not for those looking for something easy and cushy. However, there are many advantages to welding and a host of benefits available that make welding a preferred profession over other trades for many.
So, is welding a good career? Welding is an excellent career, and welders commonly praise their profession and extol the many benefits they get from welding as a career. Overall, if you can handle extreme conditions, long hours, and smoke and fire regularly, a career in welding can be rewarding. Lots of welders enjoy their work and everything it offers, and you can be one of them.
Those that choose to weld as a career are attracted to the trade because of the work, which many enjoy, and the income from wages, which are usually high. Full-time welders are well-paid and sought after, and benefits like health insurance and dental coverage are also part of many companies packages which employ welders.
If you wonder if a career in welding is good, talk to welders and see how they feel about it, or speak to those in industries that support and hire welders to see what the field is all about. You can also seek welding instructors or guidance counselors at community colleges that offer welding instruction and talk to them on the phone or one-on-one to develop a better idea of what a welding career is like.
Benefits To A Career In Welding
Being a welder gives you a prestigious position in society among tradesmen and women. Anyone can be a welder if they apply themselves and are suited for the work. There are higher than average rates of pay for welders among the trades types, and those who become career welders enjoy being in high demand for their services and get paid more as they gain skill and experience.
Being a welder can include generous employment packages with full medical, dental, and retirement benefits, and life insurance options. Many different industries need welders, and if you are a good worker who is reliable and skilled, you will never be out of work if you meet the requirements and demands of employers.
Here are some additional benefits into why a career in welding is so advantageous:
No College Degree Required
The welding field is easily accessible since it does not require a college degree. You can obtain a welding certificate in just 9 months and earn well.
Your success will depend on your skill level. Most welding jobs require candidates to perform well on a hands-on test.
Welding can introduce you to several industries. It offers a more comprehensive choice than any other skill or trade. That’s because welding opportunities are available in all sectors. There is hardly any industry in the world that does not require welders.
With additional training, you can advance further your welding career. Here are a few examples of the different sectors that require welders:
- Installation, fabrication, and upgrades
Whether it is the ocean floor or outer space, welding is needed everywhere. As a welder, you can enjoy great traveling opportunities. Welders who travel to different job sites are called ‘Road Warriors”. This work makes for much more than just a career. It is a way of life. Such professionals often travel to remote locations as part of their job. They get to visit exciting places, eat out, meet new people and more. And they are paid well.
Here are examples of traveling welding jobs:
Industrial Maintenance and Shutdown
Welders who carry out maintenance and shutdown work in the industry have to travel widely as industrial plants, factories, and industries are in far-flung places.
Industrial shutdowns can take from a few days to several weeks. They require skilled technicians, engineers, and welders. Most welders usually travel within a 1000 mile radius from home for such jobs. During a typical year, welders can spend six months working and traveling, while the remaining months are taken off. Hence, a welding career offers a good balance of work and leisure.
Ship Building and Repair
The shipbuilding industry has such an essential requirement for welders that it has devoted entire communities to these professionals. When fulfilling massive projects, shipyards need to hire many welders as independent contractors. Also, shipyards offer plenty of training programs and apprenticeship opportunities for fitters and welders.
At shipyards, you may have to work on many vessels, ranging from small research craft to large aircraft carriers and supertankers. Depending on the scale of the project, the job may last a few weeks to years. Welders may have to travel to major ports across the world for working on such projects. The beauty of the shipbuilding industry is that you never know where you will be working next. One month, you could be in Japan, and the next month you could be in the US.
The military always needs the support of skilled technicians and professional welders to carry out its operations. Military-based welding work is typically done by contracting companies that specialize in maintaining military hardware and infrastructure. Jobs include outfitting vehicles, repairing tanks, and constructing pipelines.
Welders working for the military can be stationed close to home. They may even work at remote military bases in Guam, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan, and other places. Warzones are a dangerous environment for welders. But the risk is matched by the highly rewarding pay.
On-Board Cruise Liner Maintenance
Life can be a fantastic cruise when working on a luxury ocean liner. In this job, you must remain on board the ship for emergency repairs and routine maintenance. Welders are always needed to carry out repairs on pipes, engine rooms, and other facilities onboard the vessel. As the ship travels to exotic locales, you will also get to explore the world. You can travel to new countries every few months or weeks. Such welding professionals earn excellent pay and other great benefits. These benefits include chef-prepared meals, luxury accommodation, and other amenities that most people can only dream of. What is a once in a lifetime opportunity may become an everyday reality for you.
Pipe Line Work and Repair
Welders are required wherever new pipeline networks are being installed. They are even needed for existing pipeline installations to carry out maintenance and emergency repairs.
You may have to travel to remote mineral-rich places like Alaska and Canada. Pipeline welders can travel as far as the project takes them. If you are lucky enough, your company may even arrange vacations and holidays to and from your country.
Most of us have watched NASCAR and other motorsports events on television. But few people know that racing teams travel with welders, besides pit crews. Welding is an integral part of motorsports since many metal parts and panels are often custom made. Most racing teams entirely custom build their cars. Welding is necessary for such extensive fabrication and installation.
Therefore, welding professionals can travel wherever their racing teams go. It is an excellent opportunity to get involved in a sport that many people love. You can take satisfaction in preparing your dream team for victory. Imagine the bragging rights and admiration you will earn for working on the winning car.
In this field, you can work anywhere right down to the bottom of the oceans around the world. You can visit places and go down to depths that few people have the privilege of seeing.
As you can expect, underwater welders can travel globally and even work in the US. If you are a good diver, expert welder and will travel, then your skills will be in high demand worldwide. You will need an additional valuable skill: diving. You can join a commercial diving school to gain diving proficiency.
Consistently High Demand for Welders
While most careers experience significant swings in demand, the welding field is relatively stable. Welders always have a high demand since they are required by all industries. Therefore, they have the privilege of switching industries without changing their careers. Since there is always a high demand for welders, they can earn good pay.
High Pay up to Six Figures
Military support welders can make as much as $30 per hour. Therefore, the highest paying welding jobs can approach a six-figure annual income. This is possibly the best income you can earn without a college degree.
The top-paying welding jobs are for working in hazardous conditions and at remote locations worldwide. These include industrial pipe welders, underwater welders, and military support welders. Military welders can earn well over $100,000 for performing their duties in the Middle East.
There is an excellent variation in salaries for welders. It depends on your skill level and your willingness to travel. Local welding jobs usually earn less than overseas jobs since they typically require less skill. On the other hand, overseas pipe welding jobs can offer good salaries.
Best Choice for a Green Collar Career
The energy industry is transitioning towards green-collar jobs. There is a high demand for alternative energy sources. But there is no single alternative energy source, which can serve as a solution for all needs. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, diverse alternate energy sources are necessary to fulfill demand. No single source will do on its own.
With multiple sources of alternate sources, the balance of advantages and disadvantages can be optimized.
But whatever energy sources are deployed, one thing remains certain. Welding will come out on top no matter which technology is used. If you want to work in the energy sector, then welding is the best and safest green-collar job choice. Welders are needed wherever metal is used. So it does not matter which energy technologies emerge as leaders.
Excellent Future Outlook
Welders have always been instrumental to the industrial sector. The future will be no different. It does not matter how well the economy is performing. Even if there is a recession, welding will see a decline much lower than other jobs. No industry can prosper without welding. If specific industries go down during a recession, you can switch to more stable industries. You can switch industries without a costly and time-consuming career change.
What’s A Career In Welding Like?
Welding involves using welding equipment such as an arc welder or MIG/TIG welders to join pieces of metal together using a metal rod. The welding equipment runs an electrical current through the rod, and the rod, when applied to the edges of the metal being joined, will melt.
This molten metal is manipulated by the welder to create “beads,” which are small rivers of molten metal. This molten metal is what forms a seam between pieces of metal, and joins or “welds” them together. These welds are solid and are made to make the metal act as one piece, so welds must be made correctly to create strength and durability.
When welders are operating their welding machines, they must wear protective clothing and gear, such as welding masks, to guard them. You should never view the light produced when welding with the naked eye, as this can create vision problems and extreme pain in the eyes, which will run with tears for days.
While training, you will be instructed in all the safety procedures necessary when operating welding equipment and in working areas on work sites of all kinds.
Welding is done in all conditions, both hot and cold, with or without air conditioning. Welding can create a high amount of heat and smoke, so be prepared to withstand harsh conditions if you consider a career in welding.
Those with certain medical conditions that would prohibit them from working in these conditions should avoid the profession, as most times, these conditions cannot be avoided.
Is Welding Fun?
Welding is a challenging career that requires the welder to be in top physical shape and will take the welder to new tests in endurance. However, many enjoy the work as they love to work with their hands and craft metal into usable forms for many applications. If you love metal and machines, working as a welder is something most who enjoy that work will be thrilled with.
There are all kinds of welding jobs that are fun for welders, including welding automobiles, airplanes, and even spacecraft. There are also underwater welding jobs that require welders to weld underwater using specialized equipment on oil rigs around the world. This means welders will get to travel a lot, and the pay for these jobs is over $100 an hour in many cases.
How to Get Started in a Welding Career
Many welders get their weld by taking welding programs such as the ones offered at trade schools or community colleges. There are also welding schools available that offer room and board and tuition assistance for those that qualify. Financial aid is also available at community colleges, and those that are eligible may also engage in work co-op programs that allow on the job training and internships.
If you think you like the idea of a welding career, contact the trade schools, community colleges, or welding schools you think you might want to attend and inquire about the different programs. You need to know the requirements for admission, the financial aid you will need, and how you will afford things like food, clothing, and housing while you attend school.
What Types of Industries Hire Welders?
A wide variety of industries employ welders in many capacities. Some of these include the automotive industry, architectural and construction companies, structural metals manufacturing, and mining. Agricultural manufacturing is one great industry, and motor vehicle manufacturing is another. Shipbuilding companies are often employers of welders and the aerospace industry.
There are also other industries that employ welders, and you can even become an independent welder who works on projects on a freelance basis. It is possible also to open your own welding shop and work for businesses, the public, and others from a mobile or brick and mortar location.
How much is the average salary for a welder?
The average welder salary in the US runs from $19.20 – $28.90 per hour. Underwater welders and those working in high-end capacities can expect to make a higher salary, sometimes exceptional and in the range of $100+ per hour.
How much does welding training cost?
Welding training costs vary by location and institution, but a good rule of thumb in many cases is to think of training as equaling one-two years of school at a community college. Before you decide to become a welder, check out all the costs involved with training at the facility or institution of your choice and know all aspects of training expenses.
How good is the job outlook for welders?
Welders enjoy a particularly favorable job outlook overall. If you have the training and skills, you can start as an entry-level welder and expect to find work and make your way upon graduation from your school. However, a lot of this depends on your location, as job opportunities vary widely.