How Much Money Do Welders Make Annually?

Welding is believed to be one of the most profitable blue collar careers around, and some rumors from welders working in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania have hinted that some welders are making over $100,000 annually. While that may be the case for a few welders, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind when looking into the actual salary for the typical welder.

Source: www.bls.gov

This month we’re going to look at some recent salary data for welders based on the 2013 U.S. Department of Labor’s report on welding. While welding work can still pull in a pretty good hourly wage for blue-collar workers straight out of trade school, there certainly are opportunities to make some serious money as a welder. Of course the one constant with welding work is that you’ll have to work hard no matter how much you’re making per hour. There are no short cuts!

The Average Salary for Welding Jobs

The average salary for welders is $36,720, which is a pretty typical middle class welding job. However, welding jobs will bottom out around $25,000 a year, which may be common for many entry-level welding positions. On the other hand, the 90th percentile of welders earn around $57,000 a year.

Welding Jobs that Pay the Best

If you want the highest paying welding jobs around, you have to compete with a bunch of other welders for the top spots, as the supply of jobs is much lower. For instance, electric power generation, transmission, and distribution pays an annual salary of $66,550, but there are only 1,150 jobs available. Likewise, the promising jobs in natural gas distribution, which are expected to continue increasing, are still barely over 1,000 jobs paying an annual salary of $62,130.

Starting Salary for Entry Level Welding Jobs

The starting salary for welders will vary depending on the career you choose. However, at the low end, welders can currently expect to make about $15 an hour if they’re just starting out. That could be a little lower depending the region and the kind of work involved. However, at the very least, welders should expect to rise from $15 an hour to about $18 an hour as they become more experienced.

Where to Find the Highest Paying Welding Jobs

Welding jobs earning between $43,000 and $68,000 are generally located along the east coast, stretching from Virginia on through New Jersey and Connecticut all the way up to Maine.

While jobs in the shipping industry drive work in Virginia, many east coast welding jobs are in construction, electrical work, and, in the case of Maine, the paper industry.

The Most Plentiful Welding Jobs

If you’re looking for job security in welding, then your best bet will be architectural and structural welding work, particularly with stick welding. As of 2013 there were 41,770 welders employed in this field. That’s 12% of the welding workforce in that single industry.

The hourly rate of $17 isn’t going to put you into a six-figure annual income, but there will chances to pick up overtime and there is great value in knowing you can quickly find work in a variety of locations.

Shipping and pipelines also remain key segments of the welding job market. With the oil and gas booms all across the U.S. and Canada, expect to find a steady stream of new welding jobs as additional wells are tapped. Shipping also remains a cost-effective way to transport goods, so you won’t have to worry about shipyard jobs going away any time soon.

Where to Find the Most Welding Jobs

The most welding jobs can be found in several regions. For starters, the upper Midwest has been an ongoing bastion for welding work. From Minnesota on through Ohio, you can find thousands upon thousands of welding jobs. That also spills into the Dakotas and western Pennsylvania with the natural gas boom.

Welding manufacturers such as Miller Electric and Lincoln Electric are also located in the upper Midwest, so it’s likely that many of these welding jobs aren’t going anywhere. With the return of manufacturing to the U.S. and the retirement of many older welders, jobs are expected to remain.

Welding work is especially plentiful along the coast in cities that have a strong shipbuilding sector. So California, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Virginia are flush with welding jobs. Texas is also full of welding jobs thanks to oil and natural gas drilling. Alaska also promises a steady stream of work thanks to the growth of these same industries up north.

The cities with the most welding jobs are dotted throughout Texas, including Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas. However, the Chicago region is also full of welding opportunities.

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18 thoughts on “How Much Money Do Welders Make Annually?”

  1. Andrew says:

    With welders in most areas starting at $15 an hour (and some places more), welding is something that can be done nearly anywhere in the country. Finding a location with a steady demand for welding is important so that you can be sure to always have employment. One good place to look for welding jobs is Granted.com.

    1. Shubham dubey says:

      I wants to do fabricator work

  2. Tyler says:

    I want to make i alot of money i am taking welding 1 welding 2 and welding 3 before i graduate i am only in 10 grade and take ag mec and metal and welding 1 right now but my dad works at turner pipe in paris texas he makes a lot of money.

    1. Robert says:

      Good luck to you, Tyler. I was lucky enough to enter into a four-year welding apprenticeship and earned an AS degree in industrial technology before graduating from the program. I topped out at about $60K, plus overtime as a team leader, which came with added responsibilities. From what I learned during my career, the gas and oil industry seems to pay top dollar (I was in shipbuilding and repair). The really BIG bucks are paid for underwater welding. If you are among the best underwater welders, you can easily earn more than $100K a year.

      1. Gabriel Strick says:

        Hello Robert, I am a student attending GEHS a high school in Gardner, KS. I don’t really have my life planned out at the moment but this is a career I am very interested in pursuing. I would love to know what it takes to advance to the position you’re into today. I’ve surfed the web and I am not receiving any reliable sources of information so I would like to a real welder as yourself. My goal is not to get personal, but if you have a family I would like to know the difficulties starting out, my girlfriend and I have been together for many years and I would like to know if just starting out as a welder, I would be capable of upholding a decent house or apartment. Many people on the web talking about the traveling involved achieving that 6-digit salary which is not a huge concern but I would like to home every night I do not look forward to a long distance relationship

  3. Jennifer K Gonzalez says:

    Whats the best welding school in las vegas?

  4. Ricky Johnson says:

    Man I don’t know if they’re just trying to hide information from people or what but I’m from Louisiana and most moderately experienced combination welders I know make around 70-100k if you’re an experienced combination welder and willing to travel that goes up and if you have your on rig that goes up even more I know welders with their own rigs that have broken 300k
    I think the statistics are drastically watered down from all the shipyard and fab shops that pay mediocre wages

  5. Ricky Johnson says:

    Man I don’t know if they’re just trying to hide information from people or what but I’m from Louisiana and most moderately experienced combination welders I know make around 70-100k if you’re an experienced combination welder and willing to travel that goes up and if you have your on rig that goes up even more I know welders with their own rigs that have broken 300k
    I think the statistics are drastically watered down from all the shipyard and fab shops that pay mediocre wages

    1. Joshua Morales says:

      Man I feel like welding should be around what you guys are making in Louisiana. Maybe it’s not hiding information but Just not sharing it. Lol I’m thinking about getting into welding looks fun. Any one have an estimate for salary in California Doing their thing right now?

      1. Jordan Lopez says:

        Joshua,
        I’m here in so. Cal as a fabrication / welder and dpeending on where you go really makes all the difference. As well as exp. A lot of places want you to deliver every skill set known to mankind but want to try and haggle you in what you’re worth. If you are just breaking into the industry and are a beginner do not expect much (around 14-15$/HR) BUT keep in mind you gotta start somewhere and there are plenty of production lines that will take non exp. People. Learn from it gain skills and either re-negotiate your pay or find another with higher pay. I have been welding/fabricating for about 6 years and it isn’t something you can just pick up and be a pro at. It takes time, patience, skill and other variables to be a “good”welder. I do MIG, stick (MMA) (SMAW) TIG (GTAW) flux core etc and NET close to 46k hope this helps

    2. Gabriel Strick says:

      Hey, I am a student attending GEHS a high school in Gardner, KS. I don’t really have my life planned out at the moment but this is a career I am very interested in pursuing. I would love to know the steps you took to be at your position today.

  6. Love saini says:

    How much a high school graduate can make if he took welding 1

  7. Daniel says:

    How much a class 3 graduate can make if he took welding

  8. Nicket Maru says:

    A Good Union welder in NJ will average over $100K easily. With certificates for
    Arc welding
    TIG and mig
    Heliarc

  9. Michael Skaggs says:

    Do welders actually make $36,720, which is a pretty typical middle class welding job. However, welding jobs will bottom out around $25,000 a year, which may be common for many entry-level welding positions. On the other hand, the 90th percentile of welders earn around $57,000 a year.

  10. Ibew 410 says:

    I work for a local utility in Baltimore 6010-7018 tig and mig certs. Some x ray work every year. Our crew leaders that weld at in the high 90s base salary

  11. UpWeld says:

    How to Find welding Jobs in USA?

  12. Matthew W Miller says:

    I weld in colorado in the oil and gas industry I make around $150,000-$350,000 per year. Hourly at this moment I get $87.50 per hr. But that is running my rig with insurance and i pay for consumables. So there is alot you put back into it also. Not all profit

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