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Good News, Bad News: Plenty of Jobs for Skilled Welders

Now hiring sign in red

Spending time in welding forums I’ve noticed a great divide between welders – those that are finding more work than they can handle, and those that are desperate for work and have been unemployed for months.

It seems that there are plenty of jobs for skilled welders with experience and plenty of job-hunting ahead for those without it.

The Good News
The good news is that there are jobs available for those with five to ten years of experience, and for them the job market will only get better.

The current average age of welders is 54 and, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 200,000 welders are expected to retire within the next ten years. This leaves a massive hole in the industry that will not likely be filled by the next generation of workers. An alarming 60 percent of new welding jobs in the next 20 years will require skills held by 20 percent of the present workforce. Again, this is good news if you’re found within the 20 percent of those with experience and high-level skills.

The industry’s seemingly miraculous immunity from the devastated economy is even encouraging the recently unemployed to turn their attention to welding. Take Jacqueline Springs, a bus driver laid off in April, who, seeing the growth of the welding industry, enrolled in a training program where she expects to eventually make $28 to $32 an hour, twice what she made as a bus driver. But it is not all good news for Springs who will soon leave her training program with only six months of non-occupational experience and may find it difficult to get a job.

The Bad News
Though the devastated economy has affected relatively fewer jobs in the welding market, finding a position may be harder for those with less than five to ten years of experience.

The reason is simple: the rapid growth of advanced technology is requiring more advanced techniques and welders with a wider variety of skills and experience. Employers routinely require that applicants pass skill tests before they are hired. The majority of those hired by some employers who pass these rigorous welding tests are in their mid 30’s to early 40’s, have ten years of experience and will make $22 an hour. It is this class of welder that has little trouble finding stable work.

The unfortunate byproduct is thousands of new welders who lack the experience to find stable jobs, who may need to move from job to job and take lower pay to get valuable experience and certification. Once they get this experience it seems that they are in the clear, but what to do in the meantime?

For those with no experience there is good news hidden in the bad, experts say that this is an opportunity to brush up on welding basics, to develop their own projects and practice welding techniques so that in the next ten years when 200,000 welders retire, they will be prepared.

This post written by Jesse Gunther

Ed C.


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