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How Much Money Do Welders Make Annually?

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.

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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