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Options for a Long-Term Career in Welding

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Everyone knows that prior to pursuing a career in welding it’s important to seek out the necessary education and certification in order to pass the tests given by prospective employers. In addition, some web sites talk about exciting welding jobs in exotic locations that pay big money or require extraordinary qualifications such as diving certification for underwater welding. However, what should the average welder who wants to stay in his or her hometown and raise a family look for in a welding career?

In fact, what are some realistic long-term career options in welding? It’s one thing to seek a welding job, but the long-term job security of a welding career is what every worker wants.

We’ve mentioned some of the innovations and changes coming to the welding field in a previous post (see Staying on the Cutting Edge of Welding), but below are some other options available for welders with certification and who have gone on to become officially Certified Welders.

Common High-Paying Welding Careers

Some of the most common and highest paying domestic welding jobs include: Pipeline Welder, Structural Welder, Pipe fitter Welder, Boilermaker Welder, and Aerospace Welder (see the WA list of job-seeker resources).

Pipeline fabrication and repair jobs are growing and high-paying in North America due to the demand for oil and other fossil fuels. Each of these fields require specialized certification, but welders retiring at 55 with plenty of cash in the bank share that the investment in training was well worth it in the long term.

However, it doesn’t help anyone all that much to be hired for a high-paying welding job and then receive a pink slip six months later. Welders need jobs that pay well and provide long-term career options. While some of the above welding careers offer fairly secure career paths, there are a number of welding careers that are indisputably growing.

Growing Welding Careers

American Welding Society President Ray Shook recently identified five welding growth areas that include: agricultural equipment, highway infrastructure (learn more about this trend), rail transport, energy production, and the petrochemical industry.

Each of these are closely tied to legislation and political trends, but most current trends back up Shook’s analysis as population growth will require transportation, energy, and food production improvements and increases. With the recent bridge collapse in Minnesota, infrastructure improvements remain a high priority for local and national politicians.

Long-Term Welding Careers

Not every welder wants to be stuck on a job site for the rest of his/her career, but a long-term career in welding does not necessarily mean having to be on your feet for the rest of your life. In fact, there are some excellent welding career options beyond traditional, hands-on welding positions.

Some other common fields that provide excellent long-term career options for welders include automated and robotic welding (learn more at WA), teaching welding, quality control, welding inspection (learn more at AWS), shift managers, and equipment sales and consulting.

A solid, long-term welding career doesn’t happen by accident. In order to move into one of these welding career options, welders will need to pursue additional education, certification, and training. Perhaps they'll need to learn how to manage projects or take extra night classes on teaching or welding inspection.

Whether moving to automated welding or welding instruction, welders have strong incentives to improve their welding competence and to carefully plan their future career options.


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