When you are a student and thinking about going for a welder course, the question “how much do welders make?” comes to your mind. This is an important question, and you have a right to know the answer, but the answer may not be straightforward. The answer depends on multiple factors, and we have listed many probable answers in this article.
How much do welders make?
The minimum hourly wage in the USA is fixed by the US labor law depending on state and local laws. The federal minimum wage has been 7.25 USD per hour since 2009, and many states in the USA have set the minimum wages much above this value. States like California, Arizona, and New York, have fixed the minimum hourly wages as more than USD 12.
The starting salary of a welder passed out fresh from a welding school can be anywhere near or above the minimum wage, which is called entry-level salary. This entry-level hourly salary for a welder can be 12 USD in many states, but it can be less than this in some states.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics say that the average annual welder’s salary is 42000 USD. This implies that 50% of the welders in the USA earned this amount or less than this, and 50% of the welders earned more. As per the same source, a fresher graduating from a welding school can expect to earn an hourly wage of USD 15 to 17. However, in some places, it can also be as little as 10 or 12 USD per hour.
Many Companies may pay more than the fixed minimum hourly wages when the employee agrees to put in extra hours during the weekend and/or work late-night shifts. This can boost the annual welder’s salary.
When you join a welding school, you can aim to get certification for multiple welding processes. Instead of getting certification only for stick welding, you can learn and get certified for more welding processes like MIG, TIG, and FCAW. You can even get a specialized certificate for welding pipes. These certificates put you above others in the job market and can get you higher hourly wages. You can increase your earnings if you are a pipe welder and ready to travel.
The benefits you earn as a welder depends on where you work. Suppose you work in an organized sector like a company or contractor and you are a union member. In that case, you will get benefits like holidays, paid vacation leave, sick leave, medical and life insurance, pension plans, etc. However, if you are self-employed or work in an unorganized sector, you may lose many benefits and have to arrange for your own medical and life insurance.
How can a welder improve his/her earnings?
The labor statistics in the USA say that 10% of the welders have earnings in six figures. So, to improve your earnings, you must work hard to become a part of the 10% class.
The following tips show how a welder can improve his/her earnings, and they can take you towards the 10% class:
- The welders who hone their skills continuously and get certified for critical welding can increase their value as welders, and as successful welders can earn as much as 30 USD per hour.
- The American Welding Society (AWS) has developed many certification examinations for welders, and the welder can take these exams to become an AWS-Certified welder.
- An AWS-Certified welder can command higher hourly wages, and he/she can pass as many AWS exams and collect more certifications, including certification in resistance welding. All this makes you stand out among your peers.
- AWS exams can make you a certified welder supervisor or a certified welding inspector, and these certificates can boost your earnings.
- Welders working on natural gas distribution pipelines earn much more than their counterparts working as welders, cutters, and brazing welders in a fabrication shop.
- If you have an artistic inclination and proper welding talent, you can pursue a career in the film and television industry, which is highly lucrative.
- Many companies look for punctual welders who have no bad habits, are intellectual and willing to learn, are team people, and are natural leaders. If you have such qualities, you can climb the ladder to become a welding supervisor or a foreman.
- A welder’s hourly wages depend on the location of the place. Places in the USA like Alaska and North Dakota pay more hourly wages to the welders due to the high job availability in construction, maintenance, and repair of pipelines and rigs. However, the working conditions can be harsh (extreme weather conditions).
- Many times, good earning opportunities are available away from your place of living, it can be a different part of the country, or it can be in another country. Your spirit of being ready to move can land you in a comparatively high-paid job. Many companies offer special bonuses for relocation. But, compare the cost of living and other expenses at the new place before you decide to relocate.
- Once you get some welding experience and save money, you can purchase your rig with the truck and take up pipe welding or other works on contract. This dramatically increases your earnings. You can also choose a product and start your fabrication shop.
- Shipbuilding companies offer higher hourly wages for welders who can clear a welding test to get certified for new skills. After more experience, the welder can take another skill test and, after certification, is eligible for a further wage hike.
- Many welders work overtime, work night shifts, and weekends, and all of these have a positive effect on their earnings.
- If you are ready to take risks and hazards, you can learn and become an underwater welder. An underwater welder can earn USD 150,000 and upwards a year.
Welding is considered hazardous work. But, a skilled welder can learn to do an excellent job without compromising safety, and he or she can have good earning opportunities. If you are willing to learn, can concentrate on your welding, and upgrade your skills regularly, then you can plan a successful career in welding.