Welders permanently join metal parts in a variety of industries, such as aerospace, bridge construction and refineries. They may use over 100 different types of processes to perform the work, the most common being arc welding, which uses electrical currents to bond metals together with heat. Aside from welding, their jobs can involve studying specifications and blueprints, inspecting the materials to be welded and maintaining equipment and machinery.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the country’s 369,910 welders average $40,040 per year, or $19.25 an hour. The lowest earning 10 percent receive under $25,510 annually, or $12.26 hourly while the best paid make over $58,590 per year, or $28.17 an hour.
The industry that hires the most welders is architectural and structural metal manufacturing with 44,480 positions making a mean $36,710 per year, or $17.65 per hour. Ranking second for jobs is agriculture, construction and mining machinery manufacturing where 25,190 workers average $37,910 a year, or $18.23 an hour. Ranking third for employment is motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing at a mean annual $35,140, or $16.89, ofr 18,030 jobs. The highest-paying employer is boiler, tank and shipping container manufacturing at a mean $38,950 per year, or $18.73 per hour. Railroad rolling stock manufacturing ranks second, averaging an annual$38,920, or $18.71. Next is motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing with salaries detailed in the previous paragraph.
Among states, Texas, the second most populous one, offers the most positions for welders at 52,130 with average pay at $40,900 per year, or $19.66 per hour. California, the most populous state, has 25,030 welders earning a mean $42,540 annually, or $20.45 hourly. Third for jobs is Pennsylvania with 17,400 jobs paying a mean $39,370 a year, or $18.93 an hour.
The state with the highest pay is Alaska, averaging an annual $71,910 or $34.57 hourly. Next is Hawaii at a mean $59,120 per year, or $28.42 per hour. The District of Columbia, which the BLS classifies with states, is third at a mean $57,390 a year, or $27.59 an hour.
The metro area with the most jobs for welders is Houston, Sugarland and Baytown, Texas with 17,640 positions averaging $43,230 per year, or $20.78 per hour. Next is Chicago, Joliet and Naperville, Illinois, where 6,300 workers make a mean annual $37,800, or $18.18 an hour. Ranking third is Los Angeles, Long Beach and Glendale, California, averaging $39,280 yearly, or $18.88 hourly.
The best paying city is Anchorage, Alaska, at a mean $71,030 per year, or $34.15 per hour. Ranking second is Honolulu, Hawaii, averaging $61,550 annually, or $29.59 hourly. Peabody, Massachusetts is third at a mean $60,740 yearly, or $29.20 per hour.
In non-metropolitan areas, the highest employment is in the Kansas nonmetropolitan area with 3,520 positions receiving a mean $36,410 annually, or $17.50 hourly. The Railbelt and Southwest Alaska nonmetropolitan area has the best wages, averaging $75,180 per year, or $36.14 per hour.
Jobs for welders are expected to increase by 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is far less than the 11 percent projected for all jobs in all industries. Many of the jobs will come from aging infrastructure that needs repairs, such as bridges and highways. The construction of new power generation facilities and oil pipelines will also provide employment. Job prospects increase with greater skills, so those wanting the best positions should train in the latest technologies.