How Much Do Welders Make?

Posted on by in

Welding is one of our top picks for jobs in the skilled trades!

You can make a lot of money with little investment in education and training as with most skilled trades, but welding brings some better salaries than other careers. This does not mean it is an easy career or one where you will earn a high salary right away, though. You will need to prove your value, work hard, and become a skilled welding craftsman to land the most lucrative welding salaries.

So, let’s take a look at some welding salaries and help you find a high-paying welding job that you can consider for your future.

How Much Do Welders Make?

We need to preface that this is a broad question. There are so many different types of welders out there – and the salary ranges can be extreme.

As an example, if you are looking to be a welder in one of the many fabrication shops, you will make considerably less than a friend who may be a pipeline welder. Or, if you are a welder in a factory in Idaho, you will make quite a bit less than an NYC welder working on buildings in the big city.

Hopefully you get the point.

Also, you need to factor in your skill level. If you are just coming out of high school or a welding certificate program, you cannot expect a lot of money. Those that make the big salaries have worked hard to get where they are.

As of May 2021, the average welder was $47,010 per year as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meaning many welders are making a pretty good living!

But that welder salary average includes all types of welders from basic shop welders to combo welders. To really understand the salary ranges we are going to break down the types of welding specialties that command the highest salaries. You may be surprised to know that many can be in the six figures salary range!

Education Requirements For Welding Careers

You can read our complete guide on how to become a welder to find more information about education. But, you will be happy to hear that most welders only have a high school diploma. You can find apprenticeships after high school to get some on-the-job training and it is also highly recommended to attend a trade school to get your certification.

Related: Is welding a good career?

Getting welding experience is the most important thing you can do to make yourself more valuable and get higher pay. This may mean working for a few years for a lower wage to ultimately land those high-paying welding jobs. Find a mentor to help you navigate a career path or help you become a specialty welder which can increase your income even more.

While you do have to make some sort of educational investment for certification and classes, it is still tens of thousands less than what a four year degree would cost. And with the salaries you can earn, you will earn back your investment much quicker.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for the welding industry is strong. There is a high demand for skilled welders with advanced experience, so there has never been a better time to jump on this career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an estimated 8% growth expected through 2030, but there are many who believe it is much higher.

Best Paying Welding Jobs

If you are looking for the highest-paying welding jobs, hopefully, this table will help you. It is a general summary so you can easily see the specialties and different salary averages. Read on below for more details on the welding careers that pay the most!

Welding CareerAverage/Median SalaryHighest EarnersLowest Earners
Certified Welding Inspector$72,000$117,000$45,000
Welding Engineer$82,986$99,315$70,328
Aerospace Welder$63,565$82,497$48,765
Underwater Welder$87,333$109,540$62,645
Pipeline Welder$74,926$96,328$58,906
Military Welder$47,397$74,500$33,500
Robotic Welding Engineer$78,000$104,00$59,000

Typically, the highest-paid welding job will be due to its high risk of injury or additional certifications needed. So, if you are a risk-taker who loves the thrill of danger or someone who wants to learn as much as possible, your salary will reflect these things.

The numbers above come from a variety of sources like Salary.com, Payscale.com, and BLS.gov. There are a lot of things that can affect your salary, so what you earn in these careers may vary. Where you work, the industry you work in, and your level of experience and education all play a part in your salary.

It is also important to note that these are just salaries. Many skilled welders earn will also receive benefits and possibly bonuses in addition to their regular salary.

Now on to the welding jobs and their brief job description.

Underwater Welder

The reason underwater welders make an above-average wage is due to the complexity and dangers this job brings. This is not a welding option you should consider unless you have nerves of steel and a love of diving. These jobs pay more because the risk of injury – or even death is higher than most other jobs. It is considered one of the most dangerous jobs there is.

As the job title may imply, to become an underwater welder you will need to become a certified commercial diver. There are typically two types of underwater welding jobs including wet and dry welding. Dry welding will have the welder working below the ocean in a chamber while wet welding will actually take place in the water.

Below are the median annual salaries for different levels of underwater welders from SalaryExpert.com.

Entry Level: $62,645

Average: $87,333

Senior: $109,540

The median hourly salary for an underwater welder is $42.52.

Not only are the wages great, but it is expected that they will increase by approximately 18% through 2027.

All data is from surveys of employers and employees and is provided by SalaryExpert.

You may be happy to hear that 87% of underwater welders that participated in the survey had an Associate’s degree or less.

underwater welder at work

Pipeline Welder

Pipeline welding jobs are one of the best paying on this list, with some experienced pipeline welders earning over 6 figures. Pipeline welders crate the extremely large pipes that are used to move oil and natural gas. Jobs may be here in the United States or you may travel abroad. Many jobs exist in the middle east for pipeline welders or can be on oil rigs which may be in the middle of the ocean.

Because these lines are incredibly heavy – it is important for a welder to be fit – and flexible to be able to tackle those hard-to-weld places. The average annual salary for pipeline welders according to Salary.com is $74,926. Salaries for pipeline welders are often much higher in states like New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts.

Lowest Earners: $58,906

Average: $74,926

Top Earners: $96,328

Welding Engineer

Welding engineers requires a deep knowledge of all things welding. It is up to a welding engineer to master a variety of welding techniques to tackle a variety of welding projects. They make work outdoors or indoors and will use their skills to design and analyze welds they are completing. They may also be responsible for the planning and implementation of processes to maximize job efficiency.

According to Salary.com, the average salary for a welding engineer is $82,986 annually. Of course, your experience, location, and industry will largely affect your potential earnings.

Lowest Earners: $70,328

Average: $82,986

Top Earners: $99,315

Military welder

Military welders are integral parts of our military. It is not a job for the light-hearted and requires a great work ethic and the ability to pass a variety of exams both physical and written. In this field, you are responsible for all the items used in the military. That also means being on hand during times of war to repair vehicles or aircraft that may become damaged.

There are opportunities in all branches of the armed forces and each may have you doing different types of welding work. A military support welder may work on trucks, an aircraft, or any other necessary weapon or vehicle.

It was a little harder to find verified salary data for this job, but below is what ZipRecruiter shows as the averages.

ZipRecruiter shows the average hourly rate to be $23 per hour. But of course, you would receive great benefits as well. The type of welding and location you reside in will also affect how much you earn. AWS and Rig welders do typically see higher earnings than some other specialties.

Lowest Earners: $33,500

Average: $47,397

Top Earners: $74,500

military welder at work earning a good salary

Robotic Welding Engineer

We cannot talk enough about specialties, and being a robot welding engineer is one of those specialties. While a general education in welding is necessary, there is even more education involved in this path. Those interested in this position may need a variety of courses or multiple certifications in various computer science courses. Robots certification will be needed as well so you have an understanding of programming or mechanical aspects.

As a robotic welder, you will have a variety of job duties. This may include doing experimental welding to evaluate equipment and techniques, establish welding procedures, or develop new welding or robot methods. This list of things you may be responsible is long, but the pay is good. Below is data on salaries from Payscale.com.

Lowest Earners: $59,000

Average: $78,000

Top Earners: $104,000

Aerospace Welder

If you were the kid that dreamed of being an astronaut but realized that would require leaving earth – maybe being an aerospace welder will be a good alternative. As an aerospace welder, you may work on an aircraft or spacecraft doing what some call structural welding. Your job will focus on repairing or building aerospace units, so as you can imagine, it is an important and sometimes stressful job.

Your days may have you replacing worn out parts, repairing holes or cracks, and of course creating all new prototypes or actual aircrafts. The median salary of an aerospace welder in the United States as per Salary.com is $63,565.

Lowest Earners: $48,765

Average: $63,565

Top Earners: $82,497

Certified Welding Inspector

A certified welding inspector (CWI) has a pretty critical job in the industry. They are responsible for ensuring safety standards are met in various environments like construction. They will make sure all welding materials are in good condition, inspect completed welds, make sure all safety requirements are being followed, and so much more. There is much more training and certifications that need to be earned before becoming a certified welding inspector, but this can affect your overall compensation.

How much you can earn varies greatly depending on location and the industry you work in. Areas like California and New York offer higher wages than opportunities in the Midwest for example. Some of the top paying industries for this career include power, transportation, and electric.

The welding inspector certification process can be tough, but once you pass it – your opportunities to earn a six-figure salary can be a reality. According to Payscale, a leading salary data company, the average salary of a certified welding inspector is $70,401 annually. The more experience you can bring, the more you can earn!

Lowest Earners: $45,000

Average: $72,000

Top Earners: $72,079

You can also be a certified welding supervisor which is similar in nature to this career.

Increasing Your Earning Potential

If you have specialized welding skills, your income can increase by quite a lot. This may come at a cost of more training or certification, but the rewards can be worth it. Below are some specific skills that often increase salaries for welders by quite a bit.

  • Arc Welding
  • Production Support
  • Engineering Design
  • Writing Documentation

Other ways you can increase your earning potential in the welding industry include:

  1. Travel. If you are willing to travel for work, then the ability to make quite a bit more money is real. Whether traveling overseas for a specific task or working for a few months on a ship; these opportunities can be worth it.
  2. Risk. The more job risk, the more pay. This is why underwater welding jobs are one of the highest-paying in the industry. It is a high-risk job with a higher than normal fatality rate.
  3. Schedules. If you are willing to overnight shifts or weekends there are sometimes differentials for pay. This can be a great way to earn more while not taking any risks of traveling.

All welders should also join and be involved with the American Welding Society (AWS) which can provide additional opportunities for building a network and finding out new opportunities in the welding sector. Becoming certified by the American Welding Society is also a great way to set yourself apart from other welders!

Share your thoughts!