What Is the Average Salary of a Welder?

Are you interested in how cars and other metal machines are built? Do you have what it takes to work with dangerous equipment and machinery? Read on to learn more about the average salary of a welder and job outlook information for this career. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

If you are a welder, your duties will depend upon the equipment you use and the industry you're employed in. There are more than 100 different processes and techniques that a welder can use, but arc welding is a common technique for many situations. This type of welding creates heat through electrical currents to melt and then combine separate metal items into one piece.

Different types of metals require different welding techniques. In addition to being familiar with hands-on techniques, you'll need to understand how to operate welding machinery. Before beginning your work, you'll need to consult blueprints to ensure your finished work matches what is required.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required Education High school diploma or GED; some employers may prefer postsecondary education
On-the-Job Training Ranges from several weeks to a few years
Professional Certification Voluntary certification offered by the American Welding Society
Key Skills Technical and spatial-orientation skills; manual dexterity; physical strength and stamina
Work Environment Manufacturing and construction settings, both indoors and outdoors
Similar Occupations Boilermaker, metal and plastic machine worker, sheet metal worker

Salary Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean hourly salary for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in May 2014 was $19.25 an hour, or an annual average income of $40,040 (www.bls.gov). If you were in the top ten percent of wage earners in this occupation during this period, you would have earned $58,590 or more annually. If you were in the bottom ten percent of wage earners in this occupation, you would have earned $25,510 annually or less.

Salary by Industry

The BLS reported that the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry paid the most in May 2014, resulting in an annual average income of $69,120. Natural gas distribution and pipeline transportation of crude oil also had high average annual salaries of $68,420 and $61,980, respectively.

The architectural and structural metals manufacturing industry had the highest employment level in May 2014, and the average pay was $17.65 per hour, which is $36,710 annually. The agriculture, construction and mining machinery manufacturing industry had the second-highest employment level. Its average pay was $18.23 an hour and $37,910 per year.

Salary by State

The top-paying state in May 2014 was Alaska, where the hourly average wage was $34.57 and the annual income was $71,910, according to the BLS. Mean annual wages for other states with the highest pay were $59,120 for Hawaii, $57,390 for the District of Columbia, $52,980 for Wyoming and $50,310 for North Dakota. Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Vermont and Iowa were some states with the lowest annual average pay. Professionals in these locations made average salaries of $23,170-$37,180.

Salary by Experience

According to September 2015 salary data from PayScale.com, welders possessing less than five years of experience had annual earnings of $25,115-$61,786. Those with 5-10 years of experience made $29,851-$78,438, while those with 10-20 years of experience made higher salaries of $29,784-$86,421. Salaries continued to increase to $33,697-$83,558 with more than 20 years of experience.

Job Outlook

Welders, cutters, solderers and brazers were expected to see 4% employment growth over the 2014 through 2024 decade, according to the BLS. Decent job opportunities should be available, especially in the manufacturing industries, if you're qualified and skilled. Because the skill sets of a welder are easily transferable to other industries, employment is available, especially if you're willing to relocate. The states with the highest concentration of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in May 2014 were Louisiana, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Oklahoma, according to the BLS.

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