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.

Salary Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean hourly salary for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in May 2012 was $18.46 an hour, or an annual average income of $38,410 (www.bls.gov). If you were in the top ten percent of wage earners in this occupation during this period, you would have earned $56,130 or more annually. If you were in the bottom ten percent of wage earners in this occupation, you would have earned $24,720 annually or less.

Salary by Industry

The BLS reported that the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry paid the most in May 2012, resulting in an annual average income of $62,850. Scheduled air transportation and natural gas distribution also had high average annual salaries of $59,280 and $59,000, respectively.

The architectural and structural metals manufacturing industry had the highest employment level in May 2012, and the average pay was $16.98 per hour, which is $35,310 annually. The agriculture, construction and mining machinery manufacturing industry had the second-highest employment level. Its average pay was $17.45 an hour and $36,290 per year.

Salary by State

The top-paying state in May 2012 was Alaska, where the hourly average wage was $33.36 and the annual income was $69,390, according to the BLS. Mean annual wages for other states with the highest pay were $58,430 for Hawaii, $56,580 for the District of Columbia, $48,130 for Wyoming and $46,110 for Maryland. Idaho, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, Vermont and Iowa were some states with the lowest annual average pay. Professionals in these locations made average salaries of $22,490-$35,620.

Salary by Experience

According to January 2014 salary data from PayScale.com, welders possessing less than a year of experience had annual earnings of $25,000-$60,000. Those with 1-4 years of experience made $21,455-$50,932, while those with 5-9 years of experience made higher salaries of $26,850-$62,400. Salaries continued to increase to $29,300-$80,000 with 10-19 years of experience.

Job Outlook

Welders, cutters, solderers and brazers were expected to see 6% employment growth over the 2012 through 2022 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 2012 were Wyoming, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Oklahoma, according to the BLS.

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