What to Know About Being a Welder
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- Welding jobs should grow by 8% from 2020-2030.
- Aging bridges, highways, and infrastructure will increase demand for welders.
- Welding jobs pay good salaries, especially for senior welders.
- With a high school diploma or GED, you can become a welder.
Skilled welders have always been needed ever since the Bronze Age. The trade will only grow in the next decade. Each year from 2020-2030 will see about 49,200 job openings for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs in welding are projected to grow at an 8% rate, as quickly as all other occupations.
A welding career only requires a high school diploma or GED certificate, along with training. Apprenticeships can provide work experience, but trade schools are where students can earn a certificate or degree in welding, often in a year or less.
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What does a welder do? On this page, we break down what it takes to become a welder and what welding jobs pay.
What Does a Welder Do?
Most welders — about 64% — work in manufacturing. They also work as specialty trade contractors, in repair and maintenance, or are self-employed. Many other industries employ welders, such as car racing and shipbuilding.
Welders perform repairs, preventative maintenance, safety checks, and work from prints. Their specific duties and responsibilities depend on the position, but generally, their job entails:
- Reading blueprints or specifications to determine product dimensions
- Maintaining and cleaning welding equipment and machines
- Understanding safety protocols for flame torches and power supplies
- Melting, fusing, and cutting metals using appropriate melding methods
- Joining metal parts and monitoring the flame temperature to prevent overheating
What Is a Welder's Career Outlook?
The demand for welders will grow from 2020-2030. Some 418,200 welders work in the United States as of 2020, with projected employment rising to 452,400 by 2030, according to the BLS.
Demand for welding will only increase as highways and bridges deteriorate and cities improve infrastructure. Seasoned welders will continue to retire, fueling a greater need for welders.
To replace senior welders, those new to the industry can gain certifications and specialized skills at trade schools or organizations.
What Is a Welder's Salary Potential?
The top 10% of welders earned an annual salary of more than $66,250 in 2020, according to the BLS. Earnings for welders vary by industry, experience, and location. Welders earned a median annual salary of $44,190 as of May 2020. Specialty trade contractors made a median annual wage of $48,420.
The skills needed to become a welder also apply to jobs as boilermakers, industrial machine mechanics, and ironworkers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Welding Careers
Is being a welder a good career?
Welding is a great career if you want to pursue a trade that offers mobility and a good salary. The industry will only continue to grow in the future as infrastructure ages and senior welders retire, which means trade school graduates have ample opportunities for career expansion.
What skills are needed to become a welder?
Welders must have a solid understanding of metals and welding processes. The job often requires lifting heavy materials on construction sites. They need to calculate dimensions to weld parts and interpret blueprints and other technical documents. The role also requires knowledge of how to safely use saws and torches.
How long does it take to become a welder?
How long it takes to become a welder depends on your educational pathway. Earning an associate degree in welding takes at least two years. Students can complete a certificate in welding in 6-12 months. Earning certification in a specialized welding topic will require additional time.
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