Welders are some of the most vital workers in the manufacturing industry. And over the past few years, many skilled welders have been reaching retirement age – leaving plenty of job opportunity for trained and skilled professionals. In fact, just a decade ago, the U.S. experienced a shortage of 250,000 welders! This trend will likely continue, offering plenty of job opportunities for those looking to get into the field.
If you’re considering a career in welding, and debating welding school, you may have some basic questions about the field: What exactly is welding? What are my career options? What is the pay like? How do I get started? Goodwin College breaks down all this – and more about welding careers – below.
What is Welding?
Welders help create many important parts and products used in our everyday lives. Simply put – a welder fuses metal together. Without welders, we would not have automobiles, airplanes, space crafts, buildings, bridges, pipelines, oil rigs, medical equipment, or even kitchen appliances! A skilled welder uses an exact and predetermined degree of heat to properly melt and fuse a particular type of metal. Therefore, successful welders know how to use different welding techniques for different purposes, and with different types of material. Experienced welding professionals are highly sought after in specialized fields, such as the Navy or large manufacturing businesses.
What do Welders do?
The daily duties of a welder vary greatly depending on their workplace in their role. Generally speaking, the welding job description entails:
- Reading and interpreting blueprints, sketches, or specifications of a desired product
- Calculating the dimensions of metal parts to be welded
- Inspecting materials and their structures before welding
- Igniting torches or starting power supplies to heat the metals
- Monitoring the welding process through-and-through, to avoid overheating
- Setting up, operating, and maintaining equipment and high-powered machinery
- Ensuring the safety of machine operation
Welding Job Outlook & Potential
If you are considering a career in welding, you are wise. While the numbers vary each year, there is steady growth in the field. In fact, welding is one of the most in-demand careers within the manufacturing industry, with job opportunities constantly opening up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), welding careers are expected to grow 6 percent by the year 2026 – largely due to the importance and versatility of the field.
Nationwide, the average annual salary for a welder is about $43,410. This includes the average pay for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, according to the BLS. The hourly salary for welders nationwide is almost $21 an hour, on average.
Of course, welding salaries vary based on a number of factors, such as your employer, position, and state of work. If you are living in Connecticut, for example, the salary potential is greater than the national average. Connecticut welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers can expect to make an average of $24.67 an hour – if working a full 40-hour week, this translates to over $50,000 a year. For those just starting out, the average entry-level welder salary in Connecticut is just over $16 an hour.
According to a 2017 BLS report, the top-paying industries for welders nationwide include:
- Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution: $76,600 annually
- Natural Gas Distribution: $76,360 annual welder salary
- Pipeline Transportation of Natural Gas: $65,180 annual wage
- Welders in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: $63,250 per year
- Coal Mining: $63,170 annually for welders in this industry
Many Career Paths
The field of welding can vary greatly and offer many different experiences, depending on your passion area. Still, most people hear the term welding and simply think: Welder. Despite popular belief, there are many other facets and specialties to discover within this field, such as:
- Solderers and Brazers
- Welding Machine Operators
- Welding Inspectors
- Welding Instructors
- Fabrication Welders
- Pipeline Welders and Pipefitters
- Structural Iron & Steel Workers
- Underwater Welders
Breaking into the Field
Welding careers are often non-traditional and innovative, making this a very attractive field for creators, visionaries, and those looking for a truly hands-on career. That said, welding is a fairly selective industry. Prospective workers should look to gain the competitive edge over other job candidates. While no advanced degrees are required to become an entry-level welder, employers are looking for welders who have been through training or credentialing programs, and who already have some experience. You can gain this certification and training with a great career-focused welding school like Goodwin College.
Our welding school offers a 24-credit certificate program in welding technology, which will give you the hands-on experience you need to launch a successful career. The coursework combines a blend of technical training, classroom learning, and hands-on experience, where you will actually work with professional welding equipment. You will work on shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, thermal cutting, and more. You will also learn directly on our CNC plasma table, our virtual reality welding machine, and our innovative, state-of-the-art Bluco table.
At Goodwin, you can complete your certificate and launch your welding career in as little as 8 months! You will have the option to take classes full or part-time, to accommodate your busy schedule.
You will also develop some of the top in-demand skills for welders, such as:
- Attention to detail and precision work
- Manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination
- Physical stamina to carry out repetitious movements
- Physical strength, to left heavy metal equipment and materials
- Spatial-orientation skills to understand and interpret blueprints or 2D and 3D diagrams
- Technical skills, such as manual and semiautomatic equipment operation
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.