What is the job demand in the welding industry? Welding jobs are some of the highest-paid jobs in the skilled trades. But those that are considering welding as a career may be wondering what the demand for welders actually is.
While predicting future demand in any profession can be complicated, there are many factors that point to a bright future in the welding industry.
Here’s a look at the current job market, factors impacting the industry, job opportunities to consider, and some tips for landing the right position!
Current Status of Welding Jobs
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders in 2020 earned a median pay of $44,190 per year or $21.25 per hour. This makes welding a worthwhile and rewarding career for those that enter it.
Pay varies based on the actual job, for example, underwater welders are likely to earn more than topside welders working construction. But, generally speaking, compensation for welding jobs is pretty good.
In 2019 there were 438,900 welding jobs in the US that number is expected to grow by at least 3% between now and 2029. That may seem like a small amount but it is on pace with other careers and may grow even more depending on some of the factors we will discuss below.
Welding jobs do not require formal education beyond high school or a GED but they do often need some skills training. In some instances, this training may be offered on the job or will require specialized training courses to be completed before hiring.
Despite the push towards automation in industrial manufacturing and similar industries, the need for human welders remains high. Even with robotic precision and accuracy, there are some tasks that are best completed by human operators.
Factors Impacting Job Demand in the Welding Industry 2021
There are a number of factors impacting jobs and welding demand in 2021 and beyond. Here are just a few of the things shaping the future of welding careers.
Retirement of Current Welders
The retirement of the boomer generation is impacting job numbers across the board and welding jobs are no exception.
It is expected that by 2024, there will be a shortage of 400,000 welders. At the moment, the average age of welders is 55 years and if fewer than 20% of welders are under the age of 35, the increase in job opportunities will persist for some time.
For people uncertain about the trades or sustainable work options, welding is a great choice!
A Shortage of Skilled Tradespeople is Driving Demand
For the last several decades, the education system and American society have been pushing young people away from entering the trades in favor of “loftier” pursuits. But, this push has led to a diminished number of tradespeople and has driven demand in the field.
This, coupled with the retirement of older welders as mentioned above, means now is the perfect time to learn the trade and enter a rewarding, lucrative career.
Certainly, a college graduate may enter the workforce at a higher rate of pay than someone just starting a welding job. But, when you factor in student debt load and actual job demand, welding comes out on top.
Manufacturing is on the Rise
Welding is a skill that is used across a number of different industries including military applications, the automotive and aerospace sectors, construction, and the energy sector.
As manufacturing returns to the US and production increases, the demand for welders will increase along with it.
While each one of these sectors will require a slightly different application, welding skills are transferable, meaning that working in one does not preclude you from working in another. You may be required to increase proficiency in different welding techniques or have to upgrade certifications, but the options exist to move between jobs in manufacturing as the need arises.
Automation is Not a Concern
Welding automation has allowed for faster, consistent, repeatable results. But, there are some working conditions where automation is not possible and the agility of human welders will always be in demand.
Beyond that, there will be an increase in demand for individuals with knowledge of welding materials and welding skills to support the development and application of connected technologies, robotics, digital solutions, and automation.
While automation can improve human efforts, it cannot necessarily replace them.
The United States is facing an increase in concern about its aging infrastructure. From water and energy pipelines to bridges and overpasses, welders will be needed to repair, restore, and replace many elements that support our daily lives.
As government initiatives turn toward fixing the crumbling infrastructure, welding jobs will be created and sustained.
Popular Welding Job Opportunities
Here’s an idea of what might be available:
Shipbuilding and Repair
Ships require watertight joints and welding is the most effective way to fuse two pieces of metal together to achieve that result.
Welders working in this field may be employed in shipyards or they may travel from port to port to inspect and repair ships as they are docked.
Sometimes welders are employed as part of a ship’s permanent crew to ensure the vessel’s safety and function while in transit.
Cruise ships may also employ welders as part of their maintenance team.
Cars are mostly made of metal and welders play an important role in the maintenance and repair of motor vehicles.
These jobs can be found at dealerships, garages, and collision repair centers.
Underwater welding is not for the faint of heart. This is a high-risk position and as such, also carries some of the highest compensation rates.
Underwater welds may occur offshore at great depths, near shore in shallower waters, or in dry conditions produced by a hyperbaric chamber.
Underwater welders can be found working offshore oil rigs, dams, bridges, ships, pipelines, sub-sea habitats, and nuclear power facilities.
One industry that employs a large number of welders is the oil and gas industry.
Rig welders set up the steel foundations of oil and construction rigs.
In most instances, rig welders remain onsite for the duration of the job to perform any required repairs or maintenance. They may also be tasked with welding collars and pipes as needed.
Compensation for these welding jobs is typically quite high as welders may be required to be on the job for very long hours with 24/7 availability.
Welding jobs are very common in the construction industry. Many construction projects use metal in their processes.
Commercial and residential construction provide a range of different opportunities because the needs of each vary widely.
Welders in residential construction often work with the piping that carries gas and water to and from the house. These welders will also need to understand plumbing to ensure that all lines are properly routed.
In commercial jobs, welders will have to deal with more complex plumbing infrastructure, electrical conduits, and HVAC systems.
Custom Car Builds and Modifications
For car enthusiasts, this type of welding job is a dream come true.
Welding skills, combined with mechanical knowledge, can lead to a job working in a custom shop building hot rods and rat rods, performing restorations, or tricking out cars to client specifications.
If you have an eye for detail or like intricate work, this may be the right welding job for you.
Jeweler design and repair requires weldings to work with soft metals to fabricate, resize, and repurpose jewelry pieces and produce ornate results.
Boilermakers are specialized welders that build, install and repair boilers or large-scale containers that are made to hold liquids or gases.
This job can be physically demanding as welders are often working in tight spaces with high humidity levels and temperatures.
Boilermakers are most often found in refineries or at natural resource companies. But, they can also be found working on the manufacture or repair of air pollution equipment, blast furnaces, water treatment plants, process and storage tanks, and smokestacks.
Industrial Maintenance/Shutdown Workers
For industries that rely on heavy machinery and equipment to carry out operations, it is not unusual to experience damage, wear and tear, and breakdowns.
Industrial maintenance workers look after the machines and equipment to ensure that everything remains functional and that small repairs are performed to prevent catastrophic failure.
Being offline for even a few hours can be devastating to a business’s bottom line. Industrial maintenance workers try to prevent shutdowns and maintain operations.
Industrial shutdown workers perform repairs and maintenance on equipment that has been taken offline. With some equipment, it would be impossible to perform repairs while in operation. These welders work quickly to perform repairs and get things back to running.
Tips for Landing a Welding Job
With welders in growing demand, it is likely that if you have the right skills, you will have no trouble finding work. But, to help increase your chances for success, here are a few suggestions.
Explore Your Options
Welding careers cover a range of jobs and industries. Do not limit yourself to what you think you know about welding. Explore a number of career opportunities and job postings.
If you are willing to travel or work long hours, there are even more opportunities available. Think about your interests, your current skill set, and the needs of you and any family you may have. Maybe taking a job with the local construction company is perfect for you or maybe you’d rather travel the world on a cruise ship or serve your country as a welder with the military.
Keep an open mind and find the fit that is right for you. And if you can’t find the right fit, create your own. Maybe you open your own shop or you fabricate fabulous items that you can sell for a profit. The options are relatively endless.
Enroll in a Welding Program
The good news is that to become a welder you do not need to spend years in school trying to get a fancy degree. While there are really great programs available at trade schools, there are many other ways to acquire the skills you need to land a welding job.
One is to, as mentioned, attend a trade school to learn the craft. Some industries, like construction, may provide on-the-job training and all you need to do from there is gain experience and maybe do some skills training outside of work hours if you wish to move on to a different welding career.
If you don’t want to spend time in an academic program, consider enrolling in a program like Welder 101. For less than $500 you will be given lifetime access to an ever-growing comprehensive library of welding tutorials, access to an online community of peers and industry professionals, discounts on the equipment and gear that you need.
With this program, you can learn at your own pace and focus on the skills that you most wish to develop.
Obtain Certifications as Needed
Some desirable welding positions may require certain certifications. Be aware of this when considering your options. You may be able to obtain some of them through employment but if you can come to the table already certified, will certainly present as a more desirable candidate.
The amount of time it takes to obtain the appropriate certifications will depend on your experience level and the certification itself.
One place to look for what certifications may be required is the American Welding Society. From them, you can learn everything you need to know about the certifications available and what is involved in the process.
If you are interested in working in the energy sector, explore the certifications offered through The American Petroleum Institute.
Again, certifications may not be necessary but they should, at the very least, be on your radar.
It is also important to know that you may be required to obtain a license. Some states and municipalities require welders to become both certified and licensed in order to work.
If you are thinking of a career in welding, check local and state regulations and determine how you need to proceed.
Change Your Career Path Today
Welding jobs are important and they are not going anywhere any time soon. Demand for welders is only going to grow over the next 10 years which means that not only are there jobs currently available, the jobs will be sustainable in the future, too!
If you are thinking about a career in welding or want to upgrade your skills to qualify for a new position, Welder 101 is an excellent place to start.
The program will help you grow and develop skills in a fun and easy-to-follow format. Learn what you want, when you want, and carve out the space that’s right for you. Get started today!