Welding is a hands-on job with many potential career paths you can choose from. The best welding jobs provide a competitive wage, strong benefits, career stability and can come with a sense of accomplishment. ere are some of the details of the ten best welding jobs—in no particular order--to help you in your career path:
1. Rig welder
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Rig welders are some of the highest-paid welders, averaging about $77,000 per year, but they often work long hours under challenging conditions. Since mistakes in these types of welding jobs could spell disaster, only the very best welders are considered for these sought after positions. Candidates will need years of experience and multiple certifications to be hired since they will likely be welding various offshore oil rigs.
Most rig welders live on the rig they service, but they can take daily helicopter flights to and from their rigs. Either way, the assignments can last for months, with 12-hour days as the norm.
2. Underwater welder
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Underwater welders earn about $54,000 annually, although the top ten percent can make closer to $85,000. Those who choose these types of welding jobs need special training plus an underwater welder certification. They need to be certified commercial divers, understand barometric pressure, and operate a decompression chamber.
Underwater welders usually perform one of two types of welding: wet or dry welding. Wet welding means the welder is submerged in the water while working and uses special welding tools. Dry welding consists of working within a closed, oxygen-filled hyperbaric underwater chamber.
3. Industrial pipeline welders
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Industrial pipeline welders use various welding techniques and equipment to install and maintain pipelines in all kinds of environments. They typically work long days and may find the extreme weather conditions challenging, ranging from the swamps' oppressive heat to the mind-numbing cold of winters in Alaska.
Most industrial pipeline welders earn between $44,000 and $83,000 annually, with some going as high as $133,500! But these jobs can be difficult and outright dangerous. It is not uncommon to be welding in awkward positions or while standing in water, so those looking at these jobs must have the training, experience, and adaptability.
4. Military support welder
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There are numerous options for welders in the military. You could be repairing equipment in the states, welding pipelines in the Middle East, or doing underwater welding in a shipyard. Any military job has the potential to be dangerous, and welding is no exception. Because of this, military support welders are paid well, averaging close to $48,000 per year.
The type of work that you could be assigned as a welder in the military will depend on the branch of service. For example, Air Force welders must to be highly skilled and knowledgeable about the complex aircrafts they work on. Navy welders will be repairing and maintaining ships, which means you might need underwater welding skills. And welders in the Army can expect to spend their time repairing equipment, some of which may be in the field.
5. Aerospace welder
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Although aerospace welders might not earn as much as those in other industries, they still average around $45,000 annually. Most of them work in manufacturing, helping to build planes, helicopters, and spacecraft. Others are involved primarily in maintenance and repair. Aerospace welders must be proficient in working with various metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, magnesium, and carbon steel.
In addition to their direct welding tasks, aerospace welders may also be required to study sketches and blueprints and inspect materials and equipment to ensure safety.
6. Certified welding inspector
Certified welding inspectors (CWI) are paid well (an average of $57,000 annually) and have responsibilities that merit a high salary. CWIs prevent catastrophic failures by performing safety checks on the welds done by others. They inspect welds for cracks and other defects using equipment such as stress-testing tools and magnifiers. Inspectors also inspect materials and equipment before any welding is started and may perform documentation reviews.
Certified welding inspectors generally need at least five years of industry experience or, in some cases, an associate degree in engineering technology and three years' experience.
7. Nuclear industry welders
Nuclear industry welders have a dangerous job and are regularly exposed to alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Even with strict safety protocols in place, this type of welding gig definitely has some risks others do not. They average $67,000 per year for their risk, with the highest-paid bringing in upwards of $140,000!
Welders in the nuclear industry might work on pipelines, underwater, or in the military. They must pass a demanding screening process, including FBI clearance, to become nuclear certified, making it one of the most difficult welding positions to obtain.
8. Certified welding supervisor
Certified welding supervisors merge their welding and leadership skills to become managers. They direct a team of welders, ensuring that they are working safely and finishing their projects with quality welds on time and within budget. Certified welding supervisors almost always have many years of experience, and they have typically earned supervisor certification from the American Welding Society.
Some of the other duties of a certified welding supervisor include determining what type of materials and welding techniques to use, inspecting the work, calculating costs, and collaborating with project management. The average welding supervisor earns approximately $56,000 per year.
9. Welding engineer
To be a welding engineer, you'll need a bachelor's degree and certification through the American Welding Society. You'll also need to stay up to date on all the latest trade advancements in the welding world. It's the welding engineer's responsibility to incorporate new techniques into the employer's processes to enhance them and make the company more efficient.
Welding engineers must use their knowledge to improve the overall level of quality within the organization. For that, they receive over $83,000 per year on average.
10. Combo welder
In case you are not familiar with the term "combo welder," it refers to a welder who manufactures, repairs, and maintains metal parts—a “jack of all trades” welder if you will. Combination welders are often hired for construction work, where they help with the welding of the beams and other structural components. Combination welders are trained in multiple welding techniques, and they can work with various types of steels and alloys. They also know how to use different equipment and tools, adding to their versatility and value.
Do you have other questions about a welding career?
PrimeWeld is a professional welding dealer and is here to answer your questions on welding as a career, the best equipment to use, and the supplies you will need. Contact any of our PrimeWeld pros, and they will be happy to assist you any way they can!