Are you an experienced welder looking to get into side work? As the demand for welders grows, it’s possible to make extra income by turning an at-home welding hobby or a career into a profitable side-hustle. You don’t have to give up your day job—not yet, at least. And in many cases, you could end up earning a higher hourly rate than you do from your employer.
So, if you have decided to make money welding on the side, you’re heading in the right direction. But your first step is to make sure what you intend to do is legal. And your second one is finding out what opportunities are available.
Let’s consider the legalities upfront and then move on to a few small welding business ideas to get you up and running.
Start your side hustle on firm legal ground
If you’re already working in a welding shop, you need to know what your contract says about side work. Some companies might be okay with it, but others could sack you or pursue legal action against you. Take the proper precautions (talk to an attorney, if necessary), and make sure you are not infringing on your contractual obligation.
Once you have the legalities sorted out, you can decide how to make money welding on the side. Let’s start with a few fabrication ideas to make money without interfering with your day job:
1. Make and sell art or furniture
Many people love metal sculptures and furniture inside their homes and outside in their gardens. Most of these pieces were created by welders just like you, and you can tap into this high-demand market by finding a niche, too.
Start by looking at a platform such as Etsy. You can see what others are doing and determine which items are selling (and for how much) by checking the number of reviews. Keep in mind that you’ll have to do more than welding. A side business will require you to sell your creations by making writeups, producing good photographs, and building profiles on various platforms.
While you probably won’t make as much money as other side gigs, you will make some extra cash. Some of the things to weld and sell on eBay include:
- Picture frames
- Coat racks
- Door handles
- Jewelry holders
- Shelf brackets
- Scrap metal flowers
- Coffee and end tables
- Wine racks
2. Repair work
Companies rely on small, independent weld shops for most of their repairs. Why? They can have the work done quickly because smaller shops have the schedule flexibility to get right on the job. And they repair without charging the high overhead rates of larger firms. People will find you if you can get businesses a better price by doing the work in your garage or workshop.
Focusing on one type of work is a good idea when you start. Here is a list of specialty work to concentrate your efforts on. None of these requires expensive equipment:
- Trailer repairs and modifications
- Autobody welding: Offer onsite welding to get more jobs
- Aluminum boat repair: Post signs near a dock
- Fence and railing repair: Drop a business card in the mailbox when you see a damaged fence. Also, look for industrial areas where there are more metal fences.
It’s important to do plenty of research on Google or YouTube before you try repairing anything. Developing a good reputation immediately is critical since you’ll find most of your repair work by word of mouth.
3. Fabricate new trailers
In addition to modifying and repairing existing trailers, you might want to consider fabricating new ones. It will require some upfront money for the materials, but you should see some nice profits after you get rolling. You can find some free plans online that line up with the American trailer standards.
It’s best to start with a common-size trailer since this will give you a larger pool of potential customers. After you have finished, you can advertise the trailers on a platform such as eBay or Facebook.
4. Find overflow work
If you can develop relationships with some local metalworking shops, you can put yourself in line for some of their excess work. Many shops don’t want to hire workers when things ramp up because they are concerned about laying them off when the work level subsides. Their solution is to use freelancers or sub-contact the overflow when they get swamped. If you have offered your services to them in advance, you’ll have an opportunity for side work.
Small machine shops are also a great option since they don’t need a full-time in-house welder and would rather sub-out the welding to experienced people. Machine shops frequently get welding jobs as part of a larger project, so it makes more sense to give the welding operations to someone they can trust and concentrate on the machining end.
5. Take on jobbing work
Jobbing work can be a fun part of having a side hustle. You never get bored because each job is unique. And you have a better chance of getting this work because bigger shops consider these small jobs to be more hassle than they are worth.
So, let people know you are interested in taking on these odd jobs by getting the word out that you are an affordable welder willing to do small jobs. The diversity of work isn’t the only benefit of jobbing. If you treat your customers right, it won’t be long before they will be telling their friends about you, meaning you’ll soon have all the work you can handle.
6. Set up maintenance contracts
Many larger businesses shut down occasionally to do maintenance work on their machines and facilities. During these short closings, a lot of work is scheduled, and the companies need workers like contract welders to complete their projects. While the work will be difficult and fast-paced, the pay will be exceptional.
How much can you make welding on the side?
The rate for most weld shops ranges from $60 to $120 an hour, depending on the type of welding required. As an independent welder, you can charge anything under what the local shops are getting. Freelance welders charge $30 to $40 an hour for most of their work, which is more than most employers would pay you. If they go to the weld shop, they will pay about twice your rate, so they will typically choose to pay your rate as long as your quality and service are excellent.
Do you need a welding machine for your side hustle?
The PrimeWeld MIG160 MIG Welder is considered one of the best welders for professional or hobby welders. It features multiple controls and welding settings and is highly portable to move around any-sized job. Designed to ensure reliability, stability, and ease of use, the MIG160 welds magnesium, cast iron, mild steel, aluminum, copper and copper alloys, stainless steel, and more.