Welding is among the highest paying skilled trades in the country with a median entry-level wage of over $40,000 per year or about $20 per hour. It's also an accessible career since the requirement to begin learning the trade is usually a high school diploma (or GED).
The table below shows the pertinent statistics related to welding. While the welding job outlook might appear modest at a 3% growth rate, there are specific factors that could boost the future demand for welders.
|Occupational Outlook for Welders|
|2019 Median Pay||$42,490 per year
$20.43 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|On-the-job Training||Moderate-term on-the-job training|
|Number of Jobs, 2019||438,900|
|Job Outlook, 2019-29||3% (As fast as average)|
|Employment Change, 2019-29||13,600|
The future of welding jobs could be brighter than predicted
As mentioned, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a three-percent growth in welding jobs over the next ten years, which is in line with the average for all occupations. But that figure might not be taking into account the enormity of some issues the industry will face.
Future demand for welders will be affected by retiring "boomers"
According to the American Welding Society, the industry will encounter a shortage of about 300,000 welders by 2024. The average age of a welder today is around 55, which means the continuing retirements of baby boomers will leave the country with a substantial deficit in skilled welders. Because of this shortage of welders, welding will be a sustainable career choice for years to come with numerous job opportunities for those wanting to enter the field.
Schools stopped encouraging students to enter the skilled trades
Gardner Carrick is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for The Manufacturing Institute at the National Association of Manufacturers. In a recent article from Bloomberg Business, he said, "For 20 years we stopped feeding young people into the trades, and now we're scrambling to catch up."
Now, with the resurgence of manufacturing, coupled with the many current welders that are reaching retirement age, there are not nearly enough young welders to fill all those gaps. While a new welder may not command quite as much in a starting salary as a recent college graduate, when you consider that many college graduates enter the workforce with substantial student loan debt, a lot more of the welders' earnings stay in their pockets.
Manufacturing has been growing faster than the rest of the U.S. economy
Many industries use welding--military applications, automotive, aerospace, new construction, natural gas pipelines, and many more—and all of these contribute to the growing demand for professional welders. The aging infrastructure in the United States will also require welders to help rebuild buildings, highways, and bridges.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has pointed out that since the necessary required welding skills are the same across industries, welders can move from one sector to another. For example, a welder who worked as a fabricator could probably find a job in the automotive manufacturing industry or even in the oil and gas industry. This kind of flexibility adds an element of security to a career that is already in demand.
With welding being so essential to the country's economy, the welding job outlook is brighter than ever.
Future demand for welders will continue despite efforts to automate
There is no denying that welding automation does allow for higher productivity and repeatable quality. Still, there will always be some areas and conditions where robotic welding will not be possible. The agility and mobility of skilled welders will never be replaced by automation.
Not only that, but a new crop of young individuals will be required to work on connectivity, digital solutions, and automation as the welding processes change just as they have in other industries.
Land a high-paying welding job with the right training
Even though the demand for welders is high right now, employers continue to favor welders who have some training. They prefer to recruit those who have relevant welder training and can use proper safety practices.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has reported that 60 percent of the manufacturers looking to hire are rejecting about half of all applicants because they lack welding skills and training. NAM also says that over 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers complain that they cannot find enough skilled welders to meet the demand.
So, how does the current job market for welders look? Pretty darn good!