Eleana Bowman
Community Specialist
Posted September 15, 2021

What are the highest paying welding jobs?

Learn what welders do, how much they make, and what welding jobs are hiring right now. Discover the highest-paying welding jobs you can find right now!
Eleana Bowman
Community Specialist
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What are the highest paying welding jobs?
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Do you want to try out a manual labor job that offers a career path that can lead to high-paid opportunities?

If this is the case, welding may be a good fit for you. You can start welding with little to no education or skill, and the most experienced and skilled welders can make six figures depending on where they work.

This article will look at what welders do, the highest-paying welding jobs, and where you can find a welding job.

What is a welder?

A welder uses intense heat and gas to join metal together. They also repair metal constructions using the same techniques.

Welding is an in-demand, high-paying, and skilled manual trade that’s required worldwide. Employers need welders for all sorts of manufacturing, industrial, and construction applications. Welders can also work on shipbuilding and oil rigs.

Different welding jobs require different sets of skills. New and lower-skilled welders don’t know as much about the metal properties or how to produce the strongest welds.

They’ll typically work in home construction, assembly lines, and other low-risk fields. Their work is more repetitive than that of a skilled welder. But you can start as an unskilled welder if you have a high school diploma.

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Skilled welders, on the other hand, know the properties of several types of metal. They have knowledge of advanced welding techniques, like arc welding or MIG welding, and can even hand-weld on almost any kind of structure.

Skilled welders will typically make more money than unskilled welders since they’re more in-demand and know more types of welding processes.

How much do welders typically make?

Welding can be one of the highest-paying blue-collar jobs on the market, especially for positions that require lots of specialized training and skills.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average welder's salary is $44,190 per year or $21.25 per hour. But the highest 10% of welders earn over $78,250 per year.

The 12 highest-paying welding jobs

There are several different types of welding jobs in the welding industry.

Many people don’t qualify for the highest-paying jobs available in welding since they require skill, experience, and specialization. These jobs can also be dangerous.

Because these positions are hard to get into, workers qualified for these full-time roles are in high demand.

Here are 12 of the highest paying welding jobs and what they entail:

1. Nuclear welder

As a nuclear welder, you’ll work around nuclear materials, such as nuclear-powered vessels. You’ll also work in shipyards and other locations.

To have permission to work with nuclear materials, you need to get cleared by the FBI first. You’ll also need to pass regular drug and alcohol tests to keep your job. Mistakes as a nuclear welder can be dangerous — not just for you but also for the people around you.

Some nuclear welding jobs will require additional certifications, like underwater welding and commercial diving.

How much does a nuclear welder make?

The average salary for a nuclear welder is $52,120 per year.

Browse nuclear welder positions on Jobcase.

2. Military support welder

Private companies aren’t the only organizations that need support from welders. Military installations also need to be built, maintained, and repaired.

In some cases, these installations are located in war zones. Because of the risk of working in such locations, welders for the military are well-compensated.

To become a military support welder, you’ll need to join the military and be an active armed forces member. That’s a choice with many implications, so it’s important to consider whether the military is for you before you decide to take on this kind of welding career.

How much does a military support welder make?

The average salary for a military support welder is $47,397 a year.

Browse military positions on Jobcase.

3. Rig welder

Rig welders are among the highest-paid welders in the world. You need several years of welding experience before employers consider you for this type of job.

You also need advanced qualifications and a higher level of education than what’s required for a regular welding job.

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Rig welders will usually do:

  • Hyperbaric welding

  • Underwater welding

  • Welding on offshore rigs

But some will weld inland, too. Typically, you’ll do all of the above at one time or another during your career. The hours are long and difficult, and you’ll usually live on your rig for several weeks or even months.

Because of these hours and the risks involved in underwater and hyperbaric welding, rig welders are well-compensated.

How much does a rig welder make?

The average salary for a rig welder is $81,380 per year.

You can browse rig welder positions on Jobcase.

4. Industrial pipe welder

Industrial pipe welders are in charge of building, maintaining, and repairing gas and oil pipelines.

Pipeline leaks can cause catastrophic damage to the environment and will be extremely costly to the employer, so welders who work on these pipelines need to be highly skilled and experienced.

When you do pipeline welding on industrial gas and oil pipelines, you’ll often need to travel for work. Pipelines can span thousands of miles across several countries.

This is both a pro and a con. Pipe welders get to see interesting new places and are paid well to do it. But you’ll also need to work under harsh conditions like the sweltering heat in the Middle East or the extreme cold of Alaska.

How much does an industrial pipe welder make?

The average salary for a pipe welder is $50,520 per year.

You can browse pipe welder positions on Jobcase.

5. Underwater welder

Underwater welders have one of the riskiest jobs in the world, which is why they’re so well-paid.

As the name suggests, underwater welders often need to work under the surface of the ocean.

This work can be done on oil rigs, but it can also be done on shipwrecks, subsea constructions, and other underwater structures. Because of this, you’ll need to become a certified commercial diver before you get the additional education needed to become an underwater welder.

Employers require wet welding D3.6m certification, which you can get from the American Welding Society (AWS).

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How much does an underwater welder make?

The average yearly salary for an underwater welder is $65,640 per year.

You can browse underwater welder positions on Jobcase.

6. Welder helper

Welder helpers help more experienced welders perform their job duties. They clean and maintain tools and rig welds, organize the work area, and set up rigs. These workers do minor tasks such as cutting and brazing.

A welder helper checks temperatures and loads materials onto trucks.

Welder helpers need to be knowledgeable and understand how to operate machinery. If you’re interested in working as a welder helper, you’ll need to be physically fit. The role can involve heights, extreme temperatures, and long periods on your feet.

You’ll need a high school diploma, but most training is done on the job. Some welder helpers complete a short course at a welding school or get an apprenticeship.

How much does a welder helper make?

The average salary for a welder helper is ​​$25,306 per year.

You can browse welder helper positions on Jobcase.

7. Cutter

Cutters are similar to welders, but they don’t join metals. Instead, they cut metal components to a specific size using high heat tools and gases.

These workers are also responsible for taking apart metal objects. For example, they can dismantle cars, boats, planes, and even buildings. The job can include indoor and outdoor projects, as well as metal cutting in confined spaces.

You can expect long shifts and overtime, with cutters often working 12-hour days. Some positions are entry-level, with on-the-job training. But you can increase your chances of getting hired by completing a short course.

To be successful, you’ll need to be physically fit and have basic math skills. You’ll also need mechanical skills and manual dexterity.

How much does a cutter make?

The average salary for a cutter is $34,480 per year.

Browse cutter job opportunities on Jobcase.

8. Boilermaker

A boilermaker will be involved if a project has a boiler, vat, or container with liquid or gas inside.

They make and install these boilers and vats and make repairs as necessary. Boilermakers use their planning skills to read blueprints and assemble boiler parts.

They clean and maintain boilers and use a range of tools and equipment.

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Boilermakers often work outdoors, and many of their jobs are in tight spaces with poor ventilation. If you want to be a boilermaker, you’ll need to be strong, comfortable with heights, and good with your hands.

To work as a boilermaker, you’ll need to complete a four-year apprenticeship. You should be prepared to work away from home for long periods.

How much does a boilermaker make?

The average wage for a boilermaker is $60,840 per year.

Browse boilermaker job opportunities on Jobcase.

9. Welding supervisor

Every project needs someone with experience to oversee it, and welding supervisors make sure things run smoothly.

They ensure the worksite is safe, manage budgets, and check that any welding work has been done to a high standard. Welding supervisors are highly skilled and give advice to other members of the welding team.

They attend meetings, write reports, and strive to meet goals. If there are any workplace incidents, they'll be referred to the welding supervisor.

To succeed in this role, you’ll need to have problem-solving skills, experience as a welding technician, and a certification.

You’ll need to be a leader with great attention to detail and organizational and multitasking skills.

How much does a welding supervisor make?

The average salary for a welding supervisor is $47,580 per year.

You can browse welding supervisor positions on Jobcase.

10. Welding instructor

Welding instructors train those who want to learn how to be a welder. They work in welding schools and metal shops and have years of experience in the industry.

Welding instructors give students practical tasks such as soldering and brazing. These instructors make sure the new welders understand workplace safety and the correct way to use machinery.

Students learn about different conditions that can affect the results of their welding. Welding instructors teach group classes as well as one-on-one with students.

To work as a welding instructor, you’ll need good communication skills and the ability to read blueprints. You’ll need to be a certified welding inspector or equivalent, with a thorough understanding of welding and cutting.

How much does a welding instructor make?

The average salary for a welding instructor is $48,643 per year.

You can browse welding instructor positions on Jobcase.

11. Aerospace welder

Aerospace welders work on welding projects for aviation, defense, and space applications. This position requires highly skilled workers who can weld various metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, and carbon steel.

Aerospace welders install, repair, and maintain components. The job involves high temperatures, tight spaces, and heights. There may also be hazardous materials present.

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To work as an aerospace welder, you’ll need strong technical skills. You’ll need to be physically fit and confident working in confined spaces. Due to the risks involved, you’ll need to make safety a top priority.

Aerospace welders often have to work away from home or move to find a suitable position.

How much does an aerospace welder make?

The average salary for an aerospace welder is $41,300 per year.

You can browse aerospace welder positions on Jobcase.

12. Certified welding inspector

Certified welding inspectors are responsible for checking the quality of work. They also help to maintain the safety of the work environment.

They're knowledgeable in local rules and regulations and make sure the project meets these high standards. They check plans, materials, and welding equipment.

Welding inspectors write detailed reports about what they've witnessed. And they make recommendations based on their findings.

To become a certified welding inspector, you’ll need at least three years of welding experience. Most inspectors have a bachelor’s degree or workshop training. When you’re ready, you can complete an exam to gain a welding certification.

How much does a certified welding inspector make?

The average salary for a certified welding inspector is $55,880 per year.

You can browse welding inspector positions on Jobcase.

High-paying welding jobs hiring right now

Do you think you have all the qualifications required to find high-paying welding jobs?

On Jobcase, you can find pipe welding jobs hiring right now. You can also search for other high-paying welding jobs, like underwater welding or tig welding.

But suppose you don’t yet have the years of experience and all the certifications required for these high-paying positions. In that case, you can start your search with entry-level welding positions.

Once you’ve built up your skills, you can consider switching to a more lucrative position.

Become a high-paid welder

Welding is a relatively easy career to start, and there are entry-level welder positions with on-the-job training.

Welders work in various industries, and jobs include nuclear welders, military support welders, rig welders, industrial pipeline welders, underwater welders, welder helpers, cutters, boilermakers, welding supervisors, aerospace welders, and certified welding instructors.

The job can involve traveling long distances, heights, hazardous materials, and tight spaces.

If you can work long hours under harsh conditions and are willing to build up the skills and certifications, it can become a highly lucrative career.

Start your job search for welding jobs on Jobcase and get notified when new welding opportunities open up near you!

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Eleana Bowman
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Maria C L Ramirez

My Son wanted to try becoming a Welder! I suggested further research with tenured Welders! Common factor - throughout the years in this trade, sight was affected greatly! He opted for Physical Therapist! 👍

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