What types of welder jobs are out there?
Many people think all welders are one in the same. In reality, there are a wide variety of different types of welders. Many job titles that trained welders use don’t even include “welder” in the title. Many different industries utilize welders and depending on the history or labor union involved, the title of the job can vary. Here’s few areas of welding and types of jobs you’ll find in them:
- These workers take install and maintain pipe systems usually in high pressure situations, unlike a plumber who deals with low pressure systems. Pipefitters work with carbon steel, stainless steel and different metals that require welding.
- These workers fabricate steel often times for steam and water boilers which are used for heating and hot water uses. Boilermakers use torch and welding techniques to create, cut and attach steel pieces to these systems. Boilermakers is a term generally used for those belonging to the Boilermakers labor union.
- Focusing on construction industry, Ironworkers work with steel structures which are used to build large buildings and bridges. They assemble pieces of steel and use various welding techniques in that process. Ironworkers is a term generally used for those belonging to the Ironworkers union.
Sheet Metal Workers
- Often working with thiner pieces of metal as compared to the other types of welders listed here, sheet metal workers deal in a wide range of industries such as air conditioning, appliances, heater construction and various other area which require sheet metal.
- A somewhat catch-all description, structural welders can work in all sorts of industries ranging from construction to transportation and engineering. These welders work with many types of materials.
- Once you’ve learned to weld in a certain discipline, welding instruction is always an in demand field. Vocational and trade schools are always looking for instructors. Colleges are also looking for adjunct and tenure track professors with welding skills. Additionally, some construction companies and large industries need their own internal instructors to teach their new hires and implement recurrent training for those with experience.
Welding Sales and Management
- Many welders end up shifting their career into the sales area. If you have good people and customer services skills this can be a lucrative field. Your past experience with welding will make you much more competitive than someone who has never welded before. If you were shopping for welding products, wouldn’t you rather buy from someone who’s actually done it versus someone who knows nothing about the actual skill of welding?
- This welding track requires the most formal education from the types of jobs listed here, with a four year college degree being the minimal requirement. Welding Engineers develop plans and documents that are critical to any production process.
- Those with welding experience can obtain their commercial diving certifications and learn wet and dry welding techniques. You’ll need a good grasp of standard welding techniques but in the end, underwater welding is very different than what you’d do on land. Additionally, the physical demands of the job are much more than your typical welder.
- These professionals are responsible for examining the work of welders to make sure they meet codes, regulations, policies and procedures. There is a lot more to the job than just looking at welds. You’ll need good writing and technical skills to write reports and convey highly technical detail to others you work with. These people tend to be very detailed oriented and observant. If you’re a perfectionist, this might be a good career for you.
Where are welding jobs at?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists job outlooks for most career fields. The latest numbers project 6% growth from 2012-2022. It’s commonly estimated that by 2020, there will be a shortage of over 200,000 welders in the United States. So why is this happening?
A major impact on this career field is that the baby boomer generation is a major portion of this workforce, with some estimates that the average age of the welding workforce is older than 55. The manufacturing industry struggled in the 1980’s and 1990’s in the United States so not too many new welders were added to the payrolls of companies. However, there’s been a recent resurgence of the manufacturing industry in the United States and that’s created a new demand for jobs like welders. Add in the fact than many welders are union members and have above average retirement plans which don’t force them to work well past retirement age, there’s a big demand for these workers to be replaced in the coming years.
Obviously anyone who is willing to relocate is going to have a better chance of landing a job. There has been an oil and gas boom in the United States and that left many areas like North Dakota and Texas in desperate need of welders. But many areas that have traditionally had large numbers of welders such as California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois are all places that will need to replace those folks retiring in the coming years. Those may be places with large amounts of welding but remember that welding is needed everywhere, from large cities to small towns and rural locales.
Do you like to travel or would you like to live in a different culture? Don’t forget that you are not limited to just looking for welding jobs in the United States. As the world experiences more globalization, the demand for welders spreads across the globe. Many American and foreign companies in high growth areas hire welders on contract for assignments overseas. These can be very lucrative jobs with high pay and bonuses such as housing expenses paid for. Another benefit of working overseas is that sometimes the salary you earn can be tax free due to the foreign income tax exclusion allowances the United States government offers. If you’re willing to move overseas, even temporarily, there are some great opportunities to be had.
Want to learn more about welding salary? Here’s our welding salary guide.