With the average welder salary ranging from $40,000-$50,000 per year and demand for welders expected to grow 8% in the next 10 years, welding is a stable, profitable career choice. And welding is a skill that is needed across many different industries. So how do you become a welder, and how can you make sure you meet the qualifications to be a welder? Let’s take a look! 

What do welders do?

Welders create or repair metal products or goods by using heat to fuse multiple metals, such as brass, stainless steel, or aluminum. Depending on what metals they’re cutting and joining, welders may use a variety of different welding tools and equipment. But regardless of what equipment they use, welders are responsible for building or refurbishing something accurately and with care.

Welders can build and repair any number of things, such as housing or commercial structures, pipelines, aircraft, bridges, automobiles, and more. 

Welding is a particularly great career choice for those who like to work with their hands. Many welders cite being able to see their finished work as one of the most satisfying things about their job. Proper welding requires attention to detail and technical knowledge, and it allows welders to show off their creativity and skills. A quick Google search will show you how passionate welders—and the general public—are about the beautiful welding jobs that highly skilled welders are able to complete. 

What types of tasks do welders perform?

As part of their day-to-day routine, welders may review blueprints and drawings for a new project to determine the length and dimensions of the product being welded. They’ll take measurements and plan the layouts and procedures needed to complete a given project.

Based on those plans and on any other requirements for the job, a welder will determine what welding equipment and methods to use. He or she will set up components according to specifications, then prepare and align the different parts that will be welded together. They use specialized equipment to apply heat to the two components and then join them together. They may also use that same welding equipment to patch holes, repair machinery, and cut through materials. Throughout the welding process, welders must adhere to strict safety regulations and ensure that the flame and metals are kept to the correct temperature. 

Outside of time spent actively welding, welders also inspect surfaces and structures and maintain equipment. Workplace safety is especially important for welding, and all equipment and surfaces must be kept clean and stored properly.

Welder wearing a blue protective face mask with sparks and machinery

What types of equipment do welders use?

Welders use many different types of equipment and tools, such as stick welders, MIG welders, TIG welders, angle grinders, saws, squares, calipers, and clamps. The specific tool or piece of equipment used depends on what metal the welder is cutting or joining, as well as what the end product the welder is creating or repairing is. 

What is the typical schedule for a welder?

Welders usually work shifts and are paid hourly. The number of hours wlederswork and when welders work may vary by company, job, and location, but most welders typically work full-time or 40 hours a week. Depending on the project and on the employer, welders may work long or irregular hours that differ from the average work schedule. Welders may be able to request a certain schedule that aligns best with their personal or family preferences, but most welding job postings will list specific shift times. 

What kind of environment do welders work in?

Welders can work in a variety of locations, such as factories, construction sites, and other industrial locations. Locations where  welders work can vary depending on the company they work for and industry they work in—industries like the automobile industry, shipbuilding, building construction, or other types of manufacturing. 

Some welders may find themselves needing to work outdoors often, even in inclement weather. Others may work primarily inside. Regardless, welders must be prepared to handle working in tight quarters and should be comfortable working on scaffolding or other platforms that may be high off the ground. Occasionally, welders may find themselves needing to lift heavy objects or handle heavy equipment. 

Welder in a protective mask working on a metal pipe

What types of skills do welders need?

To complete the day-to-day tasks described above, welders need a strong knowledge of welding and metal properties. They must be able to read and interpret technical documents, blueprints, and drawings. Depending on the industry, employers may look for welders with experience using certain specialized types of welding equipment, as well as electrical and manual tools such as saws, squares, and calipers. Welders must be familiar with safety standards and demonstrate a commitment to adhere to wearing proper protective clothing and gear. 

Outside of these “hard” skills, welders must also have a number of soft skills to be successful. Welding requires excellent attention to detail in order to correctly interpret complex technical blueprints and drawings and to successfully join two components together. Welders should be comfortable working in fast-paced manufacturing environments, which may at times be loud or feel chaotic. They should possess good communication skills and be able to follow written and verbal instructions with ease. As with any career, welders should also demonstrate a willingness to put in the time and effort needed to grow their skills and move up within the company. 

What are the educational requirements for a welder?

Welding jobs typically require a high school diploma or GED. Prior to starting a welding career, many people complete  welding apprenticeships to get hands-on welding experience. Apprenticeships are similar to internships, but they are typically paid. They can be a great way to start building connections with a company to be hired full-time. 

Some welding jobs may require you to have a certificate from a welding vocational school (also known as a welding trade school). These certifications are usually earned through the American Welding Society, and they’re used to prove knowledge and welding skills. Welders can earn a number of welding-specific certifications, including Certified Welder (CW), Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI), Certified Welding Educator (CWE), or Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR). For each of these certifications, there is a written exam and a welding skills test. Once the certification is received, it will need to be renewed every six months to a year to prove that skills and knowledge are kept up-to-date.

In addition, on-the-job training is usually required. Certifications and on-the-job training are particularly important for welding, because welding jobs require high temperatures that can be dangerous to someone who is inexperienced.

What is the career outlook for welders?

The average welder salary ranges from $40,000-$50,000, though the salary welders earn depends on what type of welding they do as well as the education they choose to receive. If a welder earns higher degrees or certifications, they may also earn higher-paid positions. Welder salaries may also vary depending on the state they choose to work in; states like Alaska and Texas see welders earn significantly higher salaries than welders in other states do.  

Job security for welders is strong. Buildings and structures will always need to be built and repaired, so there will always be a need for welders. In fact, demand for welders is slated to grow 8% in the next 10 years. However, because welding is a site-based occupation, it’s sometimes necessary for welders to relocate throughout their career to be closer to where demand is. 

What is the best way to find a job as a welder?

Spherion has been connecting job seekers to light industrial opportunities for more than 70 years, so we know welding inside and out. Wherever you’re based across the country, we can put you in contact with companies hiring for welding jobs right now.