How to Become a Welder: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Welders join materials such as metal and plastic, using molten materials and heat to create a joint which hardens as it cools. Most people associate welders with blue flames and torches, but welders also use techniques as diverse as electric arc, laser, electron beam, friction and ultrasound welding. Welders often work in teams, studying blueprints and securing materials to be joined. A welder must use a method which joins the materials without damaging them, and must do the job thoroughly and carefully to ensure the welded materials are secure. Welders need to know the right method for the job and be consistent at applying it.


Annual salaries for welders will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for welders working in the U.S. was $39,110 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for welders, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Welding

Texas leads the nation in employment for welders, with 47,040 making a yearly average salary of $39,590. California is second, with 22,930 welders working in the state, and earning an average salary of $41,850.

The metro areas employing the most welders are:

  • Houston-Sugar Land (16,250)
  • Chicago-Joliet (6,400)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (5,370)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of welders are:

  • Pascagoula, MS (42.57 jobs per thousand)
  • Houma-Bayou, LA (42.05 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid welders are:

  • Anchorage, AK (average annual salary $68,830)
  • Honolulu, HI (average annual salary $65,580)

Employment and Salary Information for Welders

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a welder. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Welding

Why Become A Welder?

Welding is an important industrial process, used to manufacture all kinds of everyday objects. There are a number of advantages to becoming a welder:

  • Work with your hands. Not everyone wants to be in an office, and being a welder will keep you active.
  • Skilled trade. As has been mentioned, a welder’s skill and judgment is very important.
  • Make products you can see and touch. You’ll see the physical results of your hard labor. If you’re lucky, you may even see them roll off the assembly line.
  • It looks cool. This is a superficial reason, but it’s still a reason.

Welding: What You Need To Know

Applying a giant flame to molten metal looks like fun, but it has to be done right every time, as a failed weld or damaged product can be disastrous. A welder must also know how to use welding equipment safely. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Knowledge of Welding Tools
  • Understanding of Welding Methods
  • Manual Skills
  • Attention to Detail
  • Occupational Health & Safety

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about welding careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Welding Careers

On-the-job / Apprenticeship

An employer may offer a combination of education and training on the job, although this path may take several years.

Certification and degrees

Vocational, technical, or trade schools offer certifications in welding that can take as little as a few weeks to complete. There are also a number of community colleges and other educational institutions which offer more substantial certification in welding. These schools teach courses that cover topics such as blueprint reading, shop mathematics, mechanical drawing, metallurgy, and chemistry.

Today, many schools also offer coursework which teaches students about computers as well, as many employers are utilizing computer-controlled machines and robots to perform various welding functions.

Numerous schools offering programs in welding will also give students the opportunity to become certified through organizations such as the American Welding Society, which offers Certified Welder and Certified Welding Fabricator certifications. Some employers may require candidates to receive a general or specialized certification, depending on the type of work they will perform on the job, which may include welding inspection or robotic arc welding.