While many entry-level welding jobs start with average-level salaries, welding is among a select few trade skills that can see certificate holders earning as high as $200,000 annually. Whether you’ve just started looking into welding or you’re ready to take your welding career to the next level, we’re here to break down 5 of the highest-paying welding jobs of 2022.
5. Military Support Welding
Annual Salary: $37,000 – $160,000
Joining the armed forces is a personal choice. Military Support Welders (MSW), also known as Special Armor Support Welders (SASW) or Military Armor Support Welders (MASW), is a welding career for those who thrive on challenges and are looking to make a difference. This position exists in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines. After passing basic training and becoming certified, they’re assigned specialized occupations. In general, MSW welders are in charge of maintaining and repairing military equipment at home or in occupational zones. This equipment ranges from missiles, trucks, and tanks, to submarines, naval ships, and installation infrastructure. They can continue building their careers in several directions by becoming a welding expert in specific support roles. These welders get great benefits and can work their way up to earning $160,000 annually.
4. Industrial Pipeline Welding
Annual Salary: $23,500 – $133,500
Industrial Pipeline Welding is one of the most challenging jobs in the welding business. While these welders can work in aerospace, automotive, construction, fabrication, nuclear, and transportation industries, the highest paying positions with the most stability are consistently found in the oil and gas industry. On the surface, their job sounds simple, keep the pipelines in working order. In practice, however, this role takes on a hefty amount of both risk and responsibility as these pipes may carry oil, gas, steam, or hazardous chemicals. Pipeline welding can be one of the most complex of all welding positions, requiring ample amounts of additional certifications and specialized training. Not only do they need to be skilled in many welding techniques, but they also need to be trained on the use of heavy machinery used to bend workpieces to prep for large sections of welding. They are in charge of repairing pipeline leaks, removing and replacing damaged parts, inspecting and repairing welds, installing new pipelines and valves, replacing compressors and pumps, maintaining records, understanding blueprints and diagrams, and maintaining an orderly and safety-focused work environment. While entry-level positions start around $20,000, welders who build this career path can end up earning up to $130,000 or more annually.
3. Nuclear Welding
Annual Salary: $23,500 – $133,500
Nuclear welding is a great option for welders who like a challenge and are looking to consistently maximize their income. These welders must pass an extensive FBI background check, numerous psychological tests, and be open to regular drug and alcohol screening to receive the necessary security clearance to handle nuclear materials. Nuclear welders need to perform their duties with the highest level of safety and accuracy as a single mistake can lead to devastating consequences. Because many of these jobs take place in shipyards, nuclear-powered vessels, or nuclear reactors, they need a great deal of specialized training in addition to holding certifications in commercial diving and underwater welding. Most nuclear welders work in the nuclear power industry and are responsible for welding large, high voltage equipment and pipe systems, handling nuclear reactors and systems, working with radioactive materials and nuclear pressure points, and facilitating many critical safety tasks. Additionally, these welders must be able to use extremely complex machines and utilize math, physics, chemistry, and mechanics daily. Nuclear Welding isn’t for everyone, but those who are built for it can climb this career’s technical ladder and end up earning $140,000 a year or more.
2. Underwater Welding
Annual Salary: $38,000 – $147,000
Underwater welding is a fast-growing, high-demand welding career pathway. While the job itself comes with inherent risks like electric shock, decompression sickness, and even drowning, these welders typically work in a team environment surrounded by medical professionals. While this job requires a lot of grit, sweat, and determination, those who put in the effort can end up making some of the highest salaries in all of the welding industry. One thing about underwater welding is that the term is used rather broadly as these welders can specialize and pursue several industry-specific careers. They can work on or offshore in a variety of capacities like building and repairing oil rigs, salvaging shipwrecks, performing subsea construction, and many other tasks which require wet welding as a skillset. These welders must not only be advanced level water welders, holding a wet welding D3.6M certification from the American Welding Society but additionally they must be certified commercial divers. Acquiring the necessary certifications typically requires around 6 or more months of full-time instruction at an accredited school as well as an investment of around $20,000 in tuition. While this career can be one of the most expensive upfront, welders up to the task can enjoy a higher base salary than most. Welders who invest in growing within this industry earn up to $140,000 annually.
1. Rig Welding
Annual Salary: $52,000 – $207,000
If you’re interested in achieving the best pay in the entire welding industry, look no further than Rig Welding. These welders consistently come out on top of the pay scale worldwide. As many of these welders are also underwater welders, becoming specialized in rig welding requires even more certifications, experience, and qualifications than any other welding job. Even one minor mistake can cost the entire crew their lives, which means companies hiring for this position are only seeking those at the pinnacle of their field. Rig Welders use specialized equipment to build, reinforce, and repair the rig’s infrastructure to extract and process oil and natural gases. Additionally, they construct pipes, bond metals, and ensure the proper use, maintenance, and storage of welding equipment. In addition to surface and underwater welding, they must also be experts in hyperbaric welding and be able to work with a variety of different oil rigs both on and offshore. These welders are typically required to live on-site, working 12 hours or more 7 days a week for months at a time. While this job is the height of hard work and long-term effort, if you’re the type of person who loves sweating, facing challenges, and making the highest salary possible, pursuing this career path can end up earning you over $200,000 annually.
In short, the more you invest towards becoming an expert or specialist in the above fields of welding, the more likely you are to achieve six-figure incomes. Welding jobs are some of the highest paid, fastest-growing trade jobs on the market. Welders make good money and face unique challenges every day. Whether you have no experience or you’re ready to take your welding career to the next level, Code Steel Academies is your best choice. With decades of experience in the welding industry and job placement services offered by our Direct Path Program ™, your future career is just a few clicks away.