View Full Version : Welding Career... Help, Questions and Advise Please.

10-19-2005, 12:23 AM
Well I'm currently a sophomore in high school and I'm taking a basic welding class.

Next year though, I'll get a chance to goto E.V.I.T. (East Valley Institute of Technology) It's a high school deal for schools in Arizona. They offer classes on EVERYTHING but they've also got a really good ( or what I've been told ) welding class.

I'm reaching that point were i need to decide what I'm going to do in life and thats were i could use some of your help.

On average, whats the pay for a certified welder? non-certified? Is there good job security? These are just a few of the many questions Ive had lately.

Ive been told I'm really good with computers and i know i am but i find no fun in them.. they're always changing and everyone is going into them. I love sitting there watching the puddle of my weld move around. I think its an awesome feeling to be able to manipulate metal so easily and join pieces together, cut them and the such.

I've heard that welding underwater pays quiet good but is not an easy thing at all.. I've heard its extremely loud, you can feel the shock waves and its just a overall hard job. Living in Arizona, i don't see me getting any local places to do this so its not on the top of my list.

Getting certified. How hard really is it? Is it real expensive to get the test? Is it worth it? Can i get certified in Arizona?

I'm not sure.. i really want to go further in welding but not if its not a smart or logical choice. I need to pick my next years classes in probably the next 2 months so its crunch time. I only get to do this once so i want to do it right..

Any and i mean ANY comments, suggestions, ANYTHING is extremely welcome and greatly appreciated. Thanks alot guys.

10-19-2005, 12:26 AM
ah.. my bad.. wrong Support, Help and Feedback thread :S

please move.. sorry.

Barry Pfaff
10-29-2005, 09:22 PM
First off you have to decide what you would rather do and enjoy the most. You could make lots of money and hate your job, then it's not really worth it. I think welding is a great career field. It's one of the only careerfields you can go anywhere in the world and get a job. Welding is not the end either, you could expand it also. Such as : Welding teacher, Welding Engineer, C.W.I., Job Planner/Estimater, Military Welder, Underwater Welder, etc. I think the sky is the limit . It pretty much depends on you. I've been doing it for 26 Yrs. and love it. I did it in the Air Force, Programed robots, Traveled pipe welding, tought welding , ect. Currently I am a welding supivisor at a shop during the day(I still weld a lot)and have my own welding business on the side. I sure wouldn't have that if I didn't enjoy it. My son loves it also, he is taking it at a tech.school like you. I did it my junior, senior year also.
Welders make about $8.00 a hr. on up depending on experiance, knowledge, and certifications. I have to say the average is about $10 - $16 hr. , however you could make way more. I feel welders are under payed.
Underwater welders make great money except their not home much, life expectancy is not to good, and you can only do it to age 36 if things are still the same.
Certification is a very long subject, let's just say when the hood drops, the bull crap stops. You constantly have to prove yourself. I like that, you can't blame anybody but yourself. Making something from nothing is awsome and you can use all of your imagination and creativity.
Good luck with whatever you decide.

12-21-2005, 09:26 AM
First off I agree with Barry, I have been welding pipe since 1978, high pressure gas,steam,ect. A pipe line welder with his own rig will avarge $35-$40 pr hr. Our best welders make around $22 pr hr and those just good enough to test around $16-$18 pr hr. These are with the company furnishing all equipment.
For the last 10 years we are experincing a shortage of people wanting to get into pipe welding. We have even trained some ourselves to meet our demand for good pipe welders.
Pipe welding has always paid more than other types of welding, but it is more demanding and requires more skill. You might be 50ft. in the air with 20mph winds and 20* or 10ft in the ground with 2ft of slop mud.

12-21-2005, 11:47 AM
First off, you are a sophomore. Don't be in any big hurry to get down to doing what you're gonna do for the rest of your life. There is plenty of time to get some different kinds of skills and experiences to see what it is that you REALLY want to do. Even in welding, there are many career paths.

Being flexible and competant in several areas (outside of welding) is a pretty big asset when it comes to finding employment. Having a set of trade skills shows that you are capable of learning a skill...this is almost as important as the skill itself because it provides prospecitive employers a signal as to how good an employee you are likely to be and how quickly or easily you learn new stuff. Take all the courses you can and get as much weld time as you are allowed, but remember, most employers that have entry-level positions expect to train their new hires, at least to some degree, so you dont have to know everything when you leave highschool (little unintended joke there).

I have said it before and I'll say it again...English and Math are needed in practically every field (a little spanish wouldnt hurt either). Get as much as you can stand and still remain sane. These are the tools we use to communicate complex ideas. If you are fluent in English and math, you speak the language of industry...if not, someone above you will do the talking.

There are 4-year degrees at big technical schools that focus on metals, metalurgy, and welding...just something to consider. You could be designing welders.

As for average pay...I don't know ANY rich weldors...but you dont have to be rich to love your life or your job. The folks I know that are the happiest with their job are the ones that would do it even if it werent their job...That is sometimes referred to as an obsessive-compulsive disorder...but if you make a living from your obsession/compulsion then who can argue with that. That's what I do.

Where I live, hourly-wage weldors make from $10-$50 an hour. The difference in pay is based on process, skill and work conditions. Self-employed weldors make probably an average of $30k-$60k per year if they stay busy...and it takes a bit of time to get there, because it takes time to build business relationships. Remember that time-rates for self-employed weldors are only earned if they are working. The two highest paid weldors I have met had very different jobs. The first was a welding supervisor at Southern Company...I think he makes close to $80k-$90K per year, but his job is much more than welding. He claims to only be a so-so weldor, but he is a good manager. The second is a friend who repairs surgical/medical equipment...He makes in the high $60K range working all by himself, but he could make more if he worked more...he seems to have gobs of free time and his bills keep getting paid. Most of the other weldors I know (and I know a few) are all making in the 30s and 40s (pre-tax). I am sure there are weldors that make more, but I don't know any of them.

Don't feel like you need to lock into a career path right now. From the time I was 14 years old, I have worked at maybe 20 different jobs, several at the same time...Just to give you an idea, I grew up on a cattle farm (a job all by itself), I worked at several local cattle auctions, I worked in fast food (who hasnt)...I had jobs as a fork-lift driver (two different jobs), a weldor, a mechanic, a bus driver, a warehouse supervisor, an office administrator, a plumber's helper, an unloader for UPS, a security guard, a construction worker, a computer systems administrator, a student several times over, and a university researcher/professor. I enjoyed something in each one. I work with another professor who used to be an LA Cop and before that he was a mechanic also. Folks move around a lot these days...the trick is to keep moving up. Good luck and study hard.

12-21-2005, 11:49 AM

12-21-2005, 11:50 AM
:blush: Dang. I am out of control on these buttons.

12-21-2005, 04:16 PM
Dirt, I can remember when I was in your shoes (probably 45 years ago).:blush:

Here is how I looked at it back then, and to one extent or another, all through my life. I had some people give me various pieces of advice that caused me to THINK. These thoughts are in no particular order.

I was 'lucky' enough to have to work for everything I wanted from the time I was about 12. My parents provided the necessities (food, shelter) but that was all they could afford. I was lucky to land a neighborhood job in a garden center where we were salesmen, laborers, construction workers, etc all rolled into one. I learned what hard work was and to value the money I made.

I was always mechanically inclined and wanted a 'hands on' profession but then I tempered all that with the thought of did I want to be doing it after I was 55 years old. Electrician, auto mechanic, carpenter, truck driver, construction worker, etc.

I looked around at my dad and other people like him (construction, factory workers, etc) and saw the wear and tear on their bodies. In todays world they also have to be concerned with competing with cheap and young labor.

I reached the conclusion a office job was easier on my physically over the long run.

I would say you should take a couple of business type classes when you have the opportunity. There is an old saying about you aren't going to make a lot of money working for someone else. Learn something about the business side of things.

Think about where you want to be in life in 10, 20, 30 years. However there is nothing wrong with changing professions periodically. Nothing wrong with hard work either. To be successful you are probably going to have to physically work hard, mentally work hard, or both. Probably both. Your views and the dynamics of the world are going to be changing and influencing your decisions your whole life.

I have a good friend who started his own business way back when. He probably still works 50+ hours a week. For years (20 years?) he probably worked 70+ hours a week. It took him probably 20 years to really become successful. He always enjoyed his profession though.

I finally joined the army when I was 21 (to avoid the draft) and decided to let them educate me on computer repair. I had 3 years under my belt in the outside world prior to joining and that really helped me cope with the Army. The Army stint led to a job fixing computers for IBM. That led to being a software troubleshooter and then a developer. That sort of fell apart about 4 years before my retirement kicked in and I became a remodelling carpenter to keep the money flowing in.

Every job change from the time I was about 12 was influenced by either learning something new, making more money, making my life easier, tired of what I was doing or a combination of those things. I would have never predicted the path I actually took.

I have still always dabbled in those 'physical' trades over the years. I was told early in life (and I believe it) that if the economy faulters and jobs get scare that someone that can 'work with their hands' will always survive. Side jobs helped me buy 90% of the tools I own.

In summary: Don't think you have to lock in a career now. Step back and look at the big, long term picture every once and a while. Do some mental 'what if' scenarios with your life. Expect to be a success in whatever you do. Don't aganoize over it (what ever you decide to do). Doing something for a couple of years and then quitting that profession is not a mistake (its an experience).

My son is 26, single and changes his profession at least every 2 years. He is enjoying life right now and has at least 4 professions to fall back on in the future if the need arises. :dizzy:

12-21-2005, 04:55 PM
That's dang good advice based on some good experience.