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  1. #26
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    Oct 2006
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    Re: highest paid welders

    JTMcC, Didn't mean to knock your lifestyle. When I was younger and single I spent quite a bit of time chasing government contract work and I don't regret doing it. I even had quite a bit of fun doing it. It's just not my thing anymore and one should consider if it fits them before taking such a job. Maybe that has something to do with the growing demand for people who will live on the road.
    It can be a great career. Good pay and benefits. A great way to get experience and looks good on a resume when it's time to make a change.

  2. #27
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    Re: highest paid welders

    From my limited (14 yr) experience, the wages of a welder can run to both ends of the scale. It really is a hard question to answer. There are so many variables. It also depends on what you consider a welder to be. Everybody and their brother can weld, but very few can do it well. One of my sisters was married to a clown for a while that thought he was the cat's meow because he was a welder. He really thought I would be his best friend or something because we were both welders. In reality, he worked in a muffler shop buzzing exhaust pipes together. Now, I'm not some great welder, not by any means. At this point, I usually only do MIG welding. I am one of those drones mentioned earlier that goes to a shop every day. Here, in Florida, most shops are non-union and the pay scale reflects that. Plus, like I said, I'm in a manufacturing facility every day so I will never make as much as the guys that travel. I'm OK with that. Like mentioned above, it suits some guys and I'm one of them. I like to get off at 3:30 every day. Where I work, the pay scale currently tops out at $19.35/hr for a welder/fitter. There are guys that have been there almost 30 years and don't make top pay. There are some, myself included, that have been there less time (9 yrs. for me) and make real close to top pay.

    But, there are many other benefits. We have a pretty good benefits package that I won't go into except to say that whenever we go to the doctor's office, they always comment on how good it our insurance is. But, the company also provides all out personal protective equipment (gloves, leather's, all tools, Jackson EQC 3n1 hoods, RedWing boots, everything to do the job) and we get a company discount through Ford, GM, etc along with discounts on most cell phone plans, Dell computers and a bunch of other stuff as well. I have 3 phones through Nextel. We got 35% off the price of the phones, 30% off accessories and I get 18% off my bill every month. That's just one example of the discounts.

    So, asking about top pay is easy to answer if the hourly rate is all that concerns you. But, with that pay is usually more travel, more risk, more expertise needed, etc. Figure out at what level you want to weld and then compare the Total Rewards package (pay, ins., 401k, pension, other benefits, etc) to see what fits your lifestyle best.
    Always looking for another old VW, especially in the southeast.

  3. #28

    Re: highest paid welders

    Quote Originally Posted by MilSpec1
    For example; would it be small welding shop owners making the most compared to TIG, MIG or SMAW welders working in auto, oil or pipeline industry. Maybe building construction welders, etc.

    Who usually pulls in the most dough for making an arc and putting stuff together?


    The potential for income is much higher for the business owner, but the risk is also much greater.
    Volumn's could be written on the pro's and con's of owning your own business, but there is a lot of potential for income, even in the general run of the mill type work where the employees aren't making a lot of money, the owner, if successfull, is.
    To make top dollar as an employee, the welder has to reach into the upper ends of the trade. But the business owner doesn't necessarily have to do that. A good example is the landscape company owner who's worth a couple of million, but his employees are lucky to be able to pay the rent. I know guys that own run of the mill welding outfits where they pay low to mid range wages to the hands, but they are making major income as the owner.
    I also know small (one to two man mobile operations, no shop overhead just a truck/tools) business owners grossing well over $300,000 per year (personal net earnings well over $100,000) doing work that doesn't require a great amount of welding skill. But they are fairly solid business men, they're prompt, reliable, and their customers won't call anyone else.
    The risk is great compared to guys that punch the clock tho. There are many failures for every success. But this is America, everybody gets their shot.
    And I see a lot of people with very limited welding experience trying to start a welding business and they drop like flies. There are just too many things that only come with experience.

    So my answer boils down to this:

    1. ) Working as an employee you need some serious skills, usually in pressure piping, to draw top dollar (exceptions being in the Union building trades where a skilled, code quality plate welder can make a very good living) and a fair level of risk is involved(drive a thousand or two thousand miles to take a welding test with no guarantees, have a couple of repairs and you're gone, ect.).

    2. ) As a small business owner you better have somewhat solid welding skills, some good people skills, some business savvy, some money management skills and a pretty good line of credit. Plus be able to tolerate a much larger amount of risk and inconsistent/uncertain/uneven level of income over the course of a year.

    Just my take, I started my welding business in 1992 (nobody thought I'd make it either ) and I continue to happily feed the kids and pay the bills. I love my work and it loves me


    JTMcC.
    www.firstratefabricators.com

  4. #29

    Re: highest paid welders

    Quote Originally Posted by tresi
    JTMcC, Didn't mean to knock your lifestyle. When I was younger and single I spent quite a bit of time chasing government contract work and I don't regret doing it. I even had quite a bit of fun doing it. It's just not my thing anymore and one should consider if it fits them before taking such a job. Maybe that has something to do with the growing demand for people who will live on the road.
    It can be a great career. Good pay and benefits. A great way to get experience and looks good on a resume when it's time to make a change.

    Gottcha.

    I hear a somewhat steady stream of derogotory comments about my trade by people who know nothing about my work, so I get tired of explaining that, yes, I love my children too and I spend so more time with them and my lovely bride than anyone I know.

    JTMcC.

  5. #30
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    Oct 2006
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    Las Vegas, NV
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    25

    Re: highest paid welders

    Rusty,
    is the Ocean corp. diving school in Houston pretty good or are they all about the same? Do ex Navy diver types have the advantage when they get out? Finally, can a guy start at 43 yrs old and 'break out' if he is in good shape, reasonably smart and hard work ethic?

    Dean
    military pilot; Bone driver, T-38s, other stuff
    Hobby fabricator

  6. #31

    Re: highest paid welders

    How are these jobs out of your area found with the high pay that many of you mention? Is there a list somewhere or a placement company for jobs that are non-union or are these jobs union?

    Dan

  7. #32
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    Jun 2006
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    new orleans, la
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    Re: highest paid welders

    ocean corp is alright, but if you're going to dive school you'd be a fool to go anywhere other than young memorial in morgan city. ocean corp tuition is around 15,000$ these days, which is roughly the same as DIT in in seattle and divers academy in new jersey, young memorial is around 2,000$ out of state. its a state funded school.
    ex navy divers typically don't impress anyone. i have worked with a few top notch divers who were ex navy divers, but typically navy divers don't have much diving experience, but think they do. from what i gather diving in the navy is more a secondary skill, lots of navy divers only dive once or twice a year after dive school. if you are an ex davy diver then you wouldn't need to go to dive school again, but be prepared to spend a year or two as a tender.
    43 years old, its possible, i don't know how good a shape your in, but to break out takes 2-3 years. and then at 43 to have a 20 year old boss might be grating on the nerves. i would say its probably too late to start, but then again it largely depends on the person.
    if you want more info check out www.offshorediver.com, you'll get your questions answered with a lot of flack as well, but that is pretty indicative of th types of people you meet in diving.

  8. #33
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    Re: highest paid welders

    Rusty, thanks, thats what I figured since it is such a physical job and one that after schooling takes years to master as well. Just checking, asking someone who has been there.
    military pilot; Bone driver, T-38s, other stuff
    Hobby fabricator

  9. #34
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    Alaska
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    Re: highest paid welders

    Dug up what we pay our welders and divers, Union Diver $68.13 on your check. Non Union Diver $82.38 on your check. Doesn't matter if your welding or doing something else. Regular welders are, Union $31.39 on your check. Non Union $45.64 on your check. If its out of town you recieve $75.00 per day perdiem. Company furnishes all leathers and consumables. You furnish your hood. However, if your hood gets damaged or goes swimming they will replace it. Hoods can't swim, trust me.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  10. #35

    Re: highest paid welders

    So I see a lot of welders.....but very few can teach and lead....and actually weld

    GTAW, GMAW, FCAW, orbital, stainless, titanium, pipe 6G...

    tired of traveling? sometimes the shop work is pretty easy... and you still make a steady living

  11. #36
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    Re: highest paid welders

    How much impact does education have? In the welding field obviously? Are there management jobs that welders can move into at large companies, plants that pay more but still require welding knowledge and skills?
    military pilot; Bone driver, T-38s, other stuff
    Hobby fabricator

  12. #37
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    Middleburg, FL USA
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    Re: highest paid welders

    At our facility, welders have moved into Q.A., supervisors, CAD drafters (myself about to hopefully, I have the degree) and weld trainers/leadmen.
    Always looking for another old VW, especially in the southeast.

  13. #38
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    Eastern Washington
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    Re: highest paid welders

    What kind of background (besides welding knowledge) does a welder need to make a move like that, bugdust?

    Bill

  14. #39

    Re: highest paid welders

    Background???

    So I am mgmt and I am looking for this person

    1. good attitude
    2. patience
    3. good teacher
    4. great process knowledge - GMAW, FCAW, SAW, GTAW, Orbital, Pulse, STT
    5. great attendance
    6. good welding skill, great in at least GTAW,GMAW,FCAW 6G pipe
    7. teaching aides are in place
    8. multi-alloy skilled - alum, titanium, stainless, duplex, monel, inconel
    9. vessels, pipe
    10, fitter skills
    11. layout skills

  15. #40
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    Aug 2006
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    Middleburg, FL USA
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    Re: highest paid welders

    Quote Originally Posted by WHughes
    What kind of background (besides welding knowledge) does a welder need to make a move like that, bugdust?

    Bill
    Well, our Q.A. took some Inspection classes at the local community college. I don't know exactly what classes they were. He also had some company training in weld inspection.

    One of our supervisors simply moved through the ranks; welder, leadman, supervisor. Another supervisor went to college for CAD, worked in the office for a few years from drafter into a Manufacturing Specialist position and just recently made shop supervisor.

    Another supervisor came out of the machine shop.

    I started as a bottom rung welder nine years ago (with this company), worked my way up to one of the top welders in the shop, went to ITT Tech and got an A.S. degree in Computer Drafting and Design, headed up a few committees (training, process improvement, etc), became the weld trainer for our facility (teach new hires safety, quality, procedures, etc. and work with older employees on new procedures & processes) and just submitted my resume for the newly opened Manufacturing Specialist position, which is a salaried management position.

    Basically, you have to make yourself more valuable, learn more skills that the company (or another one) can use. BTW, I went to college for two years and the company paid for 100% tuition reimbursement.
    Always looking for another old VW, especially in the southeast.

  16. #41
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    Kentville, Nova Scotia
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    Re: highest paid welders

    I new a guy who was an underwater welder and he said that he was making anywhere between $60-$80/hr welding up north

  17. #42
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    Dec 2005
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Re: highest paid welders

    Quote Originally Posted by MilSpec1
    How much impact does education have? In the welding field obviously? Are there management jobs that welders can move into at large companies, plants that pay more but still require welding knowledge and skills?
    At Penn College, we have one of the top welding programs nationwide. You get your BS as a BWE major, but we do more hands on than just about any other school. MIG, TIG, Flux core, sub arc, stick, OFW, brazing, you name it, with a strong emphasis on advanced stick and TIG, particularly open root pipe. 4 hours a day of actual shop time, 9 out of 10 students leave with at least a D1.1 pipe cert.

    MANY companies come here licking their chops, and even a number of Union reps have come by offering to knock off 2-3 years of Journeyman work, acknowledging the skills of many who leave here. Factor all this in with the NDT work that's learned, as well as programming orbital and multiple robotic systems, you can see why it's highly recruited.

    Because the program is so applications-end oriented, many students that leave PCT are PERFECT for being the go to guy who acts as a liason of sorts between the paper pusher engineers, and the guys out on the floor. Familiar enough with the equipment to solve problems on the floor or in the field, to relay back to the engineer that something outright won't work, etc. John Deere, Harley Davidson, Yamaha, Lincoln Electric, etc, also heavily recruit graduates of the 4 year degree, offering substantial benefits and bonus packages for agreeing to join their junior engineering programs, etc.

    With the age of the current welder getting so high as mentioned, and the lack of guys with the know how to actually weld filling that void between grunt work and paper pusher, you can see how the educational background can translate into some big $$$ in a very short time.

  18. #43
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    Re: highest paid welders

    Quote Originally Posted by Queticon
    How are these jobs out of your area found with the high pay that many of you mention? Is there a list somewhere or a placement company for jobs that are non-union or are these jobs union?

    Dan

    Over here the main tool is the phone = DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!!!


    For money over here and Australia it's pipe welding. All that matters is that you get through the pipe test before the job cranks. If your known to a company sometimes they will just do a production butt as your welder qual.

    I remember seeing on this site before someone saying that in the US cross country pipe welders where getting $110 per hour. I assume this was stoving?


    It's a great lifestyle for a certian amount of time, but at times you feel like throwing it in when your away from home so much. Ever time I think about getting out of welding the rate goes up and here I am, still at it!
    When I do get away from the pipe welding it will be to get right out of the trade because I hate working in shops, but the bloody money keeps getting better
    I'd rather be hunting........
    USE ENOUGH HEAT.......

    Drifting around Aussie welding more pipe up, for something different.....wanting to get home.

  19. #44
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    Re: highest paid welders

    One thing that I have found talking to different welders around the country is it depends more on location than what kind of welding you are doing. I agree with an above post. Find a type of welding that you enjoy and go to it.
    I'm a Lover, Fighter, Wild horse Rider, and a pretty good welding man......

  20. #45
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    Re: highest paid welders

    Here in Washington a union diver/welder gets $72/h and about $15/h in benefits. As the diver goes deeper the rate of pay goes up SIGNIFICANTLY. Under like 250feet the diver sets the rate of pay. I think this wins. A union welder out of the carpenter's union hall gets $30.40/h and can be called upon to weld anything from GTAW light guage to structural SMAW and similar for ironworkers and pipefitters. I ditched the union and am working at a shipyard. Rate of pay is low-mid 20's/h. But I work year round.

  21. #46
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    Re: highest paid welders

    I'm out of the weld shop now (got the position mentioned in previous post). In our shop, welders top out at $19.xx/hr. That's not bad for what we do and the area. This is just basic mig, metal-core wire on carbon steel. Nothing fancy although it is a fitter/welder job. I tell new guys we just build big model kits. All of out parts are pre-cut/machined,, bent or rolled..whatever. We work off a print. Most parts fit well enough, some occasionally do not and need a little tweaking, much like a plastic model kit you built as a kid. We even have procedure books that show the order of assembly for tacking and even for welding, again, much like a model kits instruction sheet. The company supplies everything including auto-darkening hoods. It is indoors (well, a tin building...fans in summer, heaters in winter), we work 40hrs/week, every week, OT is always optional, and it's a nice, clean environment. The has signs everywhere that read "Safety, Quality, Quanity...in that order" and that is the way it is.

    You won't get rich working here but it's a decent living. Live within your means and save/invest in your future and your quality of life will be better. I know a few people that make much better money than myself but you would never know it looking at their quality of life.
    Last edited by bugdust; 05-19-2007 at 05:40 PM.
    Always looking for another old VW, especially in the southeast.

  22. #47
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    May 2007
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    Re: highest paid welders

    Flat liner i am asuming that u are an X-Delphi employee.. I also.. The truth is if the damn politicians don't do something to keep work in the USA our crafts are going to all die because there will be no real need for them here.. I have 28 loyal and faithfull years to my employeer and my job is being sent to China and Mexico.. We are even closing plants in Mexico cause they can't compete with the labor rate in China... My 3 cents Terry

  23. #48
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    Feb 2008
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    West coast of Wisconsin
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    6

    Re: highest paid welders

    You will find that most welding jobs are simply grinding jobs in disguise

    If you are in love with welding buy a tig welder for your garage. That way you will always love welding.

    As for pay...it's all relative. Great pay usually means bad management or worse working conditions.

    For the gravy if you must weld for a living stainless is king. There is a lot to learn and not just anyone can do it. There is shrinkage, fit-up (one mistake can cost $1000's) and material certs as well as welding certs. Apperance is always a concern.

    The future of welding however is robotic. You do NOT want to be an operator but instead a programmer or a tech if you like to travel or can get in where they have a dozen or more robots.

    One other thing you might consider since you are already in the Air Force is turbine repair and reconditioning. Learn your metallurgy and shine like the sun!

    30 years of welding in the midwest has taught me this.

    Best of Luck no matter what you choose. If you weld you will need a high pain tolerance.

  24. #49
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    Sep 2007
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    Southern CA
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    Re: highest paid welders

    The best paid welder is one who is professional, continually educates him/herself, works with integrity and knows when to tell someone that the job is beyond their current skill set. I started as a welder, went to school for Mech. engineering, been working as a welding engineer and recently got my CWI. I still strike arcs almost everyday too. I'm doing well enough that my wife isn't going to work for the next couple years. There really is no limit to what you can accomplish in this field, and the climate as mentioned by other posts is excellent for young people who want to exceed.
    Good luck and thanks for your time in the AF!

  25. #50
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    texas
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    Re: highest paid welders

    milspec1,
    you should be able to go to tech school right there in killeen,or at least tstc in waco,i live near killeen an was stationed at ft hood,im no profecinal welder but im sure thinking about trying it,good luck

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